Few rappers exemplify the vicarious nature of the rap industry more than Crooked I. A Long Beach street rapper whose name pays tribute to the "crooked I" malt liquor beverage St. Ides, Crooked I got his first deal with Virgin's Noo Trybe division in 1995. He appeared on a few compilations and recorded tracks with '90s stars like Luniz and Tray Deee from Tha Eastsidaz, though he didn't release an album. Unsigned by the 2000s but well regarded by his West Coast peers, Crooked I aligned with Death Row Records, which was then being reorganized by its infamous owner Suge Knight. But Knight's considerable legal problems kept the "new" Death Row from getting off the ground and releasing a proper Crooked I album. Worse, Crooked I's lingering association with Knight made industry executives afraid to deal with him. He managed to stay relevant with hot street mixtapes like the Young Boss and Block Obama series. In 2009, he formed the group Slaughterhouse with three fellow fan favorites, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden and Royce da 5'9". Their self-titled debut reached the Top 40 of the album charts, providing some hard-earned vindication and a new chance at legitimate hip-hop stardom.