Agallah The Don
The eccentricities that make musicians loveable or unfuckwithable are often times glaring. Agallah the Don is an artist whose persona is one that lends to inspiration, excitement, and a genuine love of hip hop. It was my pleasure to interview him and to discuss topics such as his recent project with producer Alchemist, what he loves and doesn’t love about hip hop, and a secret that is pretty damn true, and real. Trill. Enjoy.
Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Agallah the Don. I am a producer and artist from Brooklyn, New York, Brownsville section. I grew up with Sean Price, Mike Tyson, and Zab Judah. Those are the people that came out of the Brownsville section. M.O.P. – there’s a lot of us that come out of the ghetto. Brownsville Houses. I am a friend of Sean Price as well. We didn’t grow up rappers. We just were born to do it, and it was kind of our calling to express ourselves and to be skillful. Everybody loves skill, and that’s what Brownsville is. We survive on skill. …we don’t have nothing.
If someone were looking for your music who hadn’t really fucked with you before, where would they find it? Where would be the best place to go?
You would find it by word of mouth. You will find my music in wax areas, maybe dollar bins in thrift stores, hip hop sections around the world, and you can find me on others records, collaborating with other artists, because I work with the mass appeal of a lot of artists in the game. I’m just working with a lot of people right now. Don’t matter if you from the East or from the West, I just work with skillful individuals. I like a lot of great artists, and work with a lot of great artists.
What about internet outlets?
Agallahthedon.tumblr.com. Also, you can check out facebook.com/Agallah. You can check out Twitter – @Agallahthedon. In the streets people know me, as I’m doing an open mic in Hollywood at the Brew Dog Pub every second Tuesday of the month. We’re doing a lot of things like that to bring new talent to the table, as well as the up and coming young artists that want to shine.
…and you just had a project with Alchemist? Tell me a little bit about it. How did that come about?
The project with Alchemist wound up being a 15 year span of our relationship as friends and producers. Hip hop tends to forget about history, and how people are in relationships with friends in the industry – of how many people that respect your work. Alchemist is one of those individuals that I work with that had a lot of great input in my career, as a friend, as also a producer. Himself, working alongside B-Real, Cypress Hill, and Soul Assassins, and my input working alongside EPMD, Busta Rhymes, Onyx, Dipset. We both share the same hat, and kind of like, visualize what dopeness is. On his level, as an artist and producer, as well as mine. When I dropped Past and Present, I called it that because, I’ve been working with him in my past, and this was my present. Shout out to him. We are an example of greatness. This is the bottom line.
What are you working on now? What’s next?
Agalito’s Way. That’s my next album that’s coming out. It’s my life story about how hip hop wound up being a factor in the elements of me being who I am. Things that I’ve done, people that I’ve produced for, people I’ve sat with in the studio with, or mentored, or helped and bring to another level. When they have no idea where they’re going, they come to me for help. I am the connector, so to speak. I was, but now I’m more the CEO.
I have albums with the greatest artists that nobody ever heard. One of them is Inspectah Deck from Wu Tang Clan. I have an album with him. I have an album coming out with Craig G, another great hip hop artist. We have a lot of great works in progress, more or less. …an album with Pete Rock, the producer, is in the works later on in the year. We’re talking about it. We’re formalizing it, but first and foremost, like I said, Agalito’s Way is the next album the public can expect from me.
How do you feel about this influx of people who, now, because of the internet, really can call themselves whomever they want? They can be a unicorn, a rapper, a producer, etc, if they wanted to call themselves that.
It’s a free world right now. People want to demand respect on any level. I feel like it’s that one platform where people can say that they’re hot without nobody tearing them down. It’s a freedom of speech, more or less, that people can say, “I’m hot. I don’t need a label. I’ll put out my record with my people,” and they believe in it. They’re following me on Twitter. They’re subscribing to my YouTube channel.
Your people are the ones that are going to support you, whether it’s a magazine, wax, music, or clothing. You need supporters. You need somebody around you to support that positive spirit, people that are going to bring you to believe that you’re going to make it. Your success is built on others, not just you.
What do you love and subsequently, what do you not love about hip hop in its current state?
I don’t love negative messages about life, which leads us to do negative things. We all live too freely. We all need some type of guidance and acceptance to lead us to greatness. That’s what my manager said. He said those exact things, “guidance and acceptance leads you to greatness”. You cannot allow the breakdown of anyone else delivering negative energy into your cipher. You will not win that way. You would have to win with some guidance and acceptance. That’s my whole offering to the universe, and to the way we work in righteousness within each other. Spirituality is a great thing too. That leads us where we need to be. It leads us to great things when I say, “Okay, I like this artist. I got an idea,” let me call him, and get on the phone with his manager, and respect the business way of dealing, first. Do not take it for granted, because nobody wants to give a chance, you have to earn it. That’s my biggest message. Earn your chance. Don’t expect nothing from just nothing. Create something out of nothing, be an alchemist. Create your lane. That’s what a lot of people have done to win, create their own lane, and succeed at that.
