Stevie Stone's life has changed dramatically in the last two years. During this time, the Columbia, Missouri native has gone from an independent artist with a regional buzz to a national artist who has completed four major tours and performed in front of hundreds of thousands of fans.
So for 2 Birds 1 Stone, his second Strange Music album, Stevie Stone wanted to incorporate how the progression of his professional career has altered the course of his life, both personally and professionally. "I was taking the elements of my life," he says. "In the business aspect, I'm always on the road. Then there's the personal, with my family, my kids. There's all these things I have to accomplish and get done and those are the two biggest birds and there's one me. I wanted to play off my name and make it real with my dealing with different things, my music and being on the road and being back home. It's just two elements of my life and it's one me."
The hyperactive title track, the confrontational "Get Out My Face" and turnt up "The Reason" all showcase Stevie Stone delivering the type of anthemic songs that have earned him legions of fans around the country. On these tracks, he's able to translate the boundless energy of his performances to his music.
"Come to a show and see what I'm talking about," Stevie Stone says. "It's the energy, the passion. When you give it to the people, they give it right back. So, it's a volleyball match of energy. It's an incredible feeling. When we're on stage, everybody on the label comes with a certain conviction that you can't deny."
That kind of confidence led to "Grave Digger," one of the most menacing 2 Birds 1 Stone selections. Recorded during a trip to Atlanta, Stevie Stone was inspired by the eerie beat to document the forceful nature of his music. "On that record, I felt like nobody was messing with me, that I'm not a rapper," he says. "I'm a grave digger. I be murdering tracks, burying it. It's really just a metaphor about how I feel I am in this game."
For all of the bravado displayed on certain 2 Birds 1 Stone songs, Stevie Stone also delves deep into the motivation that drives him on his new album. On the inspirational "Relentless," for instance, he raps about struggle and overcoming it. The hard-hitting song was inspired by a trip Stevie Stone took to his native Columbia, Missouri for the first time in several months.
"I hadn't seen any of my homies in a long time because we had been on the road," he says. "I went back and I just hollered at all the fam, all the homies that I grew up with. 'Relentless' is really a record for them. It's personal and they know these things that I'm talking about. They went through similar things. My message is that, 'It doesn't matter what your grind is. Just get it.' I've got homies that are lawyers, homies that are still in the hood. I'm just telling them to stay relentless. It's up to us to accomplish what we want to accomplish in life."
Stevie Stone shows some of his own progress on his new album by collaborating with Kutt Kalhoun and Brotha Lynch Hung, a rapper he's long admired, for the first time on "Hush." He also delivers a smoky ode to marijuana over a bluesy beat on "Indigo" and sings outright on "Boomerang." The latter also features Krizz Kaliko and finds the duo detailing the ups-and-downs of a relationship marked by tumult.
The biggest artistic statement on 2 Birds 1 Stone, though, may be "Boo Thing." Joined by Darrien, this R&B-flavored cut features Stevie Stone exploring a new sonic direction and rapping about relationships from a deep, emotional level. He says the song and its direction was borne from its beat. "I'm very comfortable in letting music guide me," Stevie Stone says. "That's an element that I've never done before. It shows growth compared to what I've been doing on my previous album and my EPs. It's got a different sound and swing, but I still made it me."
There's a reason Stevie Stone feels so comfortable expanding and experimenting with new and varied musical styles. As a child, his mother filled their home with gospel, blues and the work of Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross. At the age of five, Stevie Stone was already mesmerized by music.
Even an opportunity to play basketball at a junior college couldn't compete with the desire Stevie Stone had to make music. So when he had a chance to perform for the first time, Stevie Stone ditched his hoop dreams and dedicated himself to making music.
After a recording with Ruthless Records, the imprint of the late Eazy-E, whose roster has also included N.W.A, Bone thugs-n-harmony and others, fizzled, Stevie Stone reconnected with longtime affiliates Strange Music. His first release for Tech N9ne's label, 2012's Rollin' Stone, featuring the bass-heavy single "808 Bendin'" with Tech N9ne and "Dollar General" with Yelawolf. The latter was inspired by the 2007 film Street Thief and features Stevie Stone rapping about robbing a series of businesses.
In real life, however, Stevie Stone started touring the country, hitting the road with Strange Music on four major tours, including the recent "Summer Of Strange Tour 2013" with labelmates Krizz Kaliko and ¡Mayday! In addition to his hefty musical output and extensive tour schedule, Stevie Stone modified his diet while on the road in order to deliver better shows to his fans and to live a healthier life.
"This is my second go-round, my sophomore LP with Strange Music," Stevie Stone says. "It's my second wind. I'm more seasoned, more knowledgeable. I've done a lot of shows with them, even before I was signed. I've done four tours with them. I've got structure and am a lot more organized. I know the elements to put into a show. Strange Music prides itself in giving people a good show. All those elements are always what I've believed in and what they practice and preach, so it fits like a glove."