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Brooklyn-based rapper Half-a-Mill climbed his way up from the underground in the late '90s and nearly broke into the mainstream. His initial breakthrough came in 1997 with an appearance on the one and only album by the Firm, a highly touted supergroup featuring Nas, AZ, Nature, and Foxy Brown alongside producers Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters. Following this high-profile appearance, Half-a-Mill then contributed "Some Niggaz" to the Def Jam-released Belly soundtrack in 1998, setting the stage for his solo debut, "Thug Ones." The momentous track, which featured Noreaga, Kool G Rap, and Musolini, sent ripples through the New York hardcore rap scene in 1999 and became the leadoff single for Half-a-Mill's debut album, Million. Unfortunately, the album, released in 2000, didn't do as well as many had expected, moving only about 40,000 units -- a respectable number yet not quite on a par with the big boys -- and the Brooklyn rapper lost much of his momentum. He returned two years later in 2002 with his second effort, Da Hustle Don't Stop, which Warlock Records had preceded with the release of "Still." With its defiant hook, this radio-serviced single took aim at those who claim Half-a-Mill had fallen off: "Still gangsta/still ghetto/still street." ~ Jason Birchmeier