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Part of Portland's Misfit Massive Crew — which also includes Sly da Brown Hornet, Vursatyle, Razor Shines, and Jumbo — Libretto got an early start in hip-hop. Beginning at age 6, he held his own with other MCs in Jordan Downs, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles' Watts section. Libretto's father, a civil rights activist and Olympic coach for the U.S. track and field team in the 1976 and 1988 Summer games, moved the family to Portland in the mid-'90s. However, Libretto's early affinity for West Coast rap (as well as his father's social consciousness) stayed with him and served him well when he met the other rappers that formed the Misfit Massive Crew. On his own and with the rest of the crew — which also included Quannum Project signing the Lifesavas — Libretto performed locally and on tours with such prominent rap and underground hip-hop artists as Dead Prez, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, the People Under the Stairs, Latyrx, Blackalicious, and the Beatnuts. In 2002, he made his solo debut with the Dirty Thangs/Alma Mater single on One Drop; he then signed to Dim Mak, where he released the Volume EP and debut album Illoet (named after his description of his style, meaning "ill poet") at the beginning and end of 2004.