J. Stalin is a rapper from West Oakland, CA who is known for a particular style of hyphy referred to as "Go." Born Jovan Smith, Stalin began recording and selling his music at the age of 13. Despite his young age, his tough attitude, developed through his upbringing in a high-crime neighborhood, overshadowed his boyish appearance. J. Stalin's first taste of exposure came when local recording studio owner DJ Daryl used one of his tracks on a recording. Rapper Richie Rich heard the mix and was so impressed that he put J. Stalin on three tracks of his album Nixon Pryor Roundtree, released in 2002. His sudden breakthrough into the hip-hop underground came with an already growing fan base as he went on to perform and record with other Bay Area artists such as Keak Da Sneak, further popularizing and energizing the hyphy movement. By 2011, Stalin had released ten mixed tapes and ten studio albums starting with his 2006 debut, On Behalf of the Streets. J. Stalin is also the front man of the Livewire Da Gang, a group of several Oakland-based artists, as well as the owner of Livewire Records.