By John Benson
On the campaign trail building up his fan base is how rapper Stalley (AKA Kyle Myricks) views his current batch of Ohio dates.
The Canton-born MC is reaching out to his constituents before he takes his already national career to a higher level.
“The No Place Like Home Tour” brings Stalley to Youngstown on Thursday for a show at the Academy.
“It’s just that’s what it is, there’s no place like home,” Stalley said. “There’s no place like Ohio. There’s no place like the 3-3-0. That’s where I’m from and where I was raised. I’m just trying to come back and connect with the people and put on great shows for the fans who supported me from day one. There’s a lot of love in the area.”
Perhaps that love is tied to the fact that Stalley said he’s been called the Bruce Springsteen of hip-hop for his honest anthems about life on the backstreets
“That’s just something people have put on me,” Stalley said. “I would never compare myself to the Boss, but I think a lot of people find a similarity. Springsteen is very blue collar and he speaks to the everyday man and woman. I feel like that’s what my music does.”
Stalley, who describes himself as living in two worlds of hip-hop — both as a conscience and a gangsta rapper — dropped his most recent mixtape late last year. “Honest Cowboy,” which features guests such as Scarface, Schoolboy Q, Joi Tiffany and Crystal Torres, was critically acclaimed. In fact, the project was even nominated for a 2013 “Best Mixtape Category” BET Hip Hop Award.
Stalley said his favorite tracks include “Swangin’ (ft. Scarface and Joi Tiffany),” “Cup Inside a Cup” and “Spaceships and Woodgrain.” Fans may hear those live at his upcoming Youngstown show; however, they won’t be hearing any of the material from his debut full-length effort, which is due out soon.
There’s a lull-before-the-storm sense regarding Stalley’s career. Not to suggest he’s currently in a lull but anticipation is high that his upcoming album will catapult him into the Kanye and Kendrick orbit.
“It’s definitely about timing,” Stalley said. “It’s no race, it’s a marathon. So it’s just something about putting in that work. The way music is these days, it’s a different format. It’s long and there’s social network and there’s a lot of self-promotion, even when you do have a major label with you. I personally love the groundwork.
“I love to see the growth and progression, even when it comes to the music. I feel like I get better with every verse and every line. I look forward to being in the studio and creating music and being more myself. I also look forward to turning doubters into believers and gaining more fans. That’s what I’ve done over the past few years.”
It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that a year from now Stalley could be mainstream hip-hop, which would mean playing venues a lot bigger than the Academy.
“Yeah, definitely, and that’s always the goal, but right now I love being intimate,” Stalley said. “I’m on my campaign trail going city to city. I love to connect with fans. I love to perform in smaller venues. I like to gaze out into the crowd and see who the fan is, what they look like, what they’re wearing, how they react. It’s all about building my fan base.”