New York is where it all started and Agallah reps New York to the fullest. After many years of playing the background, from producing to emceeing Ag has never got his just deserts…till now. His album “You Already Know” drops on August 22nd on Babygrande Records. The album reads a who’s who in hip-hop, from Dead Prez to the Alchemist, to DJ Premier, Agallah called in all favors on this one and hopes to put out a classic album that will stand the test of time, while helping to bring New York back to the forefront of hip-hop. I got a chance to sit down with Ag and chat about the album, where hip-hop is is and what he’s doing to bring it back full circle. Back to New York that is.
How you feeling man, tell us what’s up.
Finally arriving, it feels good to finally release this album on Babygrande Records. I’m feeling vindicated after all these years in the game, it’s been a long journey. I feel like this album is a celebration of where I’m at and I definitely feel like this is a vindication effort of what I have brought to the table in hip-hop.
It’s crazy, because you got your first deal at 17 and now you’re….I don’t even know.
(Laughs) I don’t even want to go there. I’m old enough to know better and young enough not to care to quote E-40.
The album is called “You Already Know” and comes out on August 22nd on Babygrande, why go with Babygrande for the album.
I felt that they were the only label that was really giving us a shot, one of the shots that we could really respect and be independent. They allowed us to maintain who we are and take the game for what it is. All these cats are getting million dollar budgets, but they aren’t selling millions of records, if you look at Soundscan no records are selling. I’ve made most of my money off of mixtapes, not singles or anything like that. Mixtapes is what got me popping, because I’ve been doing it in the street. I felt like I was doing it in the streets and felt like I should be doing it in the industry as well. Chuck Wilson definitely gave us a shot and we just built from the ground up and are helping make Babygrande what it is.
Babygrande is definitely doing it right now, they are one of the premiere independent labels right now. Let’s chat about the mixtape game; you have a deep affiliation with the Dipset.
Yeah, more or less with Purple City we have supported the Diplomat movement. My man Shiest had the relationship with Jim Jonez as well as my man Rich. So Jim was hearing about me from both Shiest and Rich, which really gave me that co-sign for the movement. I was on the mixtapes with them from the ground up and with the song “Gangsta, Ryding for my Homies”; Jim loved it and put me on the mixtape. The song was undeniable, I said I was making joints that were classics and that joint is classic as far as mixtapes are concerned.
“You Already Know” is considered your official debut, but you had an album come out East West/Elektra in like ’96?
Yeah, that album “Wrap Your Lips Around This” came out but didn’t get properly distributed due to the label folding. That was the same label as Das Efx and I wound up befriended them and getting on “Generation Efx”, which was the last album dropped on that label before it folded.
When I first heard of you as an emcee you were going by 8-Off, why the name change to Agallah?
Basically, I was offending certain people with that name. I didn’t do it deliberately; I just felt I was a different type of battle rapper. I wasn’t on any Hitler level or anything like that, it was spelled completely differently and everything, it was the number 8 and the word off. Through the years, I just grew out of it and Agallah was birth from that. Agallah is who I am overall; my name is Angel Louis Agallah. It helped me grow from a young braggadocios emcee into a well rounded emcee. I was still trying to find myself at that time. I knew how to rap and make beats to a certain extent, I wasn’t crazy with the beats like I am now, but my potential grew into something special and I kept going with it. I love hip-hop and it’s sad what is going on right now. It’s like my best friend.
There has been different songs leaked or whatever, the joint with Alchemist and the Primo joint, what is the official first single?
The first single is “Club Hoppin” which is the commercial single for the clubs. Then I have a street single called “Hardcore”. I shot 2 videos, one for “Hardcore” and the other video is the Primo joint you were talking about called “NY Ryder Music”, a true classic off the album, and it’s serious. Real talk, you got Busta Rhymes bringing the moral back with his joint “New York Shit” and you got Tru-Life with “New New York” and I’m bringing you “NY Ryder Music”. We started this rap shit and it’s about the music. New York is the foundation, I’m not bragging about the state I’m bragging about hip-hop’s foundation and where it needs to be respected and where it needs to come back to. The lesson here is, if you don’t know where you came from you don’t know where you are going. If you don’t know where this music came from you don’t know where the music is going to go. Everything is coming full circle and I think it’s coming back to where it started which is New York. Its coming right back to the home of hip-hop.
