With the NBA playoffs set to begin this weekend, Ohio native and Maybach Music Group member Stalley will be rooting on hometown friend LeBron James closely.
See, Stalley knows that James is an Ohio guy and will someday return to resurrect the franchise -- Cleveland Cavaliers -- he left.
"I think soon he'll honestly go back and give them a ring and do as he promised," said Stalley, who was quite critical of James during the "Decision" of 2010. "When that happens, everyone will erase the past, and he'll be king again here. He'll enjoy his life back home."
Ohio is and will always be home for Stalley, born Kyle Myricks. He started out making mixtapes and started working with big-time producers and he signed with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group and will release his debut album this summer.
In fact, growing up in Massillon, Ohio, Stalley played James in high school basketball. Stalley was a 6-2 player also with NBA aspirations.
"I tip my hat to LeBron. I knew he was going to be something special. I saw him up close a lot. He was an animal," Stalley said. "I'm still such a big fan of his. He is my motivation. Seeing him do what he does, why can't I get Grammys? Why can't I sell platinum records? It makes me work harder."
Playbook had a few minutes with Stalley to talk LeBron, music and his love of cars.
You played basketball as a teen. Think you could have gone pro?
"I don't see why I couldn't. I always had that dream. I could see myself playing overseas or even the NBA. I'm not a person who lives out of my means so I know the road wouldn't have been easy. I think music is very similar. You have to put in the work."
You were not happy when James left for Miami but have you softened your stance?
"We're all prideful in Ohio. I think LeBron wants to live here and retire here and do it peacefully. I understand why he left. He was from a small town. It's like one out of a million can make it, and he did. I get that. In my hip hop world, it's similar. We have no big shows or big radio play here. If you can leave and do what you need to do and then come back, why not? That's how it is for me. I get things done and I go back home."
Besides basketball, you have this huge love affair with muscle cars. What's that scene like in Ohio?
"It's like a Barrett-Jackson car auction scene where owners are there showcasing their cars. The whole downtown shuts down, and you have this car show. You have carnival food and you mingle among others. And the younger kids will sit in their cars at the Kmart or BP gas station. It's not like 'Fast and the Furious' It's more laid back. It's Honda Civics with nitro kits. It's 1976 Chevelles."
What is your perfect car?
"Man, I like so many. I really love the 1968 Camaro. I love the '68 427 engine. I'd love to get one and fully restore it. I'd want original everything. That's more of my dream car. I'd I'd also say the 1976 Camaro Z28s with the T-top."
When you make it big, do you think you'll be collecting cars?
"Most definitely. Right now, I collect sneakers. Sneakers will turn into cars."
You are known for your mixtapes but you now are working on your first album. Your first single, "Swangin," is a collobration with Scarface. It's a smooth and different sound.
"I felt the time is right. It's a perfect state in hip hop. People are starting to get back to listening to more of that classic sound. They want musicality and lyrics. I'm trying to bring it back and give you an up-to-date vibe at the same time. I want you to hear my music and feel the 330 of Massillon, Ohio. It's like when I was a kid and you'd see guys riding around listening to their music in their cars. You always wanted to know what song was blaring from their car speakers. I want to give you that sound and that feel and that kind of music."
So you want to create a new Ohio sound. In the 1970s, it was funk. Then the sounds of Bone Thugs n Harmony in the 1990s and now you.
"I'm drawing my own lines. I'm creating my own sound. Rick Ross always tells me that I have my own genre of music. He calls me an icon. I'm getting bigger and bigger. I want people to hear a record or even a beat and know it's a Stalley song."
And you're drawing fans at ESPN because your music has appeared on our network.
"I wasn't even signed when I started working with you guys. The relationship just blossomed and then Wale and I did the intro for 'First Take.' It was a great experience and we'll do more."
How is the debut album coming?
"It's 90 percent done. I'm going to work on it until they tell me I can't. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to sound and the music. I'm looking to get it out at the end of summer for people going back to school. We're on the right track. My first single came out and it's doing fairly well."
It's funny that you nearly 150,000 Twitter followers but you follow no one. What's that about?
"I love my fans. Actually, I don't call them fans. I call them supporters. I'm not a big social media guy. It was hard for me to join but I did it for my fans. I don't like seeing hate. Even if it's not toward me, it ruins my day. I don't want to see that."
Sounds like you have an old soul.
"Yes, I do. I still love watching 'Good Times' and 'Sanford and Son.'"