Alexander Spit: “When I came back from The Bay after living with my grandparents, I started attending these weekly emcee battles/open mics called Tourettes Without Regrets in Southern California and Oakland. I was treating it like it was a big deal. I would go ham on these verses—screaming. I didn’t have much style but folks could tell I had passion.

“Along the lines of me showing up to these open mics, I eventually met these two other emcees named Cambo and Cheshire. During the weekly battles, we were the only three winning. The three of us had completely different styles and eventually everyone told us we needed a track together.

“So we did a track together and the song was called ‘I’d Rather Be A Rapper Than Have World Peace.’ People [liked the song] and were like, ‘Ya should make more songs together.’ We ended up making four songs. The same people that threw that open mic were like, ‘We want to book you guys for a show, what’s your name?’

“Again, my homie Kelsey Rivera was like, ‘Ya’ll should be The Instant Messengers.’ We all started laughing. Then we got a phone call a minute later like, ‘We really need to make this flyer, what’s your group’s name?’ We were like, ‘The Instant Messengers.’ We stuck with that name and we started making music.

“We started doing a lot of shows and getting local buzz in the San Francisco and the Bay. At first it would be 20 kids showing up to shows, then it would be 50 kids, then a 100 kids. Then it would be we started selling out venues like the Rickshaw Stop where it’d be 500 kids.

“One night, I went to a show at the Fillmore for the Living Legends and I seen this kid Brick Stowell who I went to highschool with. I was like, ‘Hey what are you doing here?’ He was like, ‘I work for the Living Legends, I’m their assistant.’ For me at that day and age and at the time he might as well have said he was an A&R for Interscope.

“At that time, I was pretty much a backpack rapper. I gave Brick my CD and the Instant Messengers and I’m like, ‘Play that for them.’ He listened to them and two weeks later he’s like, ‘I want to manage you guys’ and then about a month later he introduced us to the Grouch of the Living Legends. A month later we were doing a show in Oakland called The Brokeass Summer Jam which is an annual independent hip-hop show in Oakland.

“Grouch eventually was like, ‘I want to put your next album out.’ That led to us recording an album [called Slammers] on Grouch’s label, Simple Man Records. We didn’t know how to put out a commercial album in the sense of actually trying to sell units so it flopped. But It was a very cool thing for the San Francisco area and our peers.

“That spawned the beginning of the end for The Instant Messengers. We had our creative differences. I wanted to keep it on some hardcore hip-hop but they wanted to do something more that would get people dancing, some party shit. By the time I was 21 we decided it was time to break the group up. Once the Instant Messengers broke up that’s when I really started to really fully dive into my solo career.”