If you like real, authentic hip-hop, then prepare to fall in love with Stalley’s newest album. Hailing from Ohio, Stalley has been paving the way for all the independent artists on their grind, proving you don’t need a major label to find success in the music industry. With tens of millions of streams to his name, Stalley is a pure lyricist, spitting nothing but truth in his bars.
In describing himself, Stalley states he’s “a spiritual father, family man, artist. In every sense of that word when it comes to music, fashion. An entrepreneur at it, a CEO. That sums it up.”
At the time of this interview, Stalley unveiled his debut self-directed visual for “Fresh Linen.” The music video sees Stalley pushing forth positivity, as he raps, “Today will be great, throw on some fresh SBs., I’m feeling vintage today, drop down in sujood, tuck my troubles away. The world is in trouble, they say we need leaders here. I’m just tryna be of the light and try to lead us there. A beacon of hope…”
Most recently, Stalley delivered two singles, “Bakery,” and “Dilla Bap,” leading the way for his new album titled Somebody Up There Loves Me, out now from Mello Music Group on all streaming platforms. Clocking in at 12 tracks, the project is inspired directly by the 1956 film, “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” based on the life of Boxing Legend Rocky Graziano.
AllHipHop spoke with Stalley to discuss his roots in Ohio, his Top 5, new music, his relationship with Takeoff, Kendrick taking him on tour, signing to MMG, goals, and more!
Talk about being from Ohio, what was that like growing up? I know Trippie Redd is from Canton, that’s close to where you are right?
Yup. It’s funny because Trippie’s grandmother lived in the same projects that I grew up in, so I’ve seen Trippie as a kid. We used to watch out for him in the neighborhood when he was running around. I know his uncle, his father too. Trippie, his family is like family. It’s a community like that when it comes to Massillon and Canton. It’s a rivalry, too, because of high school sports, but there’s a lot of love in that area.
Growing up, it was the average childhood. Being into sports, being into music. Running around, trying not to get in trouble, but getting into trouble. But it was definitely a great upgrade, I enjoyed it. It shaped me in a lot of ways, personality-wise. Just my grit and grind, my will to be persistent at everything. There definitely were a lot of lessons growing up in Massillon, Ohio.
When did you fall in love with music?
I can’t put an exact age on it, but it was definitely at a young age. I used to listen to everybody from Michael Jackson to Marvin Gaye to Curtis Mayfield. Obviously, with hip-hop, it was everybody from Biggie to Tupac to Scarface to Nas to Wu-Tang to E-40. The list goes on, so definitely been a fan of all music. My grandmother was heavy into rock and country music, so I was also listening to everybody from Travis Tritt to Bruce Springsteen. A lot of that stuff shaped me as an artist.
Do you have a Top 5?
Man, it changes all the time. Off the top of my head, obviously I gotta put myself in there. But I’d say Nas, Mos Def, Ghostface, Scarface. I think that’s five, right? [laughs] Somewhere around there. But it always differs. It can definitely change, depending on the day, depending on the mood I’m in. Again, I’m a fan really of everybody. I listen to everything, especially when it comes to hip-hop.
How’d you get your name?
Stalley derived from a child, being somebody running around. People used to call me Stallion, but it also came from playing sports and being a stud on the court. Being a horse or a workforce or whatever. That’s really where it came from, it just got broken down to Stalley. You know how we do in our communities, we shorten everything. That’s where Stalley came from, it just stuck.
What were you on recording “Fresh Linen”? I love hip-hop records like that, where it’s just smooth.
It came to me like that too, just naturally. The beat spoke to me in a way where I wanted to get things off my chest. The beat felt fresh. It felt like I was just recycling through my thoughts. I was rebuilding and rebranding myself through the music. That’s what I wanted people to feel, just that feeling of clear space, clear mind. That’s the energy that the record gives and that’s the energy I wanted to give out with “Fresh Linen.”
What can we expect from Somebody Up There Loves Me? That’s a very powerful title.
Thank you, definitely. You can expect a lot of battling. I don’t want to say it’s a rebirth, but it’s reenergizing myself for my fans and showing them a different side of me. Also reminding myself and knowing that I’ve been through a lot in my career. I’ve been counted out, I’ve been counted on, but I know that somebody up there loves me. Somebody up there is watching over me and somebody is keeping me going.
Because there’s many times we can all give up and quit, or we can all hit a rough patch and get down on ourselves, but knowing there’s somebody up there that’s protecting me, that’s really where the title came from. And from the movie, he went through the same things. Going to prison and going through hardships, but coming out and still having the will and the strength to become a world champion and a heavyweight champion. I’m coming out on top every time, because somebody up there loves me.
