To introduce themselves to the world, the members of Los Angeles-based Strong Arm Steady
, Phil the Agony
, and Mitchy Slick
-- didn't stick to the usual technique of releasing an album. Instead, in 2004 they issued a DVD of clips from performances, recording sessions, and the band hanging out, although thanks to their mixtapes, they were already known in the L.A. area. In 2005 their debut, Arms & Hammers, was set to be released on Xzibit
's Columbia imprint, Open Bar, but when that fell through, Strong Arm Steady
-- minus Xzibit
, who declined to give his reasons for leaving the group -- signed to Talib Kweli
's newly formed Blacksmith Music. After a handful of singles on the label, the group would sign with underground imprint Stones Throw and hook up with in-house producer Madlib for the well-received In Search of Stoney Jackson. Their 2011 release, Arms & Hammers, was a more traditional hip-hop album with various producers and names like Too Short and the Game on the guest list. Flipping the script yet again, Stereotype from 2012 was considered a sequel to Stoney Jackson, with East Coast producer Statik Selektah taking the place of Madlib and producing the album in total.