The Ohio-based rapper only works with people he's close to.

Photo of Stalley

"It's been a dope, dope, dope, dope experience."

Stalley is seven days into a tour with Kendrick Lamar that brings him to the House of Blues tonight, and he's clearly enjoying himself. The Ohio-based rapper has been developing his reputation in recent years, playing shows, making guest appearances on other rappers' albums including Curren$y's Pilot Talk, and releasing mixtapes. 2011's Lincoln Way Nights got the attention of Rick Ross, who signed Stalley to his Maybach Music Group. 

"This is the first tour I've been a part of, so I'm happy."

While touring's new to him, New Orleans isn't. He reconnects with Curren$y on "Hammers and Vogue" for this year's mixtape, Savage Journey to the American Dream, and he's shot four videos in New Orleans with 2-Cent Entertainment's BMike. Their relationship started after BMike approached Stalley after a show he played a show at the Howlin' Wolf with Jay Electronica and Mos Def (now Yasiin Bey). "He said he was a fan of the music and he shot video," Stalley says. "The next day we shot the 'Babblin' video and that was that."

He met Curren$y not in New Orleans but in New York. They played a show together, then got to know each the next day. Soon, they were tracking together, and Stalley says that's the way it tends to work for him. "I only work with people who I'm friends with first. I have to be with someone who's of like mind and we have similar goals and want the same things out of music. When you meet people and talk to them in that way, the music comes over that way too."

So far, Stalley's career has been defined by mixtapes, and though his most recent one has a clearly thought-out concept about the nature of the American Dream and the pursuit of it, he can quickly count off the ways that it and other mixtapes are different from albums: "The quality of music, the time you put in to it, the time you have to create the mixtape. It's just orchestrating it on all levels. When you're doing a mixtape, you want the same quality and you put the same energy and time into it, but it's not going to be as broken down and precise. You might want to use live instruments. You really get more time to pamper the project."

He looks forward to his debut album for the Maybach Music Group, which is due out early next year. At this point, Stalley's halfway through the recording process, and all he can say is, "It's going to be classic."

His association with MMG has changed his profile in much the same way that being a part of Lil Wayne's Young Money Cash Money and Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music Group does. "It puts me in front of a lot more ears and eyes that I might not have got if it was just me doing it independent," Stalley says.

And his relationship with Rick Ross? It sounds a lot like the one Lil' Twist described with Lil Wayne. "He's like a big brother. Like a mentor, someone who's been in the game for years. He gives me a lot of good advice and a lot of good guidance with my young career."