Psalm One is a Chicago-based hip hop artist described as a cross between Lauryn Hill and Devin the Dude. Psalm One was born Cristalle Bowen in Englewood, where as a child she attended Church, singing in the choir and playing guitar, piano, organ, and drums. In junior high she began gravitating to hip-hop acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, and Fu-Schnickens. During her junior year in High School, she began attending neighborhood rap battles. Influenced by the Battle Rap Scene, Psalm One began to take part in battles, many time as the sole female. Her most notable battle was the Historical Final Scribble Jam. Her passion for hip-hop was rivaled only by her interest in chemistry. In 1998 she entered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a chemistry major and creative-writing minor. She also began rapping at showcases sponsored by the black student union, where she developed her skills. She recorded her debut, 2001 EP Whippersnapper as a junior attending the University of Illinois. Released in 2001, the disc caught the ear of Pugslee Atomz, leader of the south-side hip-hop collective Nacrobats and cohost of WHPK's CTA Radio show. Atomz placed the Nacrobats' "Simply Beautiful," which showcased her, on Network of Stars, a 2001 Chicago hip-hop compilation he produced. Shortly before graduation, she released Bio: Chemistry, her first LP, in 2002., then returned to the Chicago area to work at Chemist, where she tested and reported on nutritional values for food manufacturers. In the meantime she released another EP, Personal Surplus, on Birthwrite, and she opened for 50 Cent at E2 in February 2003, a week before the club's stampede disaster. In 2004, Psalm issued Bio:Chemistry II: Esters and Essays on Birthwrite and performed on the Warped Tour.