Kwest 'Tha Madd Ladd, a pure freestyler from Queens who was inspired as a youth by hometown heroes LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C., began writing rhymes while in junior high. He graduated from high school at the top of his class and entered New York State University at Syracuse. After he met Don Charnas in 1992, the two began working together on several demos. Kwest left school to work on music full-time, and his first single, "Lubrication," did well on rap radio. He then signed to American Recordings, which released This Is My First Album in August 1996.