I quickly took a liking to his 2009 mixtape MadStalley: The Autobiography. He released a video for the project’s "Babblin," which was filmed in New Orleans around the fifth-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and managed to gain some spins on MTV2.
After signing to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group imprint, he released his 2011 installment Lincoln Way Nights (a deluxe version of the project is available on iTunes) and 2012’s Savage Journey To The American Dream.
Fast-forwarding to August 2013, he's delivered his latest offering, Honest Cowboy. The title derives from Stalley's fascination with cowboys and the candid character they're known to posses. He considers himself to exhibit similar qualities in his music.
Honest Cowboy picks up where its predecessors left off. Stalley continues to show off his ability to paint portraits of the struggle that inner-city minorities experience through his lyrics. He balances this out with verses about his love for antique whips equipped with pounding subwoofers, Jordans, and his hometown of Massillon.
Honest Cowboy begins with “Spaceships and Woodgrains,” a mellow track that gives listeners something to vibe to while they're cruising through the city streets. "Midwest nigga to the Armor All/Dickie shorts and Jordan IVs/nugget rings and herringbones/welcome to my terror dome," Stalley spits on the song's first verse. The track is joint-produced by DJ Quick, a pioneer of the 90s G-Funk era, and Cardo, a Taylor Gang affiliate who gained popularity for his work on Wiz Khalifa’s Kush and Orange Juice—considered by many to be some of Wiz’ best work-to-date.
Stalley pays ode to the urban car culture on “Swangin’.” The song has a sample of Huntsville, Alabama rap group G-Side's “Swangin,” and a subwoofer-satisfying beat that would have been perfect for one of the late DJ Screw’s mixtapes. The featured verse from Houston heavyweight and world-respected rapper Scarface gives it the official stamp of approval.
Different from previous records, Stalley goes in-depth on his love for “Mary Jane” with the song, “The Highest.” Lines like, “My top candidate, these girls can’t compete,” and “I can’t always vent through the speakers/or share my feelings to the world, so she’s my secret keeper,” displays that cannabis sativa has earned a significant spot in his life.
Stalley salutes the lifestyle popularized by Texas rappers on “Cup Inside A Cup.” He provides a musical delivery relatively reminiscent to the 90s Houston rap scene in his own Midwest way. “You know my daily operation/get money, keep away from hating/staying sucker-free my only occupation,” Stalley spits. The smooth production on “Cup Inside A Cup” is accompanied with a sample of lines from Drake’s “November 18th” track on the chorus.
Similar to Stalley’s two previous projects, Lincoln Way Nights and Savage Journey To The American Dream, Honest Cowboy's “Feel the Bass” provides listeners with another earful of his love for loud speakers. However, on the ScHoolboy Q-assisted “NineteenEighty7,” Stalley takes a different approach. He cleverly spews lines for both those indulged in the street lifestyle as well as the ones who can identify with it but chose a different route. "Midwest nigga in the West/red Corvette speeding down sunset/ski mask, black Tec pulling through the set," the MMG member raps in a fashion that's fitting for the West Coast lifestyle.
One of the most meaningful songs on Honest Cowboy is “Raise Your Weapons,” which finds Stalley aggressively sharing his religious and economical views over a Block Beataz-produced track that samples DeadMau5’s song of the same title. “We’ve been in the trap too long, we just want our leverage/gave it time, sat through hell, now we just want our heavens,” he passionately spits on the song.
Not too many tracks off Honest Cowboy will get your party jumping, but it’s the perfect music for riding around and clearing your mind, lounging back, chilling, or knocking pictures off walls in your neighborhood as a result of the bass-filled tracks. Stalley has once again proven he’s one of the best at making music that's fitting for those who appreciate clever wordplay, but also enjoy something suitable for their Pioneer speakers.
Expect to hear more from Stalley pretty soon. He's featured on Maybach Music’s Self Made Vol. 3 compilation. It hits stores September 17.