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S Jin

One of the more unique rappers to emerge during the early 2000s, Jin initially made waves because of his Chinese ethnicity, but it was his freestyling ability that eventually earned him street-celebrity status and a record deal with Ruff Ryders. Born Jin Au-Yeung in Miami, FL, the rapper grew up far from the streets of N.Y.C., yet nonetheless reveled in East Coast rap. As an aspiring teenage MC, his initial influences were early- to mid-'90s New York rappers like Jay-Z, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Mobb Deep. It was no surprise, then, when he jumped at the opportunity to relocate from Florida to Manhattan when his family decided to move to Chinatown. He immediately engaged himself in the city's hip-hop scene and battled wherever and whenever opportunities presented themselves. With time he made his way to BET's 106 & Park, where he participated in one of the popular show's Freestyle Fridays competitions and won. His performance on 106 & Park garnered him much acclaim, and he was soon offered a deal to sign with Ruff Ryders, a New York-based label that had established such premier artists as DMX, Eve, and LOX. After signing, he played a minor role in the film 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and saw his first single, "Learning Chinese," become quite an underground success at the turn of the year. In fact, around this time -- 2003/early 2004 -- Jin got quite a bit of media attention, including a flattering profile in The New York Times ("Slim Shady, Watch It: Asian Rapper's Got It"), and he did so without the benefit of an album on the market. Ruff Ryders/Virgin had originally scheduled his album for October 2003 but pushed it back indefinitely. In the meantime, Jin waited patiently in the wings, his moment in the sun quickly fading away as Ruff Ryders (who were undergoing troubles of their own) took their time, to the dismay of fans. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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