Über The Pack
Coming straight outta Berkeley, feisty young skate-headz the Pack add considerable (if not yet fully developed) muscle to the Bay Area's increasing stronghold on hip-hop. Lil B, Young L, Young Stunner and Lil Uno bonded over their love for skating and music long before Lupe Fiasco made that peanut-butter-and-chocolate revelation famous. They began making music together at around age 13, getting the word out (and getting around their problematic youth) by playing college parties and distributing street-level mixtapes. One such tape fell into the hands of local legend Too $hort, who tracked the group down and worked with them to get their debut album recorded and released on Jive Records. Even as "Vans," their stereotype-busting ode to skater kicks, garnered the group national attention and MTV airplay (sans all sneaker references, which MTV edited out), the Pack didn't discard the indie tactics that had served them well in the past: Young L continues to serve as producer and engineer on their recordings, which are made at his mom's house, and the group's MySpace page generated 1.6 million downloads (and counting) before a publicist ever lifted a finger.