For decades, Hip-Hop artists have spoken about the G-Funk musical style and its origins. While not often credited in the mainstream press, Pomona, California’s Above The Law implemented the sound in their catalog, especially on 1993’s Black Mafia Life and 1994’s Uncle Sam’s Curse. The first album reportedly began recording at Ruthless Records, just as artists including Dr. Dre, The D.O.C., and Michel’le were leaving Eazy-E’s label to launch Death Row Records.
Above The Law’s leader, Cold 187um has been assertive about his role as the G-Funk pioneer. He has claimed that samples and production conceptions from Black Mafia Life were used on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. Although The Chronic released first, Black Mafia Life began recording in 1991—while Dre and N.W.A. were in the same circles. The MC/producer also known as Big Hutch has also claimed that he discovered Snoop Dogg. Notably, upon Snoop’s 1992 debut on the Deep Cover Soundtrack and The Chronic, the Long Beach, California MC dissed Eazy-E and helped ignite a beef between Death Row and Ruthless that lasted through Eazy’s death. Years after Dre left Death Row, Above The Law signed—and Hutch was at the helm for the label’s music for a brief stint. Hutch also contributed to Dre’s Compton in 2015.
Earlier this year, Snoop Dogg spoke out about how close he was to signing with Above The Law—adding to the complicated history and affirming some of Big Hutch’s claim. “I was with Above The Law,” he told Big Boy this April. “[They] was about to give me a situation—but they had me waiting on the bench. I was behind Kokane; I was behind another girl named [Mz.] Kilo, and I was waiting behind Above The Law’s next album that they were doing. But Laylaw and [Big] Hutch and the whole crew, Go Mack and the whole nine—they f___ed with me and Warren G; Warren G was they n____a! So Warren G brought me to them, and they was like, ‘Okay, we gon’ f__k with him!’ But, ‘Sit down there and play that Madden while we work in the studio.’” However, while Snoop was waiting his turns, things expedited when Snoop’s 213 band-mate Warren G played his half-brother Dr. Dre some music. Snoop was invited to work with Dre, The D.O.C., and others.
Appearing on Drink Champs this month, Warren G also sets the record straight. Early in his lengthy interview with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, Warren credits Cold 187um and Dr. Dre as the two artists who taught him how to use the Akai MPC 60 sampler. Then, at the 2:26:00 mark, Warren is asked to choose his favorite group between Above The Law and Compton’s Most Wanted.” Warren selects both, and takes a shot of alcohol by doing so—as is the rule of the game. However, the platinum songwriter/producer/DJ offers up more information.
“Actually, I’m gonna tell you a cold story; this gonna f__k everybody up. I was introduced to G-Funk through Above The Law. They were the first ones…they were claimin’ G-Funk, that’s what…” DJ EFN interrupts Warren to say, “Before you.” Warren clarifies, “Look. Check this out. I used to be around, like I said—as a pup—hangin’ around the studio, out in the street, nowhere to go. Laylaw [and] 187 took me in with them. Above The Law—KMG, Go Mack, [DJ] Total K-Oss. They took me in with them. We was moved in with them. They started f__kin’ with me just ’cause they seen I was a young muh’f___a just eager to learn. So I lived with ’em; I didn’t really have no place to stay. So I lived with them, and they was G-Funk. So they made me G-Funk. Like I said, 187 taught me how to work the MPC 60 too, along with what Dre taught me as well.”
However, the same year that ATL released “Black Superman,” Warren G delivered his triple platinum debut, Regulate…G Funk Era and Grammy-nominated title track. The title was a bold one, but one that Warren G defends vehemently. The 213 co-founder acknowledges his strengths. “I carried on G-Funk no matter what.” He says the original moniker referred to ATL’s studio clique. Additionally, Cold 187um hailed from a musical family that included uncle Willie Hutch, and Motown songwriter father Richard Hutchinson. Warren took the concept and built upon on it. While Above The Law never earned the plaques, Warren led a movement that helped resurrect Def Jam Records in the mid-1990s. “So what I did was, I still kept going with the name, movin’ with it. So I took and I made it worldwide to a whole ‘nother genre, where they’re saying it’s a genre of music now. The G-Funk Era is my branch, my part of the G-Funk. But the ni__as who turned me onto G-Funk was Above The Law. I’m lettin’ y’all know that. I’m G-Funk.”
Strangely, Warren G and Above The Law have not collaborated. An old video from an episode of Yo! MTV Raps features N.W.A., Above The Law, and Warren G together with Ed Lover:
This summer, Cold 187um released “NWA ABOVE THE LAW UNTIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF,” with Ice Cube. It is a highlight from his Rockboys Magazine Mixtape, Vol. 1. That project involved Xzibit, Suga Free, Too Short, Kokane, and others. Last year, Hutch and Kokane released two singles as A O G F (The Architects Of G-Funk). In June, Warren G performed at the 2023 BET Awards.