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For nearly a decade, Mastamind existed exclusively as a member of the Detroit acid rap group Natas before releasing his first solo album in 2000, proving that he was more than group leader Esham’s right-hand man. Ten years earlier while attending Osborne High School in Detroit, MI, Mastamind (born Gary Reed) passed a three-song demo tape to fellow student Esham. At the time, Esham had already released a debut full-length, Boomin’ Words From Hell, along with a handful of EPs, making him a substantial superstar amongst his teenaged peers. Esham liked what he heard and decided to form a group with Mastamind and a friend named TNT. Together, the trio decided on the name Natas as a symbol of their disposition at the time and released their first album, Life After Death, on Esham’s Reel Life Productions label in 1992. Subsequent years brought a number of follow-ups. In 1995, Mastamind’s solo debut appeared, a five-song EP titled Lickkuidrano, but it wasn’t until 2000 that his first solo LP appeared, Themindzi. With this release came critical acclaim among the hardcore rap underground, as Murder Dog magazine’s readers voted Mastamind 2000’s “most slept on” rapper while also praising his album. The rapper then went on the road in 2001, touring nationally for the first time and winning legions of new fans in the process.

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