On Tuesday afternoon at the Alife store in New York, Stalley almost got overwhelmed with emotion. Just a few short years ago, the Ohio native was actually working at that very store, helping customers like Raekwon get the hottest new kicks. This week, though, Stalley was on stage, performing with his team, the Maybach Music Group, and counting his blessings.

“I looked out in the crowd and saw some the people I used to work with at the store and then I looked on the stage and saw my knew team, I was just thinking I came a real long way,” he told XXLMag.com.

In just four years since Stalley started writing, he has already built a international fan base and earlier this week, he had a chance to release his first major label project as part of the MMG collective.

“Its hard work,” he said about having the Warner Bros. machine behind him. “That’s the eye opener for me. I always seen it, but I didn’t know how much. You have press—going from the radio to MTV, back to the radio, to a signing. It shows you have to put in that groundwork, but that’s the fun. That’s fun work. It's actually talking about a project you put together and put your heart into you get to explain the process of it all.”

The bearded rhymer revealed it was a concerted effort by the whole crew not to just promote the album to the fullest, but to also make sure the material flowed seamlessly.

“We wanted to make it bigger and better than the last one," he continued. "As far as the songs, writing the beat selection…The chemistry, it felt like a album because we got close as a team. Ross was picking the right beats, right collaborations. It came out beautiful. I’m happy. The talk [from the fans] has been just that, that it came out like a album and it sounds cohesive. People are enjoying it."

The recording process was memorable for him, too. “There were some times where I would be sitting with Ross and we would come up with a beat, or I would pick a beat and write [a verse] to it and write a hook to it, whatever the case may be," he recalled. "I would hear it and Ross would be like 'I’ma put such and such and on it.’ I think the only song I heard with another person on it before I got to it was ‘Power Circle.’ I just went in being Stalley. Ross gave me the concept and I just went in. Ross was on it, Kendrick was on it and Gunplay and maybe Wale. But all the other joints [you hear me on] was just me and Ross sitting in the studio. I think Ross was picking beats and he was hearing people on it and giving it to them.”

Self Made 2 is available now. —Shaheem Reid (@ShaheemReid)