Rapper Black Rob has seen the heights of fame as one of the key artists signed to Bad Boy Records in the early '00s, but nearly a decade later, he's ready to go indie. The Harlemite has officially inked a solo deal with independent powerhouse Duck Down Music, which currently houses an eclectic roster of hip-hop artists including Sean Price, Kidz in the Hall, Skyzoo, KRS-One and more.

"[I] always respected their movement and also been a fan of their music," says Rob in a statement regarding his signing with the skein. "If I'm going independent why not go with a team I respect, and they have always had a true family setting & environment."

Black Rob -- real name is Robert Ross -- will release 'Game Tested & Street Approved,' his first album in five years, in 2011.

Rob calls the album a "testimony of what I stand for and how I feel," after having only returned to the studio seven months ago after a lengthy hiatus. "The people have been asking for true hip-hop music, and that's what I'm giving them. I stayed away from features. I've been away for 4 joints, so I feel the people deserve to hear me." Buckwild, Self Service, Bishop, Scram Jones and Pete Rock are among its producers.

The 34-year-old spent much of the new millennium behind bars, serving four of a seven-year grand larceny charge from 2006 to 2010. But that only made his hunger to produce new music even greater. "When I came home, I went right to work, and didn't have time to reach out to cats. On my next project you will get that."

The gravel-voiced emcee first appeared on Bad Boy singles as far back as '96, releasing his debut album 'Life Story' in 2000. The LP spawned the hit 'Whoa!' but it wasn't until 2005 that he would follow up with 'The Black Rob Report.'

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