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The brainchild of three friends from Vitry-sur Seine, a southern suburb of Paris, came to fruition in 1996 when French hip-hop group 113 hit the scene. Under the wing of hip-hop collective Mafia K'1 Fry, Yohann Duport (A.P.), Karim Brahmi (Rim' K), and Mokobe (Mokobe Traore) cast their creative nets far from the banks of commercial hip-hop, using the rap art form to pay homage to their African and Maghreban heritage and incisive lyrics to give voice to their Euro-immigrant experience. 113 earned their first scrap of notoriety with the 1998 single "Truc de Fou" (Tricks of the Insane) from their debut release, Ni Barreaux, Ni Barrieres, Ni Frontieres (Neither Bars, Nor Barriers, Nor Frontiers). Their work was soon included on commercial compilations like Planet Rap II, Freestyle Operation, and Premiere Classe, introducing 113 to hip-hop lovers beyond their own underground circle. The trio's first full-length record, Les Prince de la Ville (The Princes of the City), featuring the single "Tonton du Bled," hit shelves in 2000. In addition to strong sales, the album won 113 the accolade of "Revelation of the Year." Subsequent releases 113 Fout la Merde (2002) and Dans l'Urgence (2003) earned the respect of fans and critics alike, paving the way for 113's breakthrough record. 113 Degres (2005) earned a slot in Billboard's European Top 100, becoming one of the year's top sellers. With their newfound clout, the group released its 2006 record, Illegal Radio, on the independently controlled Frenesik label. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez