Albee Al is not your average street rapper. Hailing from New Jersey City, real name Albert Francisco has been to hell and back more times than he can count. In 2010, he was charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to over 100 years in prison. It was until four years later he was acquitted of all charges and released as a free man. In that moment, he found music as his calling. Read more…
It wasn’t about the money or the fame, it was about rapping to escape his pain. A direct product of his environment and coming out the trenches, the self-deemed Gladiator channels 29 years of pain and suffering into his music.
This isn’t a second chance at rap, it’s a second chance at life.
For those who don’t know, who is Albee Al?
Albee al is a movement. Albee Al is a robot. Albee Al is a Super Saiyan. But most importantly, I’m the Gladiator. I’m a young rapper coming up from Jersey City, New Jersey. Born and raised in Marion projects, just trying to climb out the mud like quicksand. I’m just trying to figure it out. Everything is going good. I have a mean cult following because my fans just understand my story and my music. They love it. They can relate to it. They found something, and they rocking with it. The Gladiator is just a metaphor for who I am. Just somebody that came from the bottom, who has to fight for what he wants to stay alive. That’s what it is. It’s a metaphor of life, that’s how I look at it.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I have my own lane, my own sound as far as what I’m talking about. As far as hip-hop, I’m like an early 2000’s, mid 2000’s, 90’s. I’m a hardcore… remember when Tupac talked about females? I reach out for the gangsta part of it. I tell that side of the story. I don’t be all like, “Oh yeah, I’ll take you to Jimmy Choo. Get you these, get you that.” Nah I tell you what’s real. The pain. The stuff that you can relate, not the glittery and all that. The rough parts that you’re supposed to just hold onto. The pain and the memories.
You’re from Jersey, how does that play into your life and career?
it’s kind of difficult. Because over that way, they don’t want us to shine too much. Everybody is against each other out there. It’s no friendship. Whoever has the torch or spotlight never wants to share it. I’m glad I’m cool with a lot of rappers out there, mainly the people that’s up top. It’s just that there’s so much hate. Somebody will be ahead of you and they don’t to pass the baton. It’s impossible. It’s really every man against themselves out there.
How are some artists that you fuck with?
I’m real cool with Fetty Wap, that’s my bro. That’s my dawg. I’m cool with Kodak Black. AR-AB from Philly, that’s my dawg. I rock with him. Money Man. I’m cool with a couple people man. I guess the people that reach out to me, or I reach out to them. These rappers be bougie as shit. [laughs] They be bougie as hell. Most of the time, somebody’s favorite rapper is stuck up, like a pretty chick. But you act like you the hoodest person in the world, or the realest person.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
LA is mandatory, because it’s wide open. There’s opportunity out here, everywhere. Anywhere you go, you’re going to bump into somebody, you’re going to see somebody. The networking game out here is crazy, there’s no other place like this for networking. You’re going to meet somebody that knows somebody, and that’s somebody. It’s lit, I love LA. I fuck with it heavy.
I know you say at 10 you realized you wanted to do music. Can you bring us back to that moment?
Growing up watching Wu-Tang and watching Snoop Dogg, those were my favorite rappers. Everybody gravitated to Pac and fucked with Pac more, but I guess I was too young to get it. You know how Snoop Dogg got that flow? I could just catch onto the shit growing up. I always rocked with Snoop and I always rocked with Wu-Tang so me growing up watching TV and seeing that, because the videos were like a reality of what I was living. Like the Wu-Tang videos, I’m from the projects, and everything they representing is from the struggle. I was like, “Damn, that’s how were living.” It made me want to rap about what I’m going through too.
What was the inspiration behind keeping your real name?
‘Cause my pops. My pops name was Albee Al too as far as music. He used to do music too, he used to rap. His name was Albee Al so I’m like an Albee Al Jr. I’m just finishing where he left off.
“Ten Toes Down” is at over 3.1 million on YouTube. Did you foresee it blowing up like this?
I didn’t even know anything about it. My producer made the beat and I just felt something in it. But once I gave it a little snippet on Instagram, I knew something was going to happen. I just knew it. It was only a 40 second snippet and everybody was like, “Please drop it, please drop it.” And when I dropped it, the views were crazy.
Talk about your mindstate in creating this one.
Pain. It’s just pain, that’s my lane. I’m a rapper. I could rap all day, but I’m at my best when I’m going through something. Because that’s the best way of expressing myself, is through my music. I was going through a lot in that song. I was fighting demons, trying to bring me back to my old ways when I’m trying to progress and go forward. “Ten Toes Down” was just my pain and what I was going through. That’s why I said, “it’s so hard being real.” It’s hard being me. It’s hard.
You say you’re the voice of the struggle. What sets your apart from these other street rappers?
I’m more… what’s the word? I’m more hands on. I’m more involved. I know what’s going on more. I don’t take nothing from the rest of these street niggas, but I really was hands on. I still am but I’m trying to change. I’m getting older. I’m not the person that was looking out the window and seeing what’s going on, I was the person that the person looking out the window was looking at, ya feel me? That’s what I mean by that.
Did your brother Meech have a big part in you pursuing rap?
