As a teenager, Sacramento hip-hop artist Tais co-opted other people's music to make his own.
"I think I started out just like everybody else - (writing songs) over other people's instrumentals," he says.
"This was back when artists would release a single that had an instrumental (version of the song) on the other side - I wrote my first song to an Outkast tune," he says.
"I don't even remember what song it was - just that it moved me."
Eventually Tais graduated to spoken word before hooking up with some old high school friends to form the local hip-hop group Righteous Movement.
"We're not a band so much as a collective," he says. "We're four MCs and everyone gets to do solo albums and side projects.
Tais's first solo CD, "Truth Arises in Search of Mixtape," is an ode to his ongoing journey - artistically and personally.
The mix, he says, is mature and soulful.
"This is about me being on the outside looking in," he says. "It's about how I've grown as a man."
Tais, now 27, still crafts his songs with a cut-and-paste aesthetic.
"Hip-hop started with people making mixtapes and taking other people's music and making it their own," he says.
But the idea, he says, now goes well beyond his high school days of merely dropping rhymes over someone else's music.
"My angle is this: Let me take this music and reintroduce it to you."
Tais' efforts have already earned him some prominent recognition: URB magazine just named Tais one of its "Next 1000" important hip-hop artists to watch, praising his "authenticity" and "light, breezy" sound.
A big honor, sure, but Tais says he's already found his biggest influence, inspiration and fan in six-year-old son Noah.
"He comes on stage with me and is so into it - he could be my hype man," Tais says.
"And if I stop rhyming, he just keeps on going."
Style: Sweet, melodic hip-hop
Behind the song: Tais kickstarted the song by sampling a track from the Seattle-based hip-hop group the Boom Bap Project.
"It's just a beat that hit me - a kind of rough beat that's slow and really embodies my style."
The song's message is simple.
"It came out of the way people introduce each other at shows, When you perform before an audience for the first time you have to (address) that people are asking 'Who is this guy?'
"A lot of people just know me as Tais from Righteous Movement so this song is a way for me to introduce myself on my own," he says.
"It just breaks it down: This is who I am and this is where I'm going."
On the Web: www.myspace.com/tais
Listen to "Introduction" here: