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Premiere: Stream Stalley's Debut Album 'Ohio'

Ohio takes the concept of “Intelligent Trunk Music” all the way round the block.

When Stalley picks up the phone, the first thing you hear is the jetlag. It’s understandable. The 31-year-old Midwestern rapper is recovering from a night on call with his boss, aka Rick Ross, at a work thing, aka Def Jam’s 30th anniversary party. “It was pretty turnt up, pretty lights camera action,” he says, chuckling.

The spotlight’s warming to Kyle Myricks, whose debut album as Stalley, Ohio, takes his “Intelligent Trunk Music” concept all the way round the block, helped along by verses from Ty Dolla $ign, De La Soul, and the Maybach Music head himself. To toast the LP, which we’re premiering above, we caught up to reflect on Stalley’s small town upbringing, his sideline in candy sales and his game plan for hip-hop takeover, Midwest style.

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Noisey: The album’s a sort of tribute to your home state. Did you always like Ohio?
Stalley: When I was growing up, I loved Ohio but I definitely wanted to go out and see the world. I grew up in a small town, so I always knew that I was bigger than that area. I was always drawn to New York, so when I got the opportunity to go to school in Brooklyn, at Long Island University, I made the best of it. Basketball didn’t work out so I just went to school and stuck around New York to work. I haven't looked back.

What were your best and worst jobs?
Oh man, I've had every job you could think of. I worked in a candy store, Lindt chocolate on Fifth Avenue. That was one of the weirdest jobs. Then I was a manager at ALIFE, the sneaker boutique on the Lower East Side. That gives you the range, there. I worked at UniQlo, I worked at H&M, the Gap. I even worked at Virgin Megastore on Times Square before they closed down.

How important was it that you captured your history on this record?
I been putting out mixtapes since I can't remember—maybe '06 or '05. I love it because you get to see the growth I've made as an artist, as a man. Not just the sound but the insight of a young kid who grew up with a single parent, and who grew up around hustlers and athletes. I grew up around everybody from dope boys to school kids, and you’ll hear that in the music. It's like you're riding around Ohio in the passenger seat with me.

Who did you identify with, growing up?
When I was growing up, I hung out around a whole bunch of older people. At 14 I was hanging around with 22-23 year olds, so I identified with those guys more because they gave me life lessons. I got to see them turn their lives around, or go in and out of jail. Some of my friends ain't here no more, they passed away. And you just learn. You learn how to treat a woman or how not to treat a woman. You learn how to shoot a basketball or how to chop up crack. I've seen it all.

What’ll surprise people about the album?
How much better I got! When I first started rapping, I was rapping for the love, the true passion that I had for the culture. And when Ross signed me to Maybach Music, I was living in the basement with my girl and my newborn baby. And I went from living off of unemployment in the basement to being signed to the hottest label in the game. It's like I was getting my MBA—it takes a while to get comfortable with saying, “I'm an artist, I'm a rapper, this is what I do for real.” So on this album my flow is just so much better in the pocket. This is definitely the best writing that I've done.

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