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Consistently maintaining intact his self-assured and cocky attitude, West Coast gangsta rapper Ya Boy quickly made the right connections in the industry as a developing MC in the Bay Area's independent rap scene. As a youth coming up in San Francisco's Fillmore District, a neighborhood known more for its violent crime than its jazz heritage, Ya Boy (born William Crawford) caught the hip-hop bug early on because of Bay Area mainstays San Quinn and Messy Marv, who are his first cousins. The local buzz surrounding the eager rapper began with the song "16's with Me," which sampled the Darth Vader theme, "The Imperial March," from Star Wars. He continued to release many mixtapes and local singles with the support of cousin San Quinn's independent label, Done Deal Entertainment. On his 2005 debut album, Rookie of the Year, he gathered Bay Area rap luminaries, like E-40 and producer Rick Rock, to cement his status as a noteworthy newcomer. Also around this time, the Bay's more club-oriented hyphy movement started to bubble over into the national mainstream, but Ya Boy didn't follow the trend, still brandishing his style of gangsta rap. In 2006, he amicably left his cousin's label to pursue opportunities with his uncle, who was an executive at Compton rapper the Game's Black Wall Street imprint. His affiliation to the Game allowed him to work with top industry producers and lead to greater exposure outside of the Bay Area locale as shown by his feature in The Source magazine's "Unsigned Hype" column.