I Self Devine
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Born in 1972 in Los Angeles, California, I Self Devine exists as a testament of survival. Raised in the brutal streets during the gang and government funded crack epidemic, he strived for understanding and deeper meaning to life's movement. His father, once a member of the Solidad Brothers, taught and exposed him to the underbelly of society. In 1980, when I Self was only eight years old, his dad left him and his mother on Christmas day.Read More...
During I Self's childhood, he frequently moved around the Los Angeles area living in Compton, Watts and South Central. Growing up in Los Angeles provided a wide range of exposure to different art forms and all walks of life. Through much of his youth, his mother had him bused out for school to obtain a better education. The journeys to the outer school systems gave I Self his first examples of racism and in his resistance forced him to be expelled and change school districts.
I Self's mother, a culturally aware artist and social worker, continued to teach him about Africa and the importance of knowing yourself and history. Being that his mother was radically progressive, she thought nothing of taking the young I Self Devine to go see Wild Style in 1982. This experience further cultivated the seed she planted three years previous when she purchased him the Rapper's Delight twelve-inch for this seventh birthday. Wild Style caused a metamorphosis in the already rebellious I Self introducing him to a new phenomenon-Hip Hop.
Initially, there was a continuous struggle for I Self between gang involvement and Hip Hop. With his constant need to travel the LA area between moving and busing to school, gangs became more problematic and coerced I Self to living an involuntarily isolated life. After a falling out with gang activity, he began writing graffiti, which eventually saved his life from the downward spiral of gang life and allowed him to travel more freely. I Self would test his writing and graffiti skills while rhyming in the confines of his home until 1985 when he was then ready to proclaim himself, "I AM" and emerge on the scene. I Self was only thirteen years old.
Content with just freestylin' on the corner, a few neighbors noticed his skills and told him about the club I Fresh in Lemeirt Park (which was a precursor to Good Life and Project Blowed). At I Fresh, under the tutelage of Ben Caldwell, I Self (then known as C-Doom) learned the skills of delivery and voice projection. In 1987, I Self was featured with a cameo battle role in a movie about I Fresh. Unfortunately, the film was never released to the public.
In late 1987, I Self spent a year in jail. Once released, times were conflicted and he became more deeply immersed in the streets and vandalism. Tired of the strict guidelines at home, he ran away. In 1989, with I Self's life constantly being in jeopardy and his mother's desire to pursue higher education, she relocated them to Minneapolis, MN. With ten years of experience balancing the arts of freestylin' and graffiti, I Self adapted well into the already existing Hip-Hop scene of the Twin Cities.
In Minneapolis, after three years of many failed attempts at group projects, I Self Devine along with Truth Maze and Kool Akiem formed the Micranots. Spawned from the dissolved groups, Metro Unit and Mixed Breed, Micranots were born while I Self spent time in jail for a second time during 1991-1992. Micranots were established on the cultural relevance of artists like Public Enemy, KRS-ONE, and X-CLAN, while possessing the street edge of: Ice-Cube, NWA, Scarface and The Geto Boys.
For the next two years, Micranots terrorized Minneapolis with energetic stage presence while recording two full-length cassettes: Hoods Pack The Jam and Catacomb Files. After establishing themselves locally and building a following through performances and self-distributed recordings, Micranots were in search of a way to expand their career. In 1994, Micranots departed Minneapolis for Atlanta fearing they were close to hitting the glass ceiling that caused many other talented groups to self-destruct.
In Atlanta, internal conflicts caused the Micranots to downsize to just I Self and Kool Akiem. It was during this time, while I Self was attending Atlanta College of Art, that he contemplated quitting music altogether. Kool Akiem provided the necessary push to help I Self to get back on the grind. The result produced three recordings: So Deep I Never Fell (1994), One Hour of Ill Shit (a collection of freestyles-1995) and Return Of The Travellahs (1996).
It was at an Atlanta Lyricist Lounge show at Kaya's in 1996, when Micarnots performed with Company Flow and Refection Eternal, that a copy of Return Of The Travellahs ended up in the hands of Big Juss. This performance initiated Micranots to be signed to up and coming New York based label, 3-2-1 Records (Blackalicious, Big Jus of Company Flow, Scienz of Life, Rubberoom, Ced Gee of Ultramagnetic MCs). Unfortunately, half way into the recording of their new album, the label folded.
The brief regression forced Micranots to create their own label, Mental Madness Wreckords, and release the now classic twelve-inch featuring: 141 Million Miles, All Live and Farward. During the downtime and uncertainty of the next Micranots album, I Self would return briefly to Minneapolis to be featured on the Rhymesayers Headshot series cassettes: History and Effort and become part of a legendary side project. In March of 1998, I Self, Slug of Atmosphere, Beyond (Musab) and Gene Poole formed The Dynospectrum. The Dynospectrum would be the first album I Self would record for Rhymesayers.
In 1999, Big Jus of Company Flow co-formed Subverse Records to pick-up the 3-2-1 roster, with the new additions of MF Doom and Source of Labor, and release the Micranots critically acclaimed international debut The Obelisk Movement. The Micranots toured, gained substantial press coverage and reached exceptional sales by independent standards. Unfortunately, before their next album could be completed, Subverse Records faced internal business problems and were forced to close their doors. Once again, I Self was close to success, but confronted with another obstacle.
After the rise and fall of The Obelisk Movement, I Self moved back to Minneapolis in 2000 and began production on his second album with Rhymesayers, a collaborative with DJ Abilities titled The Anti-Album. The two formed the group Semi.Official and released the album in 2003 featuring the critically acclaimed single, Crime and Songs In The Key of Tryfe featuring MF Doom.
In the same year, I Self reunited with Kool Akiem in Minneapolis to record a new Micranots record. With no label, the duo looked to long time allies Rhymesayers to help release the album. In 2003, the lead single Glorious was released. Shortly, there after in February 2004, with limited distribution The Emperor and The Assassin hit some record shelves.
After touring with Atmosphere for three months on the Seven's Travels Tour, Micranots disbanded after thirteen years. Today marks the dawning of a new day, the closing of one chapter and the emerging of a new era. I Self Devine of the underground-favorite Micranots steps outside of the broad movement of politics, religion, and injustice to tell the personal stories of those involved in the movement.
Self Destruction is the aptly named title for I Self's new album and first solo effort. The name has nothing to do with the movement KRS-ONE introduced in 1988, but rather with I Self's personality and his journeys with Micranots.
The difference between Self Destruction and previous Micranots albums is that I Self takes the time and effort to connect to the masses instead of a select few scholars who already knew the deal. How he accomplished this was years of switching his approach, lyrically without damaging his integrity. In the majority of his releases, I Self never allowed the listener the opportunity to know him, feel his personality, his humor, his pain and accomplishments- the personal struggles and personal victories and losses of I Self Devine.
Through ten months of intense soul searching and the production skills of ANT (Atmosphere, FELT, and Brother Ali), Vitamin D (De La Soul and Gift of Gab), Jake One (G-Unit, Ghostface and Busta Rhymes) and Bean One (Black Sheep, Charlie 2na, Boom Bap Project), I Self Devine delivers his most personal and engaging journey to date.
What you have is the result of 16 years of blood, sweat, and tears.