Mixtape Review-Stalley-Honest Cowboy
Picture rap music as a classroom containing all the personalities we are familiar with. The pretty boy who writes poetry in his free time, the goon who picks a fight every few days just to feel healthy, the smart kid everyone copies off of, the trashy chick the guys pretend not to like…and that dude in the back who barely talks to anyone. He keeps his head in his notebook and draws cars, lightning bolts, anything to pass the time. That dude is Stalley.
If you listen to his new mixtape Honest Cowboy you can hear how separated he feels from everyone else. Someone pointed out to Stalley on twitter that all his dreams of wealth end up with him alone in a peaceful location. He laughed but the point is not just apt, it’s central to Honest Cowboy. As he says “Made money from being honest and these fake N’s hate it, that a real N made it, offa no favors now I’m in a farmhouse far out with no neighbors,” on the triumphant Samson (which reunites Stalley with his soul mate producer Rashad) you can’t help but be struck by how unique the image is. What rapper brags about being on a farmhouse or having no neighbors? How many times have you heard obscene nonsense brags from rappers to the effect of NOW CALIGULA IS MY NEIGHBOR! Stalley wants a life outside of rap and to be left alone; in a lot of ways this is what characterizes his relationship with the critics and fans. Everyone knows he doesn’t fit and even more important than that everyone knows he doesn’t want to fit.
As well as his tribute to Big Moe and the Houston sound on Swangin’ goes he’s not Big Krit. It wouldn’t make sense for Stalley to place himself as a UGK descendent because his Blue Collar Gang mentality doesn’t allow him to fully floss on tracks. Speaking of Swangin’ it features an engaging verse from Scarface. On a track designed as Stalley’s tribute to Houston hip hop (produced by the Block Beataz) Scarface laces a pointed perspective on the early days and how things have changed, how the sound has spread.
As an author Stalley is smart enough to go “conscious” and elements of militancy pop up, as on Long Way Down (also on Raise Your Weapons) “Black mask black gloves a hood terrorist intelligent psychopaths the worlds scared of us, the skin of a million slaves…” but they are interspersed. Stalley doesn’t want to be the kid the teacher always looks for to give the answers to the class. I want to be clear I like this mixtape a great deal, it’s riding music with a ton of personal post script. Every beat is gorgeous, especially the amazing Cardo and Dj Quik piano construction Spaceships and Woodgrain, Stalley is in an elite class of beat picking. Whether it’s Block Beataz, Rashad, Black Diamond, or Soundtrakk he’ll make sure it rattles your trunk. I haven’t heard a bad beat on a Stalley project and Honest Cowboy won’t give you one.
So the question for him is always, where is his head at? This is his most honest record. The moment when he says “I came for the money and not for the fame,” on Feel The Bass is a memo to all of us. Not long after that rhyme he’s riding alone in his vehicle inviting his audience to follow him home but watch from a distance. Anyone who tells you he doesn’t fit on Maybach as an artist is totally missing the point. He’s one of the most remarkable X-factors in rap, isn’t it possible that the more he doesn’t fit…the better he will get?
Stream or Download Honest Cowboy below: