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Raised in the Walt Whitman housing project in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Dane first displayed his talents as a member of a rap group, Kongol Crew, which he formed with High School of Music and Arts classmate Slick Rick. Launching his solo career after graduating from high school, Dane signed with the Profile record label in 1985. While his debut single, "Nightmare", offered hints of his talents, Dane broke through commercially with his first full-length album, Dana Dane With Fame, in 1987. The success of the album, which achieved gold record status, was matched by subsequent albums Dana Dane 4 Ever in 1990 and Rollin' Wit Dane in 1995.