Above the Law (group)
|Above the Law|
|Also known as||A.T.L.|
|Origin||Pomona, California, U.S.|
Tommy Boy/Warner Bros.
|Associated acts||Eazy-E, Kokane, MC Ren, N.W.A, 2Pac, DJ King Assassin, Dr Dre|
DJ Total K-Oss
|Past members||KMG the Illustrator (deceased)
In 1989, the group signed with Eazy-E's Ruthless Records. While there, it became close associates of the pioneering gangsta rap group N.W.A. Their first album on Ruthless, 1990's Livin' Like Hustlers, featured guest appearances from N.W.A. members and some production from Dr. Dre. Above the Law member Cold187um worked closely with Dre on production and the two had great influence on each other. The songs "Untouchable" and "Murder Rap" became minor hits from the album. "Murder Rap" appeared in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the West Coast fictional radio station, Radio Los Santos as well as the 2008 film Pineapple Express. The song "Freedom of Speech" appeared in the 1990 movie Pump Up the Volume and was also featured on the movie soundtrack album. In September 1990, members of hip hop act Above the Law clashed with Ice Cube and his posse Da Lench Mob during the annual New Music Seminar conference.
The group's First full length album Livin' Like Hustlers came out in 1990. This album, released before Dr. Dre's The Chronic, featured a similar G-Funk sound to that album. Cold187um has claimed that he was the first to pioneer the G-Funk style and Dr. Dre's new sound was largely inspired by his own sound on that album. Dre by this point had left Ruthless Records for Death Row Records. Two years later in 1994 the group released Uncle Sam's Curse, which was their last album on Ruthless Records. It contained the minor hit "Black Superman".
Shortly after Eazy-E's death, the group signed to Tommy Boy Records in 1996. There they released Time Will Reveal in 1996 and Legends In 1999, the group signed to Suge Knight's Death Row Records but left in 2002. The group was a part of the West Coast Rap All-Stars, contributing to "We're All in the Same Gang", a 1990 collaboration of West Coast hip-hop artists that assembled for this song to promote an anti-violence message.
On the morning of July 7, 2012, it was confirmed by multiple sources that emcee KMG the Illustrator had died. Longtime Above the Law affiliate Kokane confirmed the passing of the rapper on his Twitter account on the same day. The cause of his death is unknown at this time. He was 43 years old.
Four of the group's most popular/viral music videos, "Black Superman", "Call it What U Want" feat. Tupac, "V.S.O.P.", and the long form music video, "V.S.O.P. REMIX" were written and directed by Marty Thomas, who was Eazy-E's longtime Ruthless Records film director. Thomas also wrote and directed the controversial and eventually banned "Uncle Sam's Curse" Album television commercials which featured disturbing images of the KKK chasing ATL past a church with burning torches and a white "Uncle Sam" pulling a newborn African-American baby from his Mother's arms. The commercial won several prestigious worldwide awards.
According to Kokane, a new Above the Law album was recorded before the death of KMG. However, no release date has been set.
Above the Law claim to have invented the "G-funk" sound, which was made popular by Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Dre was involved in producing two tracks on Above the Law's debut album. Part of the post-N.W.A. explosion of California gangsta rap, Above the Law came out of the Eastern Los Angeles suburb of Pomona; leader Cold 187 um, aka Big Hutch (born Gregory Hutchinson), was joined by KMG the Illustrator (born Kevin Gulley), Go Mack (born Arthur Goodman), and DJ Total K-Oss (born Anthony Stewart). Mixing '70s vintage-funk and soul samples with live instrumentation (Hutchinson had studied jazz while in school), the group signed with Eazy-E's Ruthless Records and issued their debut album, Livin' Like Hustlers, in 1990; split into violence- and sex-themed sides, it was co-produced by Dr. Dre (prior to N.W.A.'s rancorous breakup) and received well in gangsta circles. The Vocally Pimpin' EP appeared in 1991, and the full-length follow-up Black Mafia Life was released in 1993. Go Mack left the group shortly thereafter, and Above the Law stuck with the trio format for their last Ruthless album, 1994's Uncle Sam's Curse, which featured greater contributions from KMG.
Following Eazy-E's tragically sudden death, Above the Law left Ruthless for Tommy Boy, debuting in 1996 with Time Will Reveal; although the lyrics stuck with the group's well-worn gangsta themes, it demonstrated that Big Hutch's skills as a G-funk producer were becoming ever more polished. 1998's Legends kept the West Coast gangsta flame burning, but proved to be their last release on Tommy Boy; they formed their own label, West World, and struck a distribution deal with Street Solid for 1999's Forever: Rich Thugs. The same year, Big Hutch released his solo debut, Executive Decisions. In 2000, Big Hutch was recruited by Suge Knight to become the new house producer and musical director at Death Row Records, making it the new home of Above the Law as well. They recorded a new album called Diary of a Drug Dealer, but the release dates were continually pushed back while Big Hutch worked on production assignments, including the debut album by Crooked I; amid all the album delays, rumors began to circulate about the group's breakup. Members Cold 187 um and DJ Total K-Oss have recently developed and signed a new rap group named "Mutiny" which consists of three individuals from their own hometown of Pomona, CA. It is speculated that they are related to DJ Total K-Oss of Above the Law. A.T.L is slated to release a mixtape of the group "Mutiny" in late January 2013. Neither members Cold 187 um or K-Oss have made statements concerning the group "Mutiny" album release.
|Livin' Like Hustlers|
|Black Mafia Life|
|Uncle Sam's Curse|
|Time Will Reveal|
|Forever: Rich Thugs, Book One
|Sex, Money & Music
- GTA: San Andreas soundtrack. Accessed December 23, 2007
- "KMG the Illustrator: RIP to The Above the Law Rapper". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- The website Family Tree Legends lists KMG (Kevin M Gulley) born on March 21, 1969. This database is from the California Birth Index, 1905-1995, Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Los Angeles, California (see also Ancestry.com). (FamilyTreeLegends.com retrieved and verified on July 13, 2012).
- "KMG the Illustrator: RIP to The Above the Law Rapper". blogs.laweekly.com. 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
- "Above the Law album charts". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-11-01.