Premier has really been doing his thing with the AZ joint, the Royce joint, the Termanology joint, plus doing half of Aguilera’s new record.
Exactly, I felt like me and Premier are two of the game’s greats. Working with him was really historical for me. He produced Gangstarr, Jay-Z, great records that we bowed our heads to like Biggie Smalls. Undeniably the man is a legend and he gave me that track and that’s exactly what it is that New York Ryder music. We are playing for keeps; I’m going to let y’all know I love all y’all. From the south to the west to the midwest, but please give respect where it is due. Stop acting like y’all made something and are running the game, this is not what it is and it’s not supposed to be that way. Where it starts is the DJ’s, DJ’s need to start showing love to New York artists in their own town. I’m not hating on any other artists but New York is the foundation and we need to realize that. I’m not knocking anywhere else that comes with a different sound, all I’m saying is rap started in New York, respect it.
You have another street single the “O.G.G.G” 12″ produced by and featuring The Alchemist. You guys have known each other a while, tell us about that.
Al has been a friend for a long time. I befriended him in the studio when we working with Group Home. Me and Al started vibing and we became real cool. We started hanging out, going to Miami together, going to spots or whatever, that’s my dude right there. Artistically he is one of the greatest producers I’ve ever worked with. Overall, he has been a friend and has really looked out for me. We used to shop beats together; he put me on and got me back on my hustle. Al is like a brother for that, I’ve always respected his work, real talk that’s my dude. I have a bond with him like no other on some real recognize real. He did 2 crazy records on the album; he did the “O.G.G.G.” (We Ryde Out) record and he did “On the Ave” which I co-produced along with him. Al gets down on the mic with me on “O.G.G.G.” (We Ryde Out). It’s been a dope project working with producers like Al and Preme on some real live non-generic hip-hop shit.
Who would you say is your biggest influence?
My biggest influence is definitely my family and my friends. But, as far as hip-hop, my biggest influences are Rakim, Run DMC, and the old era of hip-hop. One my favorites and always will be is Kool G Rap.
That’s crazy, every interview I have ever done every emcee says Kool G Rap.
Literally, he started Gangsta Rap, when nobody was doing it. The way he was putting words together was crazy, he is actually on the album on a song called “Right Now”. It’s a phenomenal record; shout out to G Rap and Ma Barker. Real talk, they got joints coming out soon and y’all need to check for that too.
Lots of things have leaked about the album; give us a true run down of who’s on the record.
I’ve got Dead Prez on the album, on the real side of things they are talking about what’s going on in the hood. They are colleagues of mine, M-1 and Sticman definitely jumped on that album and made incredible appearances on “In the Ghetto” and “Artificial Love”. My man Umi from POW is on the album, they are some real talented cats coming out of Atlanta. My boy Ike Oz, my longtime partner is on the album. He definitely stepped his game up and went in for this LP. I also have Nappy Roots; we did a record with them dedicated to my Moms called “Mama”. Rest in Peace to all the Moms that went through strife in their life and are no longer here with their children. We did a lot of meaningful records on this album along with the street joints.
What can we expect from Agallah next?
You are going to see a lot mixtapes on the streets, a lot more of those. The Best of Agallah coming real soon, make sure you check for “Propane Pfff” which is one of the best selling mixtapes since February. I’m doing the Ike Oz album; M-1 and I are working a project for next year. I’m doing a Lenny and Squiggy album which is me and Sean Price for all the Lenny and Squiggy fans out there. I’m just keeping it moving and I doing what needs to be done to make it pop off, we here. You are going to see more Purple City stuff, Shiest dropping “Summer Grind”. I’m going to be dropping “Propane Pfff” Pt II; we are going to hit you from all angles.
Well, man we are about to wrap this thing up, you got any shoutouts?
I want to give a huge shout out to everybody that supported the Agallah movement from day one. Ike Oz, I want to thank Babygrande Records, Chuck Wilson, my manager Ready Rock. The whole Mendoza family, all my RBG’s A-Alikes, Sticman, M-1, D-Don, Dose, Umi, POW, Scribe, and the whole movement. Kool G Rap, everybody that is on this album. My hood, Brownsville, Bedstuy, Brooklyn shout out, everywhere in the hood. When y’all see this, don’t say Ag didn’t look out I’m doing it daddy, I’m going in on this one. LA, my peoples in LA, my peoples in Detroit, everybody across the board and of course the man upstairs, the most high.
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