Jersey City rapper Randy Nichols, better known as Ransom, was originally born in Brooklyn, NY in September 1980. His father's slaying and mother's serious illness forced Nichols to stay in foster care a few years, but he and his mother eventually relocated to Jersey City when he was about eight years old. A lifestyle of selling drugs, which landed him in and out of jail as a teen, ensued; however, the young rapper wanted out. In 2000, he and his friends put up money to buy a recording studio, which initiated Nichols' rap career under the moniker Ransom. Not long afterwards, he teamed up with fellow rapper Hitchcock to form the A-Team. Known for their Hardhood Classics street albums, the two became staples on the mixtape circuit in New Jersey, but barely dented the scene in neighboring New York. After a deal with Def Jam didn't pan out, the two went their separate ways around 2006. Ransom did not lose much momentum, constantly appearing on DJ Clue mixtapes as well as shelling out his own, including the Best in the City volumes and Ransom Note. In 2007, Ransom received some press over traded lyrical barbs with Joe Budden, also a Jersey City native, who included a verse from Ransom and Hitchcock on his Mood Muzik 3 mix album, claiming a reunion by the defunct A-Team. Later that year, Ransom geared up to release his Street Cinema mixtape, distributed via N.Y. indie Babygrande.