In recent history, the state has only received national headlines due to their economic woes since the 2008 recession. Over the summer, professional sports headlines brought Ohio back in the country’s spotlight. With all the talk of sports and economics, not much is known about Ohio’s culture.
Stalley, like the state of Ohio, knows how it feels to be overlooked. After being signed by Rick Ross to MMG in 2010, the bearded emcee has been undoubtedly silent compared to his label mates. Meek Mill and Wale currently assume the roles of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to Rozay’s LeBron James, and Stalley can be compared to one of the team’s younger players. Think Tristan Thompson, an up and comer who’s ready to cash out after his contract year.
With that said, Stalley couldn’t have dropped his debut album at a better time, comparable to how there couldn’t be a better time to be a citizen of Cleveland. Ohio is a soulful project that serves as the soundtrack to the state’s culture. I’m envisioning alley-oop filled highlight reels between Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving with the hard-hitting Jackin Chevys bumping in the background. The album’s standouts include a guaranteed Rick Ross and August Alsina assisted hit single One More Shot, Nipsey Hussle’s appearance on the street ready What It Be Like record, and System On Loud.
My personal favorite moment on the album is the Navajo Rugs outro, and not because of the rare De La Soul feature, but instead the voiceover from the rapper’s daughter. Such a genuine gesture is the perfect way to conclude Ohio’s organic, true to self sound.
While the media and public love to focus on the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers, Stalley’s debut album introduces us to the blue-collar workers that make up the 330. Let’s hope if LeBron James and Co. can end the city’s championship drought the teams chooses one of the cuts from the album. But if the city isn’t celebrating the raising of a triumphant banner for the 50th consecutive year, at least they can say the four-year delay for Stalley’s debut album post his MMG record deal was worth the wait.
The album’s introductory track says it all, Welcome To O.H.I.O.
Buy Ohio here.