He’s the biggest part. I’m not even just saying that because he’s gone. Because if he was here right now, I would be saying that shit. He was my biggest fan. Nobody believed in me more than him. Since a youngin’, when I used to battle rap with kids at parties, he’ll be like, “My little brother better than this person, my little brother better than that person.” He’ll make sure I come. He always believed in me.
What’s the greatest lesson you learned in jail?
Don’t come back, straight like that. I used to walk around the yard with the people that ain’t coming home. They would always tell me, “Boy, you got another chance.” The same charges they had that they lost to, I had beat. It’s like I’m living through them. They were basically putting in my head, “if I had another chance at life, this is what I would be doing.” It’s like… I can’t go back. I can’t.
You just dropped your Super Saiyan project. What can we expect next?
I’m about to drop another mixtape called Koba. That’s the evil ape from Planet of the Apes. There’s a lot behind that. Koba was the ape that was for his kind and Caesar was the ape that was for everybody. Everybody loved Caesar but they didn’t understand Koba, so I look at it like that with me. Ya’ll don’t understand Koba’s actions because ya’ll don’t understand Koba’s pain. That’s why I move the way I move, because ya’ll don’t understand my pain. But if you understand it, you’ll get me.
On the new tape, I got Kodak Black on that. We got some shit. We recorded out in New York, but we in the studio tonight though. It’s lit.
Can you talk about your journey with Capitol Records?
Yeah I could talk about it. I’d love to talk about it. It was a waste of time actually. The people up there were cool, but business is business. It was a waste of time.
What branch was it?
It was under Priority. They did absolutely nothing for me. I really wasted my time with that. They didn’t do nothing. They didn’t put it nowhere, they didn’t give me no type of distribution. They didn’t even tell me it was dropping, they just put it out. People were telling me like, “Yo, your song’s out.” I was like, “What?” I only had one project with them and it was terrible. It was a great project but they didn’t help me push. Everything I did was on my own.
Who was it that signed you there?
I forgot his name. They were cool peoples. They nice guys, don’t get it wrong. Everybody knows how to smile and all that, but they did absolutely nothing for me.
What is your take on the music industry?
I be feeling like I’m being blackballed, honestly. No bullshit. I think I’m being blackballed. A label will come up to me and they’ll be like, “Oh yeah, I’m trying to sign you, how much you want?” Like big labels. I’ll say a price and they’ll be like, “What? That’s all you want? Aight bet, let’s make this happen.” Boom boom, I’ll say a price out there, like “let’s do it.
Then I think they go back and talk to people. They’ll be like, “Hell no, not Albee Al.” I swear I’m being blackballed. I know I am. It has to be. It’s not even a secret anymore. Everything about me as an artist, it can sell. Because I’m selling by myself. With a machine behind me, imagine how good I would do. They be so blunt with it. I think they think I’m a bad investment, but I’ve been out of trouble for 3 years.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
I just want to put myself and people I consider my family in a position so we could just eat for the rest of our lives. That’s how I feel about the music shit. I’m trying to milk it until its last drop. I’m trying to get everything I can get out of it so when I walk away from it, I could look back and smile.
How important is social media for your career?
Social media is your bag now. You can’t play with your social media because that’s how you sell yourself. That’s how you blow up. Social media is everything. Especially on Instagram, they got that new “promote” button. That shit work. You put some money on that and you put it in whatever city you want to promote at, and you pop up on people’s timeline. It’s lit. They gon’ follow you, and you good.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’ll probably be dead or locked up, that’s a fact. That ain’t no secret. I don’t have any other positive talent, honestly, but music.
Favorite song to perform in a set?
It gotta be “Been A Goon” now. Or “Remember I Was Starving.”
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
Aw man. Crying, passing out, shit like that. That shit be crazy. You are absolutely nothing without your fans, and I take that in pride. I take pictures after shows, I don’t care. I stop, whatever. It’s going down. Because who are you without them? You are nobody without them. Especially my fans, because it’s so hard for me to get where I’m going. Because I be feeling like I’m blackballed. Everybody be hating on me. They won’t let me be great, so my fans are my distribution. They are my word of mouth. They put people on. They get in that car and put the aux in. “Listen to Albee Al.” That’s how everybody comes, like “such and such put me on.” My fans are the dopest for real.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
I fuck with Money Man real heavy. I put that boy on and just zone out. I’m not no hater. I fuck with his music because what he talks about and how he talks about it, it’s like how I talk about it. You could talk about selling drugs, but there’s ups and downs to selling drugs. Everybody always talks about the up, nobody ever talks about the loss or the flip. Somebody stole you, somebody tried to rob you. He talks about all that shit and I rock with that shit. That’s how I know son got to be street nigga.
I wanna do a track with Hov bad as hell. Or Snoop Dogg and Method Man.
Anything else you want to let us know?
I just want to let them know that all this shit is possible. When you heading forward, when you’re goal is just to win — even if you don’t even hit the moon, they always say if you’ll be amongst the stars. If you’re just trying to win, you’re going to get further than where if you wasn’t trying to win. If you just sat there and do nothing, nothing’s gonna happen. But if you try something, something’s going to happen. You might not always hit the jackpot, get all the shit that you want, but you gon’ get something. It’s better than nothing, straight like that.