Stalley-Blue Collar Gang/Sticks and Stones

stalley honest cowboy
Stalley’s Honest Cowboy mixtape has been very well recieved; so much so, that it’s headed to iTunes in EP format, and comes packed with the two tracks included here.

Both feature and are produced by his frequent collaborator Rashad, something longtime fans will be pleased with given their previous successful releases. Blue Collar Gang has a rather triumphant vibe to it, celebrating Stalley’s crew and current status with an uplifting production and “bottom-to-top” lyricism that provides a good motivational angle. It all combines into a consistent sound, and one that will not only motivate many, but do so whilst remaining true to Stalley’s natural penchant for realistic songwriting rather than overblown statements. Sticks and Stones has a similar style of lyricism, though the production throws out the ‘pop’ key change and brings in a head-nodding percussion line, adding an urgency to the verses that allows them to get spotlighted ahead of Rashad’s gentle hook.

Of the two, the latter is my preferred track of the two, though there’s probably more mileage in the first as far as mainstream exposure goes. Both are enjoyable though, and be sure to grab them on iTunes now.

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Stalley-Honest Cowboy (Mixtape)

Over the last 18 months, Stalley’s worked his way into a position as one of the leading rappers in my iTunes: his lyrical approach is versatile enough for almost any type of track, whilst his flows are equally capable and diverse, and when added to his generally solid beat selections, it’s difficult to figure out why he’s not held in higher regard.

Nonetheless, it’s his first full release of the year, and another 10 new tracks to add to an impressive back catalogue. Features are minimal, though appearances from Scarface and ScHoolboy Q certainly suggests quality over quantity, whilst production credits that feature the likes of DJ Quik, Cardo, Terrace Martin, and frequent Stalley collaborators Block Beataz. The latter for me is most exciting, given their stellar track record together, and I’ve got no doubt that they’ll deliver once more with their offerings here. Stream and grab the whole damn show below.

Stalley-Honest Cowboy

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Rick Ross and Stalley-F**kin' Problems Freestyle

One of the mainstream’s favourite hip-hop tracks right now gets an MMG facelift, as the chubby one and Stalley come together for a quick hit freestyle over the popular production.

I’ve not heard too many good remixes of the track, so credit to both here as they do a good job with a beat that’s not altogether close to what they’re usually found on. Ross opens with a surprisingly strong performance, letting his flow cut loose from his usual slow drawl into a delivery with a touch more pace, and though it comes via the laziest voice I’ve ever heard, it’s still an improvement on his usual work. Stalley, of course, is the highlight, with a couple of different flows employed to pack in his often clever lyrics, which are also refreshingly honest for the most part and quite different to those who’ve laced this beat before him. Shame about the Flex tags, but hopefully a cleaner version will emerge soon as this is a good refresh of the soon-to-be-overplayed track.

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Rick Ross-Ten Jesus Pieces ft. Stalley (Video)

Ross’ God Forgives, I Don’t album has been one of those I’ve repeatedly forgotten to listen to, but at the rate at which this guy churns out videos I’m fairly sure I’ve heard and seen the majority of it by now.

Most of it hasn’t really been to my tastes, but there’s a lot to like here. From the Stalley feature to the vintage-inspired production, there’s enough to pull this away from being yet another ‘Rick Ross-style’ track. That aforementioned production is certainly a unique one in today’s environment; saxophones that sound straight out of an 80s ballad, sharp percussion and a choir-like vocal sample combine for a lively production that feels almost aspirational. Hence, Ross’ fondness for documenting his rise to glory fits the beat well, but ultimately the raps aren’t anything we haven’t already heard. Stalley’s closing verse is the vocal highlight, offering a glimpse into his own life story whilst showing respect to his peers, both dead and alive, with a couple of lines.

