Stalley Soars With His Intelligent Trunk Music On MMG Debut ‘Ohio’
Since introducing the world to a brand of rap coined “Intelligent Trunk Music,” Stalley has remained consistent, releasing free projects like Lincoln Way Nights and Savage Journey To The American Dream, before testing the market with the Honest Cowboy EP, a project released as a mixtape in 2013, but after rave reviews and a BET nod in the “Best Mixtape” category it only made sense for the label to release it to iTunes. Now the MMG rapper returns with his long-awaited debut album entitled Ohio. The LP, reconnects Stalley with longtime friend and producer Rashad, who helps Stalley capture sonic inspirations from the G-funk era, while sampling influential '70s soul bands and artists like Ohio Players, Bootsy Collins, Parliament Funkadelic and more to give the album a reestablishing sound that we have become familiar with during the music trajectory of the bearded BCG member.
To kick things off, Stalley welcomes listeners to the Ohio experience on the intro track, a mellow laid-back record that finds the wordsmith repping for every single area code in the Blue Collar State while proclaiming his originality and his quest to take Ohio rap to another level. Following things up is the first lead single of the album, “Jackin’ Chevys,” a fun record in which Stalley pays tribute to Eazy E’s classic cut “Boyz N’ Tha Hood.” The Massillon native brags about the grand theft auto life on the track as he pays homage to the classic American muscle cars over a hard-hitting beat by Rashad.
Next up is probably the darkest record from the entire album entitled “Problems,” a hard-edged record that features Stalley speaking on the everyday struggle of a dope boy in Ohio. Stalley shines bright on the track and provides a detailed and very bone-chilling tale of survival over the ungodly sounds of Rashad. Another bright spot on the album is the Nipsey Hu$$le-assisted track, “What It Be Like.” On the very trumpet driven record, producer David D.A. Doman fits perfectly the Midwest sound with his production on this song. It's the personal journey of Stalley chasing his version of the American dream while speaking on the the obstacles he faces in his rap career and the streets. The pairing of Nipsey and Stalley on the same track gives off a laid back West Coast meets Midwest feel, incorporating both areas to create a record that can resonate as survival anthem.
The track “One More Shot” is by far the most radio-friendly record on the album, even possibly his most commercial song ever by Stalley. Accompanied by Rick Ross and a crooning August Alsina, the song is an attempt for Stalley to target the female audience over production by Detail. However, the record may not fit with the rest of the album’s flow, but it’s a great attempt for Stalley to put himself in the eyes of the mainstream. On the album's second single, “Always Into Something,” Rashad brings more of that Midwest vibe to the record by adding guitar riffs over a menacing brass and laid-back sound, while Stalley reminisces about his upbringing as a kid and the lessons he learned from the OG’s during his early days in the Buckeye state. Ty Dolla $ign provides a great guest hook to the hard-hitting record.
On the last and final track of Ohio, Stalley brings out well-respected rap group veterans De La Soul to join him on the record “Navajo Rugs” – a track in which Stalley compares his music to the Native American Navajo rug. From the details on the Navajo textiles to the rich history behind them, Stalley emphasizes on the passion, detail and love that he puts into his craft. The assist from De La Soul on the song helps bring a great and positive message to the limelight.
Overall, Stalley's debut album is highly entertaining with a sound that is very refreshing in today's rap scene. The MMG rapper's experiences are captured remarkably throughout his storytelling, while still maintaining the Midwest theme of the album. Stalley leaves us with an impressive first project that only makes listeners desire for more “Intelligent Trunk Music.”—Roger Krastz