Today in Hip Hop History: February 22, 1990
When one thinks of Compton and hip hop, automatically a few artists come to mind: N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, YG, Kendrick Lamar…but what about Above the Law? Above the Law is a hip hop group that emerged from Compton, California in 1989 that consisted of Cold 187um, DJ Total K-oss, KMG the Illustrator, Go Mack, and Kokane. 27 years ago today Above the Law debuted their sound on Livin’ Like Hustlers, after signing to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records.
Livin’ Like Hustlers was a fast-paced, funky tribute to West Coast hip hop and, or more specifically, Southern California. Featuring assistance from Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Laylaw in addition to in-house production, the album sounds like a b-sides tape from N.W.A.’s basement. Not to say that in an condescending manner, but Above the Law comes off more as a laid-back-pimp gangsta rap, as opposed to N.W.A.’s overtly aggressive raps.
With Livin’ Like Hustlers, Above the Law can arguably claim fame to popularizing the Southern California “G-Funk” sound over two years before that of Dre’s The Chronic. Although one can trace the origin of G-Funk to Bay Area hip hop in the mid-80’s, Above the Law helped develop the commonly-associated So Cal rap subgenre. Regardless of who did what first, Livin’ Like Hustlers constitutes an era of hip hop that will always hold a spot in the hearts of us hip hop heads.
Additionally, the album succeeded commercially, peaking the U.S. Billboard 200 at #75 and The Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at #14. The Source selected the album as one of the 100 Best Rap Albums Ever. More recently, the album has featured in popular culture in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and the 2009 film Pineapple Express.
Impress your friends by referencing Above the Law at your next social gathering! For all things hip hop keep reading at True Too.