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Despite the fact he doesn't glorify the gangbanging lifestyle he once led, rejecting the common archetype of hardcore West Coast rappers, Watts/L.A. native Glasses Malone's explosive mixtape run placed him far ahead of the crop of "New West" MCs who emerged in the mid- to late 2000s. Malone actually grew up between the Watts and Compton neighborhoods in Los Angeles. His whole family was very deep in the illegal drug trade (his mother was convicted and sentenced to prison for 25 years). He eventually abandoned hustling drugs and gangbanging to pursue music fully. He immediately made a big impact with street albums The Crack Mixtape (2003) and White Lightning (2005), which together sold in the tens of thousands and provided a number of hits for L.A. radio. The buzz he created from those two mixtapes alone stirred up a high-end, major-label bidding war that included Def Jam, Atlantic, and Aftermath as suitors. However, in late 2005 Malone signed a whopping $1.7 million distribution deal with Sony for his Blu Division imprint. Unfortunately, Sony underwent massive restructuring the following year, which included eliminating the label's urban division. Malone was released from his contract in 2007, but wasted no time in securing a joint deal with Cash Money and Westside Connection MC Mack 10's Hoo Bangin' imprint practically a week later. He then offered up his first proper single, "Certified," with hook crooner Akon, which slowly made its way into national radio rotation. Despite the momentum, Malone's first album hit more snags until it was finally released as Beach Cruiser in August 2011. Q-Tip, DJ Toomp, and the Cataracs were among its producers. ~ Cyril Cordor, Rovi