Biography: Clueso was the first rap star to emerge from central Germany, disproving the theory that the nation's western region is the sole breeding ground for successful hip-hop MCs and DJs. Born Thomas Hübner in Erfurt on April 9, 1980, he originally studied to become a hairdresser but at 15 abandoned hair for hip-hop, making his recorded debut that same year on the compilation Erfurt Projekt 1996. Drawing his alias from Peter Sellers' famed The Pink Panther character Inspector Clouseau, he signed with manager Andreas Welskop in 1998 and soon after issued the first Clueso solo release, the BMG-issued "Clüsolo." Upon signing to the Four Music imprint, Clueso issued his first full-length release, Text und Ton, in 2001. A brief relocation to the Köln area followed, although he returned to Erfurt to begin work on his sophomore effort, 2004's Gute Musik, which featured a shift away from rap toward more conventional vocals and reggae-inspired rhythms. A year later Clueso represented his native Thuringia region in the annual Bundesvision Song Contest with the track "Kein Bock zu Geh'n." His third LP, Weit Weg, hit retail a year later.