Mixtape: Honest Cowboy
Producer: Block Beattaz

Stalley, for all his regular-guy charm, is also not the most exciting rap personality on planet earth. He is, however, really interested in being a rap star, and makes up for his less-magnetic characteristics by making really, really well-crafted records. The beat selection on Honest Cowboy is strong, and Stalley even lulled DJ Quik out of semi-retirement for a co-production credit with Cardo on the opening track, "Spaceships & Woodgrain."

But his collaboration with Scarface is even better. Calling a song with a Houston rapper "Swangin" is perhaps the least imaginative possible concept for a record. But it's the little things: Block Beattaz' nuanced, sparkling production sounds clear and labored-over, their attention to detail unparalleled. And of course, Scarface breathes life into even the most well-trod subject matter, as the drank, Screw music, and expensive tires are imbued with deeper implications:

Back to take you back to where you couldn’t ride slab
‘Cause the elbow killer comin’, tippin’ up the ave
And catch a nigga slippin’, then beat you for your shit
And put a bullet in your head, leavin’ your people sick
That’s why I be trippin’ when I see ‘em ridin’ Vogues
I whisper to myself, "Boy, these niggas don’t know."