In a state where Kansas City native Tech N9ne and his posse of high-energy scalawags reign supreme, Stevie Stone is Columbia's steady hip-hop connection.
At first glance, Stone's short, impressive retrospective reveals he might very well be on the path to stardom. He began his music career opening for Tech himself at a local festival, then followed the typical rap pattern. He constantly produced new material in the form of street mixtapes and eventually signed to Ruthless Records, releasing his full-length debut LP, New Kid Comin', in fall 2009.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Stone is his vision of the future. Sure, he's focused on typical sideshows such as a blooming acting career, clothing line and general entrepreneurial monopolization, but his message is contradictory to rap clichés.
"I want to be somebody that helps out others: the community, the kids," Stone said. "Most importantly, I want to put a positive image on hip-hop."
When asked to elaborate on this seemingly unprecedented statement (from a rapper, at least), Stone insisted, "I have a lot of messages to give to people. The sky is really the limit, you know what I mean?"
Stone's career path could've been a lot different.
"When I graduated school, I had a full ride to play basketball at a junior college in Des Moines," he said.
For those of you who just shuddered at visions of "multi"-talented ballers Ron Artest and Shaquille O'Neal, never fear. For Stone, music comes before everything else.
"My heart was in the music," Stone said excitedly. "I came down, did my first show with Tech and never turned back. I got offered the same scholarship a year or two later, but by then I had moved on."
The road to discovery was full of breaks for Stone. After a few years of putting out street tapes, he was signed to a production deal by a St. Louis group funded by, among others, the wife of St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt. He then did a Billboard showcase in Florida, where the CEO of Ruthless Records bumped into Stone's production manager. Continuous talks led to Stone's signing, and some long hours in the studio resulted in New Kid Comin'.
"When you first start out, you think everything is gonna happen overnight," Stone said. "But it takes patience. With Ruthless, the stars were aligned. My ideas for the record were the same as their ideas for the record. Mixtapes are raw and rough sometimes, but with an album, you've got to paint a picture."
Stone finds himself back in Columbia on Sept. 4 at The Blue Note, and no one is more excited about this than Stevie himself.
"Going to school here for so many years, I know so many people," Stone said. "They're all gonna come out, and I get to show off what I've been working on."
Stone likes to put things in perspective, and despite having played in front of more fans in other cities, he's excited about the show at The Blue Note.
"It's always big," Stone said. "Nothing really compares to coming home."