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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 187um, aka Big Hutch (born Gregory Hutchinson), was joined by KMG the Illustrator (born Kevin Dulley), 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 its 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. Released in 1998, 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. The album would finally arrived in 2009 as a digital download, on the Beatology label, and under the title Sex, Money & Music. In July of 2012 it was announced that KMG had passed away, although there was no mention of his cause of death. ~ Steve Huey
1989 in Los Angeles, CA
'80s, '90s, '00s, '10s