Talk about the independent grind and how you’ve been able to do this independently.
It’s been a beautiful grind. Like they say, a beautiful struggle. It’s a lot of ups and downs, a lot of figuring things out and learning. I love to learn, and love to learn as I go. And I’ve been able to do that with being independent because as you know, working in music, just being around it and being a fan of it, it changes daily. With social media, with streaming, it’s always something new to learn. It’s always something new to tackle and master.
Whether it’s something as small as the algorithm or something as big as growing your fanbase, keep continuing to grow. Continuing to tap into new fans, new listeners, continuing to tap into the youth, and just growing your brand. That’s the beauty of it. It’s hard at times, but it’s also a beautiful reward at the end.
I know you collaborated with Takeoff on “Bag.” What was your relationship with Takeoff? It’s just tragic.
Yeah man, super tragic. I just can’t send my condolences and prayers out enough to those guys and the family, it’s been tough. Takeoff was such a great individual, such a humble person. I got to be in the studio with those guys and see how they work. They’re amazing at their craft. They take it very seriously, it’s just unfortunate man.
I was blessed enough to be able to do two records with Takeoff: one with the Migos, one with just me and him. It was an honor. That’s all I can say for real, it’s tragic. It’s hard to see any of your fallen soldiers or people that’s a part of your community of peers die so suddenly at that young age, really for nothing. That’s not what we get into it for.
Talk about working with Kendrick Lamar. How did that happen?
Oh man, shout out to Kendrick. Good dude, I’m forever indebted to Kendrick. Met Kendrick a while ago at SXSW. He was doing the Music Matters Tour before Good Kid, M.A.A.D City came out. We spoke and talked about going on tour together. Right away, he’s like “yeah, come on. Stalley, I f### with him. Let’s go.” That was a beautiful thing, because a lot of artists don’t open up like that. A lot of artists don’t share their stage with up and coming artists.
For him to take me in and take me on, the whole TDE to take me on that tour and treat me like one of theirs, it was a beautiful thing. Always love to those guys. Kendrick is, as we know, incredible. At that time, the big record that he had buzzing was “Swimming Pools.” To see him perform that every night, then Good Kid, M.A.A.D City comes out, it just takes off and he’s on a whole other level, that was a beautiful thing to witness too.
Did you learn anything from that tour?
Yeah, work! [laughs] Put in that grind and it pays off, put in that time and it pays off. That’s definitely what I learned. I learned from TDE just the tight ship that they ran, with all their artists top to bottom. Very professional, very humble.
They treated everybody like they wanted to be treated and in return, that’s what they got. That’s what I learned the most from them, just being great individuals. Being good guys and still making great music. Knowing that you don’t have to have any type of ego or chip on your shoulder or anything, and you can still be successful. So again, always love and shout out to them because of the way they carry themselves. Not as artists, but as individuals. As people, as human beings.
What do you like to do for fun, when you’re not doing music? I know you like cars.
Yeah, I love cars. I love sneakers. I love video games. Anything to occupy my time and my space, keep my mind going. Or sometimes I like to put my mind idle, and that’s why I love to play video games. Get on the game with some homies, laugh and joke and have a good time.
What was it like signing to Maybach Music Group? How did that happen?
To make a long story short, Ross reached out to me. I met him shortly after he reached out. He told me he wanted me to be a part of MMG, and we worked it out. I became part of MMG, had an amazing time. Learned a lot again. Ross is a great dude. Someone who I’m always in debt to, as well as someone who changed my life. Helped me get on the right path and see that I can live off of my dream. He made my dream come true, so shout out to him.
It didn’t work, not for any particular reason. It just was something that I felt independence was better for me. Me controlling my own destiny and controlling the way I release music and do music, it was just better for me. That was really it. It’s all love. It’s all respect. It’s always appreciation for how he set me up to be where I am.
Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Yeah, continue to get better. My goal is to always get better with every verse, with every record, with every album. I love to grow, I love to learn. As long as I continue to get better and have fun, love what I’m doing, I’m succeeding. As long as I’m able to take care of myself and my family, I’m succeeding. It’s been a blessing. It’s been over 10 years that I’ve been able to live off of music and making music. Shout out to my fans, shout out to everybody who supports me.
I know I can be hard to support sometimes because I’m such an introvert. I’m not someone who’s always in the faces of the people, but people always follow and tend to find me when I’m releasing things. Shout out to them, I love them to death. My goal is to continue to grow, continue to grow my brand, continue to grow as a CEO for Blue Collar Gang. Help other artists to become superstars and live out their dreams as well.x
Watch the fresh new music video “Dilla Bap” directed by Stalley below:
Stream Somebody Up There Loves Me via Mello Music Group out now on all platforms: