Agallah :: The Album :: (no label)
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Did you ever ask your boy to burn you a CD copy of some long out of print album he happened to have? Something dope and ridiculously unavailable, like Nice & Smooth's self-titled debut LP, or the Ice Cube "Kill at Will" EP. You probably expected a full-sized CD case and a color photocopy of all the artwork inside right? I know what you got though - you got an Imation brand CD-R sleeve that was almost thinner than a sheet of paper, and some handwritten liner notes listing all the songs on the album if you were lucky. Getting the whole package from somebody rarely happens, since it's so easy to churn out discs and so much more expensive and time consuming to duplicate all the material that comes with it.

Agallah's CD is about a half-step above that - no, a quarter-step at best. Of course many people say that you can't judge a book by it's cover but if you get a CD from a supposedly professional rap artist that looks like your boy's Imation brand CD-R copy you have to wonder about the thought process. This is a rapper who has recorded on major label rap albums from EPMD to Tony Touch. This is a rapper who has dropped singles on Elektra, Game Records, and D&D. An industry vet, who split ears open last year with his catchy Sesame Street parody "Crookie Monster." Why would somebody with this many things going his way even consider putting his name on a piece of shit like this? My copy has an poorly folded insert that looks like it came off somebody's DOT MATRIX WITH A COLOR RIBBON printer. The CD inside looks even worse - a poorly resized Agallah graphic (looks blown up with Photoshop) that was quite obviously slapped on with one of those home CD labelling kits. Even your boy's homemade CD looked better than this.

There are some times that this book is better than it's cover, and some tracks that honestly reflect the poor presentation the package makes. Production values are all over the place, and can't be properly credited or discredited to any one beatmaster due to the lack of liner notes. Songs that work include the aforementioned "Crookie Monster", the rugged "Feel This" with PMD, the snappy attack of "Who Wanna Battle" and EPMD's "U Got Shot" from their otherwise mediocre "Out of Business" album -- and one starts to wonder if the people behind this poorly produced CD with no record label listed had Def Jam's permission to re-release it or not. In fact this is not the only track - Agallah lifts anything he appeared on whole such as the D&D Project "Kill It" with Craig G and R.A. the Rugged Man.

The actual exclusives are not much to write home about because even though Agallah was interesting in small doses his punchline delivery and gruff-voiced flow quickly gets tiresome. It doesn't matter whether he raps with Shyheim, Heltah Skeltah (Ruck in particular appears throughout) or unknowns like Ike Eyes and Blick Street - you quickly end up wanting to hear the guests more than the featured star himself. Before releasing this uneven and poorly produced album Agallah could have been said to be an up-and-coming industry veteran looking to blow up big on the indie rap scene. This CD conveys exactly the opposite impression - an overrated underground MC who made a couple of big cameo raps and is trying to eat off it with cheaply produced, crappy sounding CD's made in his mom's basement. The weak beats and rhymes of "Undisputed" illustrates this clearly as Agallah professes he will "eat up rappers like red meat" and "make yo' eye blacker than X-Clan." Then he has the audacity to say "Even stupid motherfuckers know the meaning of stupendous" when what he really meant to say was "Even an idiot knows a piece of shit when he smells it" - because that describes this album perfectly. Avoid with extreme prejudice.

Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4 of 10

Originally posted: June 15, 2001