The video matches the audio well, with shots of Ross in all his modern-day splendour, surrounded by religious architechture to enhance that vocal sample, alongside scenes of (an actor playing) Ross in his come-up days. Plenty of Ross bouncing around too, which is always hilarious, and this is a watchable clip that represents the audio well.

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Stalley-Loud Motors

The second from the new edition of Stalley’s “Songs by Me, Stalley” series. “Loud Motors” is produced by Rashad.

Stalley’s been relentless with the releases these last few months, and lets another very enjoyable freebie go to keep the hip-hop heads happy. The production is somewhere between uplifting, motivational and soulful, a trifecta that always blend well together, with Rashad serving up reflective melodies and thudding percussion for a beat that’s near-impossible to dislike. Stalley’s no junior on the mic, and once again brings forth some thought-provoking and confident raps that ride along the beat with consumate ease thanks to easygoing flows. The combination is a well-rounded hip-hop jam with a little hint of old-school flavour, and it’s one that I’ll be giving plenty of playtime in the car.

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Stalley-Fountain Of Youth ft. Rick Ross & Nipsey Hu$$le (Video)

Stalley’s dropped several videos from his excellent Savage Journey to the American Dream mixtape, and now we’re treated to one from the recent MMG Self Made Vol. 2 album.

Assisted by Rick Ross and frequent MMG collaborator Nipsey Hussle, Stalley’s got a pretty good basis to deliver the goods and he certainly does. The beat certainly helps too, thanks to gentle keys, light percussion and an airy vocal sample all adding up to a chilled out production. Rozay opens up with a good verse by his standards, and whilst the lyricism isn’t anything new, his flow bounces along nicely and sets the tone for the track. Stalley’s up next with the standout verse, holding back on out-and-out ‘bragger raps’ by balancing each brag with a slice of humbleness, and it makes for refreshing listening. Nipsey closes things out with a couple of delivery styles and a similar down-to-earth style to Stalley, whilst his hook anchors the song well enough without ever being too notable. Enjoyable all-rounder that’ll make for good listening on those dark evenings. Grab the album on iTunes now.

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Stalley-Home to You ft. Wale and Anthony Flammia (Video)

Anybody else’s version of Savage Journey to the American Dream have a broken version of this song? Sadly, mine did. A shame, as it’s one of several standouts from Stalley’s tape.

Flammia does a great job with a soulful hook with lyricism that blends nicely with the raps, anchoring the song well, whilst frequent Stalley collaborators Block Beattaz serve up a futuristic yet laidback production that pads the track out with a great atmosphere. Stalley’s raps are once again enjoyable and complementary to the production style, his slick flows being strong throughout whilst his lyrics blend transparent honesty with a little attitude for a nice combination play. Wale’s a real downer on this one, his confused delivery not synergising with the beat, and his arrogant raps not working with the track as a whole.

The visual is great, picking up on that atmospheric and futuristic style with bright lights on the backdrop of nighttime scenery, adding a lot of vibrancy to the clip but without compromising the chillout side of the track. Worth a listen, and a nice easy watch to boot. Mixtape can be grabbed here.

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Torch-Slow Down ft. Meek Mill, Gunplay, Wale, Young Breed and Stalley (Video)

The MMG clan almost come together in their entireity on this one, and there’s always a sense of trepidation when seeing a line-up this strong from the group, usually because it results in tired flows on repetitive beats.

Not this time. The production is funky, upbeat and packed with an infectious energy, elements which are excellently recreated by every rapper on the track. Torch lays down the gauntlet with a speedy delivery that sets things off nicely, before Meek Mill jumps in with quick raps of his own that amp up the track’s intensity, helped by an energetic performance in the video. A smooth vocal hook eases things off briefly before the ever-crazy Gunplay gets going with a very active performance of another in-your-face verse, followed by Wale who comes close to getting the highlight verse with a watertight flow delivered with an unflappable cool. Breed makes a decent account of himself next, and Stalley’s on last with the standout verse, combining razor-sharp flow with lyricism that’s different enough from his colleagues to command a little more attention. A surprisingly enjoyable posse cut. iTunes is your friend.

