To get things rolling, Stalley unleashes his new single, “I Don’t See It,” premiering exclusively with Billboard today (Jan. 17). Not only does he stymie his haters in hopes of finding salvation, he returns back to his roots sonically with introspective raps. “I’m getting back to everything that was planned musically,” he says in regards to his latest effort.
With the new EP slated for release Feb. 1, Stalley premieres his new record “I Don’t See” and touches on the concept behind Human below.
When did you come up with the idea for Human?
I came up with the idea for Human during the process of making Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil. With that project, and breaking it up into a three-part series, for me, it was like an evolution of me as an artist. I've been in the industry, I was signed to a major label, I was with MMG. There was a lot of things I was going through and battling with, especially after leaving. You hear so many people's opinions and them telling you what decisions you should be making, what music you should make, what producers you should work with, what features you should have and all those things. Human was something I knew would be a good follow-up to the three-part series, because that series was me telling the story. It's really me amplifying that whole thing.
There’s a lot you talk about on this EP, mostly stories that revolve around your humanity. Do you feel it is imperative for rappers to be in touch with that human side, and for their fans to see that?
Yes, it's very important. I think that especially now, we get so lost in the celebrity and being famous more than we do the art. Now, the more famous and popular you are, then you can be whatever you want to be -- you can choose, almost. You got 500,000 followers and when that number keeps going up, you can call yourself a fashion designer or anything. You can make up whatever you want to make up because you have the following to sell them anything. I think people really do lose touch with their human side.
Me? I still do everyday things like going to a public gym and stuff like that. I personally love to tap in with the people. I think I always been that everyday man and I've always made that music that taps in with the everyday man and woman. I just love being amongst the people and speaking for the people. I've been blessed enough to have a great core fanbase to know that they kinda know my personality. They're more friends to me than fans.
For someone who is a rapper and has seen the glitz and glamour firsthand, what was the headspace you had to put yourself in to make an EP like this?
I just wanted to put myself in the same headspace that I was when I really fell in love with music, and get back to loving not only myself, but the music and having fun doing it. I wanted to have a message, really speak from my heart and from a clear mind without having any blockage or persuasive thoughts coming from the outside. I honed in on that, and I just wanted to tap in with my inner self. I wanted to be able to speak to the listeners. I wanted to update them and communicate my feelings and what my thoughts have been these last few months and putting it on record. It's kind of like just shedding another skin to reveal another layer to the listeners.
Do you feel with the way hip-hop is with these larger than life personalities and alter-egos, will it ever go back to being about what's real and not a made up image or personality?
I would like to say that it would go back to that, but I think it will stay the same, or maybe even get worse. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of people who still want "the real," the honesty and the relatability, but even those people are so far caught up in social media and the celebrity that even they don't tolerate or want to hear the things that they might've grown up on or what they felt hip-hop was. I do think that it is far gone, but I feel like there is a space where you can still be yourself: You can still be creative and still connect with the people. There's a lot of people yearning and looking for real music, whether they say it out loud or not, because we are also in an era of the follower, or people who don't want to voice their opinion.
On the Human EP, there’s production we expect you to rap over, but with a song like "Frequency Energy," you tapped into your Jimi Hendrix spirit. Can you talk about the sound you wanted to achieve on that track?
[Laughs] Yeah, I always wanted to do something that was kind of abstract, not psychedelic, but more like funkadelic meets a smooth, 808 feel, if that makes sense. I wanted it to be smooth, but I wanted my listeners to get entranced with the music, the flow, and the words, and really get warped into this dimension that you've never tapped into.
With "Frequency Energy," it's a song for women, and I don't do many songs like that. I personally think when I do make songs like that they always come out very good, but it's not something I often do. I have a lot of fans that are women that I do appreciate and they have supported me over the years, so I feel it's important I give them something that they can relate to again. Being human, I just wanted to give every aspect of my life. Being a lover and someone who cares for women and wanting to make them feel good is what I wanted to accomplish on that song.
With how personal this EP feels, what was the one song on Human you felt was a challenge for you?
I would say "I Don't See" is that record. It was really me opening up without placing the blame on anyone else. It was me talking about the past and the things that I've been through and the things that I hear and see that I kind of turned cheek to or look away from. I'll say this: I always want to answer questions for my fans. Like, someone would ask why I left MMG. I don't want to just answer it -- I want to put it in the music, help you understand and feel it. With this EP, I think I did that a lot and I touched on a lot of questions that people might've asked. I visited a lot of topics on this EP, and that was tough for me to do, but I think that I did it very well. I was able to articulate myself better than I thought I would be able to.
We’re at the top of the year and people like to use the phrase “new year, new me.” Along with this new EP, what are you doing to make this your year?
I really am looking forward to this new year and musically, just getting back to everything that I have planned. It's really just putting out a lot more music, and giving my fans a lot more content. I'm being more active and doing the things that I have to do or that they feel I have to do, but just in my own way.
I'm focusing on Blue Collar Gang and the artists that we have. We have new music coming out, all of the artists have been working. I'm really trying to establish them and let people know we have a great collective of artists. I want to flood the market with a lot of music and projects and just give the people a lot more of myself. I feel like even though I put out a lot of music in 2018, I was still kind of behind-the-scenes with it. I want to challenge myself to be more available and accessible to my fans.