Nearly three years after the UGK legend’s tragic death, rappers from the Lone Star State and beyond continue to pay regular tribute to Pimp C, and it’s no mystery why: behind the Southern-fried swagger, hot instrumentals and female dog/gardening implement-peppered verses beats the heart of a born leader with an ironclad commitment to realness. Thus, it’s only right that, in his first feature, Stalley evokes the late great’s memory as he takes on the fakers and wannabes: “Take that Monkey Ish off, you’re embarrassing us.” Rashad Thomas’ boardwork, fueled by that classic quote (from Three 6‘s Sippin on Some Syrup) as well as some sampled grunts from Syl Johnson’s Different Strokes (see also Kanye‘s The Joy) sets the stage for bars that are equal parts combative and contemplative. Lamenting that “There’s no leaders in the game, just a bunch of monkeys tryin’ to hang in packs and do the same thing,” the Ohio native commits himself to bearing the mantle of true hip-hop. Think Stalley might be the solution to the industry’s woes? Then you’ll most definitely want to check what else he and his behind-the-boards partner have to offer on Lincoln Way Nights, due out Jan. 11.