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Born and bred in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant section, Access Immortal was lauded as a strong up-and-comer in New York's hip-hop underground upon his 2005 debut album, Shades of Reality, with several critics fancying him as a Nas or Prodigy (of Mobb Deep) in their youthful prime. The underground MC sought out a career in rap after serving stints as a local DJ and an intern at New York's Fat Beats Records. He started with open mics in 2001 and eventually upgraded to bigger performance venues, like the CBGB's and SOB's, all over the East Coast. Immortal's first releases were a few self-pressed albums and 12"s, but he signed with independent label Early Spotter in spring 2005 before issuing Shades of Reality. Vanderslice, a friend and supporter during Immortal's formative years, handled most of the album's production; however, the producer used his industry contacts to acquire for the LP a variety of respected indie East Coast artists, including producers 7L and J-Zone as well as rappers Breez Evahflowin', Insight, and Wordsworth. Over the next year, Immortal entered the local mixtape circuit with New York Yankee and other various material. There was some controversy over the bootleg 9th Gate mixtape, which the Early Spotter label issued on its own, purporting it to be a collaboration with Little Brother producer 9th Wonder. In actuality, the beats were bootlegged from the Internet and never authorized to be used. Immortal eventually discontinued dealings with Early Spotter, moving over to the Philadelphia-based Introspect Records for his second effort, American Me (2007).