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Stalley- Last Day on the MT ft. Rashad

The first from the second edition of Stalley’s Songs by Me, Stalley series. “Last Day on the MT” features Rashad and is produced by Cardo.

He of the glorious beard has been one of my favourite rappers this year, and it’s great to get some fresh material to follow up his much-praised Savage Journey to the American Dream mixtape. This is a laidback effort, with Rashad dropping off a drifty hook to utilise this summery, relaxed production to its fullest. Stalley’s piercing voice contrasts with the beat’s soft percussion and whispered melodies to good effect, giving them a standout quality that showcases his rarely-disappointing and easily-digestable lyrical work, and this is a good all-rounder that’s a solid addition to any (end of) summer playlist.

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Charles Bradley-The World (Is Going Up In Flames)

Two of my favourite songs of recent times are Stalley’s Petrin Hill Peonies and Asher Roth’s The World Is Not Enough (which I didn’t post, and profusely apologise for), and without question that’s down to the excellence of the sample they both use.

That sample would be the slice of excellence you’ve just pressed play on, the 2007 single from the ‘The Screaming Eagle of Soul’ (what I wouldn’t give to be the ‘screaming eagle’ of something), a track packed with deliciously bright instrumentation and vintage vocals right out of the 1950-60′s. In fact, the throwback nature of the track is so strong that on initially listening to the sample in the aforementioned rap tracks, I (and many others) believed it was from that golden era. It’s almost unbelievable that he only became a fully active performer 10 years ago, as there’s clearly a great deal of confidence in what he does, derived mostly from the outpouring of raw emotion throughout the track that often opposes the uplifting instrumental resulting in what is actually a rather bittersweet song. Frankly, I’m relieved to know there are acts out there still intent on making classic soul, and pulling it off as exquisitely as this. Support great music and an old soul just doing what he loves by grabbing this on iTunes now.

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Stalley-Petrin Hill Peonies Video

Less than a month after the release of an enjoyable video for Hammers and Vogues, he follows that up with another of the better jams from the excellent Savage Journey to the American Dream.

The production is supremely laidback, combining a vintage soul sample with a chilled reggae sensibility for an easygoing backdrop that makes this perfect summer soundtrack. Stalley’s rarely lazy with the raps and this is no exception, even when faced with such a mellow production, as he comes through with watertight flows and relatable raps, coming through with a rare blend of an ‘everyman’ style and strong self-confidence. It’s a great track that just racks up plays by being such an easy listen.

The video’s appropriately chilled out, with Stalley supplying a friend with some goods that lead him to having a few pretty funny experiences whilst high, with the rest of the video being some much-neeeded camera time for Stalley. Entertaining video, excellent audio and the best rapper in the MMG clan right now for me. You can grab this track for nothing on the mixtape now.

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Stalley-Hammers and Vogues ft. Curren$y Video

Stalley’s Savage Journey to the American Dream is easily one of my favourite mixtapes of the year thus far, and this effort with Curren$y definitely stood out as one of the best tracks from the tape, getting plenty of love in my rotation to this day.

The track is laidback and a supremely easy listen, with a smoothed-out production allowing Stalley to send out some frank and humble raps, making for a first verse that synergises wonderfully with the production, and a closing verse that adds a little more arrogance to finish on a high. Curren$y’s relaxed style is a perfect fit for this summery production too, and hence his verse blends into the track seamlessly.

The video is everything you’d expect given the style of the audio: warm summertime footage, nothing too frantic with Stalley pretty much just sitting down, and whilst Curren$y is a little more vertical for his verse, his natural demeanour keeps that lazy-day vibe of the audio going. It’s a great audiovisual that has no illusions of grandeur-just some chillout hip-hop made for a summer’s day. Grab this on the aforementioned Stalley mixtape now.

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