Today (March 30), Stalley released Savage Journey to the American Dream, his latest project and arguably the most important of his career. Currently next up to bat for Rick Ross’s stacked MMG lineup, Stalley is finally getting his shot and intends to do the most with it. “I’m trying to just get better and better and be a staple,” explains the Ohio-native of his focus. “I just want everybody to know me and my music, what I stand for and what I believe in.” With the BET Music Matters artist steadily building momentum, BET.com caught up with Stalley to talk about his growth as an artist, Ross’s role in his career and the unique listening session he held with the help of his friends from Nike.
BET.com: How has your life changed in the last year and how does it show on Savage Journey to the American Dream?
Stalley: Since putting out my last project [Lincoln Way Nights] I’ve traveled the world; I’ve signed a major deal with Warner Bros. and Maybach Music. Just a lot has been going on, so I just wanted to put that into the music and let people know where I’m at mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s all in the music.… The Savage Journey part is when you have goals set and you achieve these goals or accomplish these dreams that you have and you always want more.… Because when I was growing up, I wanted to be a signed artist. And now I’m a signed artist and I still want so much more.
How do those new experiences translate to your music?
Just wanting more, wanting to be great all-around, not only as a writer but as a man, as a father, as a son. Basically just dealing with these newfound accomplishments, or whatever you want to call ‘em. I mean, you go through a lot. People think that you’re rich automatically when you sign a deal or people think that the hard work stops when you sign a deal. It’s just battling with those types of emotions. And also the good things that come with it. Being able to see the world — like I got to travel and see Paris, I sold out shows in Poland and London. Just off of a mixtape. That experience is in the project, too.
What did you take away from your time abroad?
It let me know to keep doing what I been doing. It lets me know that my story and my words and the things that I go through and the things I seen growing up, and now are relatable across seas. People that don’t even speak the English language firsthand still know my words and still relate to my stories, still go through the same things. That’s what I picked up the most.
Word is you held an interesting listening session for this project.
I used to play basketball a little bit, and I’m a member of Nike’s private gym that they have. And they (allowed) me to use their gym and their facility to bring in 20 of the press around New York City. Everybody from BET to MTV to Complex to FADER — the list goes on. Just bringing everybody out to be able to play basketball and enjoy themselves but also get to take the time to listen to the project.… Oh, of course, we’re going to put it on the blogs, of course. So all the writers who think they know something, we gon’ show ‘em something.… (In the future) I would want to do something even better. Hopefully we can maybe scrimmage some NBA players or something. I just always want to take it to the next level.
Your guest verses on Rich Forever definitely seem to have raised your profile.
That’s a beautiful thing, too. That people are starting to recognize and see me as an artist and who I am. A lot of people probably heard the name before, but they really didn’t know what to expect. But I think that me signing to MMG and being on Ross’s label and Ross’s mixtape, it’s opened up a lot of ears and eyes to me, and I think this project is really going to solidify a lot. I think a lot of people are curious to what I am.… I’m brand new to a lot of people. I’ve only been doing music for four years. I’ve only put out three mixtapes — two mixtapes that people really heard and paid attention to. So I’m brand new to a lot of people but I think that the curiosity is going to allow people to check out this project and I think once they do, they’ll know that it’s the real deal.
What role is Rick Ross playing in your life right now?
He’s like a big brother, a mentor, a friend. He’s just someone who believes in me like I believe in myself. And just to have him being the hottest artist in the game right now and having the best label in the game right now. For me to be the new guy, and the new artist that nobody really knows about — even Meek [Mill] and Wale had some sort of history where people knew who they were even before MMG. But me, I’m kinda out of nowhere like, “Who is this guy?” So for him to believe in me and see that is just a beautiful thing. He plays that role of just believing, and that’s all I ever needed.… It’s all about that opportunity, that’s like when you play ball. It’s like, ‘put me in the game coach, I’m ready to play.’ And if they see you, they know you on the team, they see you do the warm-ups, and they see that you got a little game, but they don’t know until you get out on the court. So now, March 30 is my time to get out on the court. And when I’m out there, people gonna see me shining.
That’s all I need. I don’t need no handouts, I don’t need no help, just put me in front of the people and they’ll believe.
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