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One-half of the hip-hop group Micranots, I Self Devine spent most of his childhood in various neighborhoods in Los Angeles. His mother, an artist and social worker, gave her son a copy of "Rapper's Delight" for his seventh birthday, and he soon found solace in rhyme. At 13 he began freestyling, and in 1989, after he and his mother had moved to Minneapolis, I Self began trying to start his own band. Eventually, the Micranots were formed with Truth Maze and Kool Akiem , and soon they had put out a few albums on cassette. In 1994 the group, sans Truth Maze, moved to Atlanta, where they released more albums, eventually getting signed to New York's 3-2-1 Records.
Unfortunately, halfway through the recording process the label folded, but the Micranots still managed to release a 12" on their own label, Mental Madness. In 1998 I Self moved back to Minneapolis, where he joined Dynospectrum, a group made of Rhymesayers artists Slug, Musab, and Swift the 90°. In 1999 Subverse Records released the Micranots' previously shelved Obelisk Movements, but when that label also folded, I Self formed Semi Official with DJ Abilities, and released The Anti-Album in 2003. The next year Rhymesayers issued a limited amount of the final Micranots album, The Emperor and the Assassin, and soon after the band split up. I Self then decided to release a solo record, 2005's Self Destruction, which moved away from the political messages of the Micranots, instead taking a more personal look into the rapper's life.