Creating the own lane is what the energy is going to do for you in hip hop. Tonight at Beat Swap Meet, we did a great set. It was well deserved and an honor to be amongst others that appreciate that energy. You can’t get that back. It’s like church. You can’t get that energy back, I mean it’s just a wonderful thing, giving the energy and receiving it back as one, because people want that. People want you to give them good energy. People need inspiration, and that’s what I do. I inspire others. I give them that with my music, my love, my heart, my soul, my friendship, and my guidance. I care. I actually do care. I do this for the love, not for a trophy. I love what I do. I love the people. I love what I do. That’s just the epitome of what I’m about.
…what are you listening to right now?
A lot of 60’s samples, 70’s samples, vinyl with beautiful women on the cover, and a lot of instrumentation of Frank Sinatra, Engelbert Humperdinck – his albums ,things of that nature that allow me to explore things that I wasn’t there for.
Who do you think your fan base is? Is it different than who you want your fan base to be?
Real musicians, and loved musicians of our culture. I think my kids are my fans. People that I rock with – you. I’m a fan of you.
I’m a fan of you, so thank you, that works.
It’s cyclical. I get that.
It’s not about me, it’s about us knowing a great read of one another’s energy and accepting that. I feel that anytime I get with anybody and I can sit down and express myself, as well as they can talk, I’m with that. It’s not about me talking about me. It’s about me talking about the energy in the air. The energy that’s going around that’s going to connect with you and as well speak for you. How do you want to be addressed? How do I want to be addressed? How do I want to be looked at in the hip hop game? I learned not to be so much about me. Why? That’s what makes people special. Don’t think it’s about you at certain times. Don’t think it’s always about you. Learn to have consideration for others.
That’s an excellent life lesson.
I’ve learned so much, because it’s more than me. That’s one thing that I want people to understand, we all have to connect, we all have to respect others love for the culture. Hip hop. …and we got to be able to embrace one another like a hug, because ain’t many of us left to do this. I want people to understand that, no matter what you do, no matter how much money you get, no matter how many girls you’re trying to impress, no matter how much jewelry you got on your neck, at the end of the day, we all got to go sleep, shit, eat, and carry our family out it. There’s people depending on us. That’s what it is – hip hop.
Tell me a secret.
No, no. …nobody gets out of it. Tell me a secret.
Tell you a secret?
I need a pause on that one. I don’t even know. I wasn’t ready for that. That was – here’s a secret – let me think about this one. A secret – I got to think about this one, I’m sorry.
We’ll come back to it.
That one I wasn’t ready for. I don’t know no secrets to tell.
We’ll come back to that.
Can that be my answer? I don’t even know no secrets to tell. If you need to know something, just holler at me. How about that?
I might let you go with that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you need to know something, just holler at me. I’ll tell you a secret, but it can’t be on…
No, no, no. It’s going in the interview if it comes out. They always do. I always ask that question.
All right. Word. I thought you were sexy the first time I met you. How about that?
Boom. Secret. …it’s going in. Thank you.
She wanted it. That was the secret, she wanted it. So I gave it to her. I’m a real one, you feel me? Real G’s respect you heard it on Rap Verbiage. I think my interviewer is sexy. That one. Yeah, she in the back writing it up too. Agallah, real one. You heard it. If I wasn’t a real one, I would never tell you, in the backseat, my interviewer was sexy on some real shit. I salute this woman.
What do you want people to know about you?
I’m an artist, producer out of Brooklyn, Brownsville, that made a lot of great hits and still making great hits, and still be able to brand and market himself without nothing behind him. I’m not an industry based person. I’m a love, heart based artist that got a lot of money behind me right now. I also have beats and I have rhymes if you need any beats and rhymes from not only me, but also producers all around the world. We are controlling a lot of music coming out right now. One of my projects is Inspectah Deck from Wu Tang Clan – I have an album with him called Dons on Deck. I also have an album with Prodigy with all my beats. I also have an album with the one and only Craig G from Juice Crew. I also have an album with Pete Rock, the producer, coming soon. We have all these projects and that’s about to release, beat makers, DJ’s, all of that nature of hip hop that needs to be met. Shout out to Sean Price, another artist that I helped become one of the greatest rappers right now in the game. A top five in the underground culture. I am his friend. I am his family member. I am his producer, when nobody gave him a beat. That led him to be where he is right now. I also helped Dipset become a street credible group outside of Harlem, New York, in Brooklyn, where I’m from. I came to LA, California, with my dream of linking up with my old friend Ras Kass, who I also got an album with, one of the greatest rappers in the rap game. We’ve been building ideas every since I got here. My ideas have been my dreams, so it’s led me here to you. …and we kind of like sitting in a gold mine. We’re sitting around impossible, making it possible. That’s just what it is, out of anything we want, with the dream is, what your dream is, what my dream is. I’ve been doing that for the last 20 years, and that’s what I do. Outside of being a lyricist. I love hip hop.