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Milpitas, CA's underground rapper Encore discovered hip-hop at an early age and tried his hand at many of the style's aspects, including DJing, breaking and popping, and graffing, but found rhyming to be the least expensive -- and most expressive -- way to become involved in the hip-hop scene. After he finished high school and left the army, Encore formed the Vinyl Miners with two old friends, DJ/producer Architect and emcee 50 Grand, who soon departed for L.A. Architect and Encore continued to collaborate on tracks, which blended the DJ's inspired beats and samples with Encore's intelligent rhymes, often influenced by Islam and ancient African and Egyptian studies. Encore recorded singles for Certified Records and Stones Throw Records before appearing on Dan "The Automator" Nakamura and Prince Paul's Handsome Boy Modeling School album, So... How's Your Girl?. The West Coast rapper's debut album, Self-Preservation, arrived in 2000 on 75 Ark Records. ~ Heather Phares

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Birth Name:

Shaya Bekele

Years Active:

'90s, '00s