The most remarkable fact about Stalley might not be his affiliation with hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, his partnership with legendary producer Ski Beatz or his membership in rap supergroup Center Edge Territory with Mos Def, Curren$y and Jay Electronica.

The most remarkable fact about Stalley might not be his affiliation with hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, his partnership with legendary producer Ski Beatz or his membership in rap supergroup Center Edge Territory with Mos Def, Curren$y and Jay Electronica.

What's most extraordinary is that he accomplished those feats as a native of Massillon, Ohio. Now based in Brooklyn, he'll perform in Ohio for the first time Friday at Skully's.

Stalley never dreamed of rap stardom growing up as Kyle Myricks in blue-collar Massillon, where high school sports are king.

"When I was there I was more focused on school and basketball," Stalley said in a recent phone interview.

A hoops star, Stalley was set to play ball at Michigan when a foot injury derailed his career. He attempted to revive his basketball fortunes at Long Island University, but his passion for the game depleted in the wake of his injury.

Soon his focus shifted to rap. He had freestyled since childhood but never considered recording until he was encouraged by his New York friends. He was still on the fence about it until the day he played his first EP for some friends in a Soho record shop.

One of the owners of the shop happened to be Mos Def, who randomly dropped by that day. He showered Stalley with praise.

"That was the kick in the butt," Stalley said, comparing Mos Def's endorsement to the attention he received from college basketball scouts.

"That's when you're like, OK, maybe I need to go shoot 500 jumpers every day. Maybe I need to go run four miles a day. Maybe I need to go to the weight room."

The hip-hop equivalent of that regimen was simple: "I instantly went home and just started rapping."

He built up a huge stockpile of tracks, leading to the 2008 mixtape "Goin' Ape," a collaboration with Cleveland ex-pat Terry Urban.

The following year he released "MadStalley: The Autobiography" over re-worked jazz-hop beats by Madlib. Stalley always aims to avoid rap's "money, guns and hoes" cliches, but the content of "The Autobiography" was particularly meaningful for him.

"That was more of a strategic mixtape. I picked the production specifically to fit what I was trying to do. Since I had more eyes and ears on me, I was trying to relay that story and show that transition from a small town of Massillon to New York," Stalley said.

"Anybody can rap. Anybody can put words together. But my thing was to help people know who I was."

That's becoming less of a problem every day as Stalley accumulates famous friends and turns the heads of hip-hop listeners worldwide. He's got more mixtapes in the works and a slew of labels lining up for the right to release his debut LP.

"For the next year," he said, "I'm going to be taking over the world."