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A lifelong resident of Milan and its suburbs, J-Ax (born Alessandro Aleotti on August 5, 1972) spent nearly 15 years as part of the hip-hop group Articolo 31, whose first album, Strade di Città, came out in 1993. With partner DJ Jad, the duo helped define Italian rap, mixing rhymes with both American and Italian rock influences. In fact, by the time Articolo got to their sixth album, 2002's Domani Smetto, they had practically turned completely to pop and rock (also perhaps because J-Ax worked on this particular album almost completely alone). Although a formal split was never officially announced, after the release of 2003's Italiano Medio Articolo 31 decided to take a break and work on their own projects. J-Ax, who had always gravitated toward American rock, particularly punk, began writing pieces for a solo album. In order to get the sound he wanted, he went to Los Angeles to record his songs, getting help from former Hole and Shift drummer Samantha Maloney, bassist Brian O'Connor, who had worked with Eagles of Death Metal, and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, from A Perfect Circle and Failure. Di Sana Pianta, an album that saw J-Ax continuing his often politically incorrect rants against society and for marijuana use, came out in 2006 and was an immediate success in Italy, despite the fact that it was much more California punk-inspired pop and rock than hip-hop (an exception being the opener, "S.N.O.B.").