Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)
Ohio has long been a hotbed for musical talent. The birthplace of Rock & Roll and home of the genre’s hall of fame, everyone from Trent Reznor and The Black Keys to Marilyn Manson and David Grohl call the Buckeye State home. Ohio is also known for its funk roots. Bootsy Collins, Roger Troutman, Lakeside, and The Ohio Players all hail from the Dayton and Cincinnati area. It was the funk sound that laid the foundation for a lot of hip-hop, most of which would be founded far from its base. Compton natives Dr. Dre and DJ Quik, in particular, heavily sampled Ohio’s brand of funk and painted a sonic picture heavily influential in donning the G-Funk era. But what about Ohio?
Ohio’s hip-hop culture wouldn’t gain wide-scale exposure until Bone Thugs-n-Harmony hit the scene during the early to mid 1990s. It’s no surprise why Eazy-E had his eye on the Cleveland quintet. But even their style had its biters (or maybe they bit, you’d have to ask Three 6 Mafia). Regardless, many of those who had heard B.O.N.E. post 1994, even in Ohio, would have dubbed the group a band of Midwestern emcees with a West Coast sound. But it wasn’t West Coast. Ironically, it was a sound born right in their backyard.
As the years passed many who made names in hip-hop music from the country’s heart did so with a wide arrange of melodies. From Hi-Tek and RJD2 to even newer acts like King Chip and Kid Cudi no two artists bore the same sound wave. It’s still difficult to define Ohio’s tenor but in 2014, but a major label artist is attempting to tackle the feat. Massillon native and Maybach Music Group signee Stalley is determined to create his version of what he believes his home state’s sound is. It’s precisely the reason he titled his major label debut Ohio. His rust belt roots and Midwestern humility embody the personality of someone from his blue collar town.
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