Calvin Holmes (born September 28, 1993 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), better known as Allegheny Cal, is an American rapper/producer best known for his penchant for story-telling, and providing innovative, unique hip hop. He has released two mixtapes with his first in 2016, the “Sincerely Yours EP” and his second “Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing” which was released on October 10, 2017.
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Allegheny Cal is no stranger to living in an environment that’s less than conducive to success. Raised on Pittsburgh’s Southside, Cal witnessed the hard life firsthand in the dilapidated public housing project “Arlington Heights”. Here, is where Cal first discovered his passion for hip hop – and would spend countless hours studying the culture and honing his craft. Inspired by rappers like Lloyd Banks, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, and producer/rapper Black Milk, Cal started rhyming about his life and the issues facing inner city residents as he saw it from his perspective in Pittsburgh.
The Steel City’s most famous musical resident to date is Wiz Khalifa, so much so, that the Pittsburgh City Council declared 12-12-12 (December 12, 2012) to be Wiz Khalifa day in the city. His desire to rep “The Burgh” and the east coast alike drove Allegheny to start recording and pushing his music online as well as the streets, where he has begun to garner fans drawn to his original style, slightly off-kilter flows, and deeply personal lyrics about the problems he and his fellow community has faced being raised in the rough inner cities across the United States.
Cal cites New York rap and Black Milk as his major influences, and it shows in his ability to illustrate chillingly tense street stories of violence, over his smooth – yet sometimes awkward jazz laden production. Ultimately Cal shows and proves with his rhymes, which demonstrate the promise of a legend in the making. His skills, relaxed demeanor, and incredibly open book approach establish Cal as a true artist. He’s ready to represent for Pittsburgh, the East Coast, and anyone who relates to the struggle of inner city life. As Allegheny tells it: “Making beats and writing rhymes was my escape, I knew being a rapper was what I wanted to do most. My music is full of soul—and it’s honest. And my goal is to ultimately inspire anyone familiar with the realities of the projects to gather the courage to create an escape for something you believe in. Boldly proclaiming “If you’re not a fan now, that’s ok. Just know that what you’re hearing is always going to be the real me – I have no fear in expressing myself, and ultimately I hope you can become a fan of my character later.”
Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?
Allegheny Cal: First off, I’d like to thank you guys for the interview. It’s definitely appreciated. With that said, I was born and raised on the Southside of Pittsburgh, PA. I was the youngest of 6 children, where we grew up in a 2 BR apartment in one of Pittsburgh’s roughest neighbourhoods…it was here where I first found my love for the culture. I remember writing my own rhymes when I was only 4 or 5 years old, and as I grew older I slowly transitioned from being a kid who just liked rapping…to becoming an artist who can hopefully inspire anyone who believes society never gave them a chance. My love for the culture, and helping others is what has driven me to chase this rap dream and go as far as I possibly can in the game.
Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
Allegheny Cal: Having a plan is definitely what is most important. It doesn’t matter if you believe you have the hottest records out, or the best bars; if you don’t have a plan to market your product correctly, and if your package comes off as unprofessional…you won’t get very far. So my best recommendation is to take your music and your brand seriously, sit down and really think of a plan of how you want to push your music, and present that plan in a professional package. Do not be afraid to come out of your pockets some if it means it will help push your music further.
Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that?
Allegheny Cal: I think everyone makes mistakes at some point. Best thing to do is to keep rolling with the punches. If the crowd throws a hook try not to throw one back lol, but just keep rolling with the punches, be confident and continue to rock that stage. Keep your composure and perform like you’ll never get that opportunity again.
Exposed Vocals: Do you tour? Anything interesting happen on tour that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about?
Allegheny Cal: I have not yet done a tour.
Exposed Vocals: Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now?
Allegheny Cal: I’m finally working out of a professional studio for the first time in my career. Beforehand, I did everything from my apartment. Vocals, mixing, mastering all with about as little equipment as you could possibly get away with. I feel like making the transition to a real studio will be a huge step moving forward in pushing my music out to a broader audience. With a more clean/professional sound, hopefully I’ll continue to gain more exposure which in return, lead to my music getting in the hands of those who can help advance my music.
Exposed Vocals: How do you find ways to promote your music? What works best for you?
Allegheny Cal: I’ve mostly been promoting my music through connections I’ve made while travelling around the country. I’m not a big fan of spamming inboxes hoping that someone will click my music just for a play. I’d rather have more organic growth by socializing with the people I meet who share the same interest in the craft that I do. And I find that if people can vibe with and respect me as a person, they’ll be more inclined to want to share your music to the people they know who will continue to share it to the people that they know and so on. My hope is that as my music continues to get more exposure, everyone who’s a fan is not only a fan of my product…, but a fan of my character in general and hopefully that leads to a really tight knit fan base that can all relate to each other in one way or another. No matter what walks of life they come from.
Exposed Vocals: If you could perform anywhere and with any artists (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? Why?
Allegheny Cal: I would definitely say Lloyd Banks and Prodigy at the Garden. Those are two of the guys that inspired me most so if I would’ve been able to make some music with both of those dudes and share the stage that would’ve been crazy. I couldn’t even imagine
Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
Allegheny Cal: Right now, I’m just focusing on the follow up to my last project “Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing” and for those who haven’t already go ahead and check that out lol. I don’t have a title yet, but I’ve already got several tracks recorded and ready to go; the plan is to drop that project sometime in the early spring.
Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
Allegheny Cal: I’d probably be a psychologist or something man. I’d probably be using words somehow, somewhere to help people keep pushing to get what they want. Otherwise I might’ve tried to give sports a shot too. That’s a good question though, I think there’s a lot of things I might be doing but I think I would’ve really gotten into psychology or something like that first.
Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in the next year or so?
Allegheny Cal: Fans can definitely look out for more material from me. I’ve been a bit stingy in the past, but now that I’m more confident in my craft and have more experience; definitely expect to hear plenty more music from me. The plan is to drop 3 projects this year, and we’re gonna push plenty of music videos as well to get this thing rolling. 2018 is going to be a big year for us so I’m ready to get to it and give fans plenty of music to rock to all year.
Exposed Vocals: Any Shout-outs?
Allegheny Cal: Want to give a big shout out to King Cash (IG:@official_andrewgreen) and King KO (IG: @kngko) from back home in da burgh. Both of them have definitely been grinding too and are part of the team, so definitely be on the lookout for more music from those two as well.
Also I’d like to shoutout my homie and producer Zee from Kansas City (IG: @thatdudenamedzee). He has a big compilation project coming out very soon, and we’re working on some more 1 on 1 collaborations as well. He’s bringing a lot of new sounds to the game so that’s definitely a name people want to keep an eye out for moving forward.
And lastly, I wanna shoutout myself lol. You can follow me on IG @alleghenycalpgh – make sure you cop that Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing project as well over on datpiff, and go ahead and check out my website too (thefoundationinc.com) to be on the lookout for more news and music coming SOON.
Thank you again as well Exposed Vocals for the interview, and I look forward to speaking to you guys some more in the future as once we get this train rolling.