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Connecticut-via-Chicago hip-hop artist Chris Lowe first started out as an up-and-coming beatsmith in the late '80s and early '90s, cultivating his skills in the same school of golden age hip-hop as esteemed producers Erick Sermon and Large Professor. Along with partner Dooley-O, Lowe was responsible for producing Stezo's 1989 rap hit "It's My Turn," which is credited as being the first record to use the widely sampled breakbeat from the Skull Snaps' "It's a New Day." Having studied under legendary '80s hip-hop producer Paul C, as did frequent Lowe collaborator Large Professor, he mainly worked with EPMD and their crew the Hit Squad in that same late-'80s/early-'90s time period. However, due to label hang-ups, Lowe barely had any output as a producer or an MC during the rest of the '90s, except for a few 12" singles here and there. Lowe's first two solo LPs, Black Life (2004) and Black Life 2: The Next Thing Smokin' (2007), didn't arrive until well over a decade after his initial work. The former album was a combination of new tracks and those obscure 12" records, but it was still fresh for most listeners, containing features from Large Professor, Parrish Smith (of EPMD), and Sadat X as well as Dooley-O and Stezo. Moreover, the LP earned Lowe a spot on URB magazine's Hot 100 artists of 2004. The follow-up album had all new material but no guest appearances. Both LPs, however, aired out his gripes with contemporary hip-hop; their '90s-styled boom-bap productions made his records sought-after products for hip-hop traditionalists.