Why he's interesting: The bearded musician's debut album Ohio hit No. 35 on the Billboard Top 200 in November 2014 with tracks blending heavy bass beats and storytelling lyrics about his Midwest upbringing — he was born and raised in Massillon — and his love for cars. Calling his sound "intelligent trunk music," he hopes to make it synonymous with Midwest hip-hop.
Sounds system: Part of what appeals to Stalley about making music is telling his story. "When [people] listen to the music I want them to feel like they're in the passenger seat with me, taking that cruise through the city while I'm pointing out what's going on. I feel like it's important in music in general to do that. It's more than just heavy beats and dancing."
Ball is life: Growing up, Stalley played high school basketball and was even offered college scholarships for the sport before injuries benched him. But he's always embraced Massillon's love for high school football. "Every Friday night the whole city shut down. It brought the community together no matter race, gender or whatever. It's a beautiful thing."
Ride along: The only thing Stalley raps about as much as Ohio is his love of cars, specifically Chevys. "My pride and joy is an '87 Monte Carlo — black with red stripes and red-lined tires. "I think there is no better freedom than having your car with a tank full of gas. You don't have to have a destination. You just ride."
Beard care: Stalley started growing his beard in 2009 when his first mixtape dropped. He wanted something to grow with him throughout his career. But his Muslim upbringing means the beard also carries a religious and cultural significance. "It's unfortunate what's happening with ISIS, because Islam is not for that. It's the total opposite. So I try to wear [the beard] and be a good example for people."
School days: When he's not recording new tracks or touring, Stalley, who majored in English at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, hangs out with his 5-year-old daughter, Kylie. "She likes to dance. She's doing the Nae Nae. We watch Vine compilations. She just started kindergarten. She's learning all her sight words and learning how to read. We spend a lot of time doing that."