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Born James Kelly, rapper LMNO grew up in Long Beach, CA, as part of the surf and skate scene. There was also a thriving underground hip-hop scene in southern California, which inspired the budding musician to begin crafting his own demo tapes. The hard work paid off, eventually netting LMNO a verse on "B.F. Sound Check," a track from Circle of Power's 1993 self-titled album. However, his true break arrived in 1995, when friends Key-Kool and DJ Rhettmatic released Kozmonautz — not only setting the stage for the Visionaries crew, but also giving the young rapper an opportunity to rhyme next to Ras Kass on the song "E=MC5," which vastly increased his public profile (it's rumored that when Eminem went to California in 1997 to work with Dr. Dre, he asked what LMNO was about).
In 1998, the Visionaries — comprised of Key-Kool, Rhettmatic, 2Mex, LMNO, Lord Zen, and Dannu — released their debut, Galleries, followed two years later by Sophomore Jinx. LMNO then set about recording material under his own name, and soon the singles "Hit the Fence," "Radiant," and "Grin & Bear It" — the latter two of which were then included on his 2001 debut, Leave My Name Out whose title explained the acronym behind his name — were released via the Battle Axe label. Though his rhymes often referred to Jesus and abstaining from meat, LMNO didn't want to label himself as a Christian or vegetarian rapper, preferring to keep himself open to all audiences. A new Visionaries album, Pangaea, appeared in 2004, as well as a second LMNO record, Economic Food Chain Music, both of which were released on Up Above. This was followed the next year by P's & Q's, while the Visionaries' We Are the Ones (We've Been Waiting For) arrived in 2006. LMNO released his own 32-track solo effort, Let'emknow, soon after.