Stalley: Honest Cowboy

Stalley continues to progress as an artist and releases another great project. His laid-back style pairs with excellent production to create something special.


Honest Cowboy

Label: Maybach Music
US Release Date: 2013-08-08
UK Release Date: 2013-08-08

The Massillon, Ohio native may not have an official debut album on the shelves yet, but it hardly matters. Stalley has quickly gained a fanbase over the last three years by releasing album-quality mixtapes with original production. His third entry, Honest Cowboy, continues in the footsteps of Lincoln Way Nights and Savage Journey to the American Dream. Honest Cowboy brings a familiar, laid-back Stalley over smooth production with heavy bass, perfect for showing off your sound system. The 2013 release has its own personal flavor, and differentiates itself from Stalley’s past releases thanks to its shortened length. It’s a very easy listen, at right around 40 minutes and 10 tracks (11 if you count the bonus track).

As Stalley continues to release music, he assuredly continues to improve as a rapper. He has always had a knack for balancing two sides of street and consciousness while always feeling genuine, and that’s exactly what you can expect from him here. Honest Cowboy displays all angles of Stalley, from the summer anthem “Swangin’” featuring Scarface to the introspective “Raise Your Weapons”. You’ll witness insight into Stalley’s life while also being invited to breathe in the atmosphere of the Midwest that bleeds out of Stalley’s music. Stalley isn’t a super lyrical rapper, but his lyrics are easy to relate to on at least some level. He’s got an unmistakable voice, which some may see as a flaw, but it certainly gives his music a unique feel.

Even if you can’t entirely buy into Stalley the rapper, you can always count on him for introducing you to some great production. On Honest Cowboy he once again brings in some great names that are fitting to his game. The Block Beataz and Rashad both return to supply Stalley with more heat, and others such as Soundtrakk and Terrace Martin also contribute their own beats. DJ Quik and Cardo even collaborated to produce the opening track, “Spaceships & Woodgrain”, and DJ Quik stuck around to mix the whole project. Despite the variety of producers, Honest Cowboy sounds completely cohesive throughout and creates its own style in the same way Lincoln Way Nights and Savage Journey to the American Dream did.

While he might just be known to some as “that other guy with a big beard in MMG” right now, if Stalley continues to release music at this high of a level it will only be a matter of time before he starts getting recognition from everyone. Honest Cowboy marks the third really good release from him in just a matter of years, fourth if you go back to the MadStalley mixtape. There aren’t many artists out who are making music in the same vein as Stalley. The closest comparison I could think of would be Curren$y, in that they both make mellowed-out music over great beats. Stalley administers a soundtrack for those days when you’re cruising around the city with the windows down, going five under the speed limit.

Honest Cowboy may just be another stepping stone, and if Stalley can continue to grow as an artist there’s no telling how high his ceiling is. It’s concise and it’s good, all 10 songs have something to offer (although the bonus track, “A-Wax” isn’t so impressive). As summer transitions to fall, Honest Cowboy is a fitting release to capture that mood. It admittedly doesn’t have as many high points as his previous two tapes, but Honest Cowboy is definitely consistent. If everything goes as planned, the next time we’re hearing from Stalley it will be on his major label debut album. However, if something comes up and we instead get another album-like mixtape with banging original production, well we probably wouldn’t complain too much.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.