Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stalley and His ‘Nights’

Stalley is, or was, a bit of a surprise to me. A lot of my musical suggestions tend to come from Twitter these days. If I’m not mistaken I heard at least three rappers and/or producers speaking well of the man. One was Ski Beatz. For those who don’t know, he’s an amazing producer who is responsible for one of the most iconic tracks in Jay-Z’s catalogue (“Dead Presidents”). Talib Kweli also praised him. I’ve loved Kweli since Black Star so I figured he knew what he was talking about. The last was 9th Wonder, another producer whose epic catalogue need not be referenced because of time constraints.

So armed with all this I downloaded his album.

The name got me from the outset.

Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music)

That name alone implies a mix of intellectual, thoughtful rap with a touch of grit.

The album doesn’t disappoint at all. It makes love to the eardrums, leaving a listener fully satisfied.

Here are the favorites:

-“Assassin”- The beginning notes of this track are misleading. It lulls you with the sound of a marimba only for the beat to drop right after. His words speak of an assassin as a metaphor to killing others in the rap game. What really propels this track for me is John Mayer’s voice on the hook as a smooth contradiction that adds to that ever-present marimba and the sounds of gunfire.

-“Milq n’ Honey”-It’s a love song for a new generation. The bass is great but not so overwhelming that it kills the story. The story seems to be of a man who loved a woman (his “milq”) who wasn’t or didn’t have her man’s best interests at heart. He loved her and she was just about holding him down and keeping him from reaching something greater (his “honey”). The depth here is amazing and the story feels personal. Those are the types of tales that make magic in music.

-“Pound”-This song is a hook and a continuous verse. The repetition of the horn is addictive and the drums are crisp. Stalley pierces through all this so well that even my words cannot describe how great it is. My problem with this song (which isn’t really a problem) would be that it is too short. The 2:49 playing time doesn’t feel like enough. But in that short time the song steals you away. Guaranteed.

Stalley surprised me by signing to Rick Ross’ label Maybach Music. I am curious to see what this amazing artist does over there. If his performance on the BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher (and this album) is any indication of his future, he’s going to be a legend.

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