Above the Law is a rap group from Pomona, California, founded in 1989 by Cold 187um, KMG the Illustrator, Go Mack, and DJ Total K-Oss.
In 1989, the group signed to the late Eazy-E's Ruthless Records. There they 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.
The group's second full length album Black Mafia Life came out in 1992. 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 apart 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.
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 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 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.