In 2008, Hanley released his first full-length project, a mixtape titled ScHoolboy Turned Hustla. He then released a second mixtape in 2009, titled Gangsta & Soul. He then followed up with his first independent album, entitled Setbacks, released in January 2011. The project, released under TDE to digital retailers only, reached number 100 on the US Billboard 200 chart. A little over a year later, his second independent album Habits & Contradictions, was also released exclusively to digital retailers. The album received generally favorable reviews and debuted at number 111 on the US Billboard 200.