(born Eddie Castellanos
) burst on the rap scene seemingly out of nowhere when he dropped, in the summer of 1992, the infectious Pete Rock
-produced single "Let It All Hang Out," an unexpected Top Ten Billboard hit and instant classic. In fact, the rapper did not emerge out of an artistic vacuum, nor was the Pete Rock
connection a fortuitous one. Castellanos
was born in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan to a professional musician father who would often take his young son along with him during late or all-night jam and recording sessions around New York City. When he was six, his family moved to Mt. Vernon, NY -- later known to hip-hop aficionados as "money-earnin' Mt. Vernon" -- where Castellanos
grew up alongside some of rap and R&B's most gifted burgeoning talents. In high school, he rubbed shoulders with, among others, classmates Sean "Puffy" Combs
, Heavy D
, Al B. Sure
, and, of course, Pete Rock
, and began to earn a reputation around the neighborhood as an MC. Demo recordings of the newly christened A.D.O.R.
(short for, variously, "Another Dimension of Rhythm" or "A Declaration of Revolution") eventually made their way to Uptown Records, and Combs
became one of Castellanos
' early supporters, personally shopping his music around the industry. Soon thereafter, DJ Eddie F
of Heavy D & the Boyz
signed him to a production and management deal with Untouchables Entertainment, and he found himself in the studio recording "Let It All Hang Out" for Atlantic Records.
A well-received live performance on Fox's popular sketch-comedy show In Living Color and a second single, the underground hit "One for the Trouble" (produced by Marley Marl and Kevin "K-Def" Hanson, and later the vocal hook for Fatboy Slim's "Old Skool Mix" of Wildchild's 1995 club anthem "Renegade Master"), soon followed, as did live performances supporting Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. A.D.O.R. was supposed to back up those successes with the completed full-length The Concrete; unfortunately, adversity soon struck. His production and management deals collapsed, and Atlantic decided to shelve the record. Castellanos rebounded by forming Tru Reign Records and inaugurated his new label with another Rock-produced single, "Enter the Center," in 1996. It sold remarkably well for an indie record and earned strong radio support, leading to the release of his official debut album, Shock Frequency, in 1998. The next year, Tru Reign signed a national deal with Nile Rodgers' Sumthing Distribution, which put out the second A.D.O.R. album, Animal 2000. In 2003, a pair of additional albums arrived, the compilation of hits and exclusive tracks, Classic Bangerz, Vol. 1, and an all-new studio album, Signature of the Ill. ~ Stanton Swihart, Rovi