Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 44: Above The Law's "Livin' Like Hustlers" (1990)

Well, we have FINALLY made it to the 1990s, yes indeed! I mentioned before that if you thought the 80s sessions were great, you ain't seen nothing yet! So with this being said, let's head right into the debut album from Above The Law (Cold 187um, Go Mack, KMG the Illustrator and DJ Total K-Oss), who signed with Ruthless Records in 1989.


Release date: February 22, 1990



All songs produced by Dr. Dre, Cold 187um and Laylaw


1. "Murder Rap"
Cold 187um

"When I sit down and write and recite for the mic I hold/Make sure my beats are loud and bold and cold"

Those opening lines from Cold 187um sets the tone for this high powered opener, also the album's first single. 
*Grade- A+



2. 'Untouchable"
Cold 187um and K.M.G.

Sample check 1
 
Sample check 2


"It's not what you know, it's what you can prove." Yes indeed. This was a fine piece of West Coast dopeness, an apply titled joint all from a hustler's perspective.
*Grade- A



3. "Livin' Like Hustlers"
Cold 187um and K.M.G.

Sample check
 

Speaking of hustlin, Cold 187um and K.M.G. come with more on the subject for this dope title track. And whoever re-worked Bill Cosby and Quincy Jones' "Hikky-Burr" for this did an awesome job.
*Grade- A



4. "Another Execution"
Cold 187um

Cold 187um comes with some stories here, with the first verse/story seeing him and K-Oss going to see a movie only for the scene to turn into straight chaos, lol, when "a sucka looked 187um up and down at the front door", leading to his "capped gettin peeled", and he tries to hook up with a "freak he hadn't seen in a while" in the second verse/story, only for things to get ruined by the girl's boyfriend (this almost lead to him pulling his gun out, but it didn't happen). Pure fiction to be sure, but it's a decent song.
*Grade- B

5. "Menace To Society"
Cold 187um and K.M.G..

Lyrically these two men give every reason in the world as to why they considered themselves "menaces to society" and it's about as aggressive as you would expect. (It bangs too.)
*Grade- A+



6. "Just Kickin' Lyrics"
Cold 187um

Sample check


Kickin lyrics is all that Cold 187um does on this very good song.
*Grade- B



7. "Ballin"
Cold 187um and K.M.G.

Sample check


This joint right here is hard enough for the fellas and smooth enough for the ladies, West Coast style.
*Grade- B



8. "Freedom Of Speech"
Cold 187um

Sample check


Even during this period, as hip hop continued to grow, it ran into multiple individuals trying to "censor" it, in a country that loudly celebrates freedom of speech. Cold 187um rightly takes everyone to task from not only trying to censor hip hop and its lyrics, but by being hypocritical in the process (you can't have it both ways). Although this song came out in 1990, its message is still relevant today in my view.
*Grade- A+



9. "Flow On (Move Me No Mountain)"
Cold 187um and K.M.G.

Sample check
 

Love Unlimited's "Move Me No Mountain" is nicely sampled for this one, probably the smoothest song on the album.
*Grade- B+



10. "The Last Song"
Featuring N.W.A.

This tight closer, the album's best song, isn't quite on the level of D.O.C.'s "Grand Finale" from the"No One Can Do It Better" album, but it's almost close. All involved come with dope verses, but MC Ren steals the show here. Overall, a great way to close the album and at 6:21, it doesn't overstay it's welcome.
*Grade- A




Above The Law's debut is a very good album and a nice start to the 1990s Hip Hop Nostalgia sessions. Cold 187um and K.M.G. came through with solid, West Coast styled lyrics over equally solid production. Speaking of which, you can listen to this and tell Dre's fingerprints were all over this album, respectively, featuring a crisp, well rounded sound that we'll see much more of in the coming months. 


Final Grade- A

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