Above The Law isn't about being outside the law, its about being superior to it mentally. Above the Law is Hutch aka Cold 187um, KMG and Total K-Oss. Together they paved a road of constructive ideals for their peers by tearing others down. They were focused on turning a negative into a positive. They began as gangsta rappers, telling stories about the lifestyle they knew best on their debut LP, Livin' Like Hustlers. Then came Black Mafia Life, which after a taste of success on their own terms, showed them there could be a better system. Uncle Sam's Curse proved their hoodside brio was about exceeding the limits set by the system. The results were a passionate, funky and strong commitment to rap music and the community that made them.
In 1988, a group of hip-hop dancers from downtown Los Angeles called themselves Tribal Nation. Still in high school, a few of the members, inspired by the East Coast rap movement of A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One and Public Enemy, began writing their own raps in addition to dancing to other people's. They eventually broke off from Tribal Nation to form their own rap crew, A Tribe Beyond A Nation, or the ATBAN Klann. According to group member Will OneX, "A Tribe Beyond A Nation is a state of mind." Simplified the concept is: A Tribe is about staying true to your roots--knowing yourself and Beyond A Nation means to go out and be successful without getting caught up and trapped by it.
Blood of Abraham is Benyad and Mazik, two 21-year-old rappers who share a singular vision of positivity based not on some naive idealism but on mutual regard for all cultures, people and religion. The group's brand of hardcore rap consisted not of gory street stories, but of simple truths communicated from a universal perspective. Their debut album, Future Profits, put a message across without sacrificing their musical integrity.
The Bone thugs-n-harmony saga began in 1993 when Layzie, Krazyie, Flesh, Wish and Bizzy, broke and hungry, but loaded with talent, confidence and the bravado to try anything to achieve success, boarded a bus to Los Angeles. Their destination was the offices of Ruthless Records, home to the legendary rap group NWA. Bone auditioned over the phone but Eazy didn't get back with them. When Bone heard that Eazy-E was doing a show in their hometown, they scraped their money together and hustled back to Cleveland. They auditioned live for Eazy backstage and he signed them on the spot. Within weeks they were in the studio recording their '94 debut EP, Creepin' On Ah Come Up. They turned the hip-hop nation onto a fresh new style of rap and in the process sold over two million copies of Creepin', fueled by their hit single, "Thuggish Ruggish Bone." Bone thugs-n-harmony followed with the '95 release of the five times platinum LP, E. 1999 Eternal which debuted at #1 on top of the pop charts. The group made history when their hit single, "Tha Crossroads," tied a record the Beatles set in 1964 as the fastest rising single on the charts. Bone thugs-n-harmony recently won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Rap Duo or Group and the 1997 Soul Train Music Award for Best Video, "Tha Crossroads."
Kid Frost is not only a trailblazer of Chicano rap but a West Coast hip-hop pioneer. Frost, the son of an ex-gangbanger, established himself through a hard work ethic. Early on, he was signed to rap at Florentine Gardens in Hollywood every Saturday at midnight. His songs made Frost one of the first west coast rappers to make it to wax. In 1994, Frost entered negotiations with Ruthless Records and the result was his debut album, Smile Now, Die Later.
Hoez With Attitude (H.W.A.) offered scintillating rhymes and sexy get-ups. But that's not all. These three striking young ladies - Kim Kenner, Tonja Kenner and Robin Nelson - had more than just sex on their minds. What's most explicit about their rhymes was their intent: creating an atmosphere where men and women could talk frankly and meaningfully about sex, relationships and love.
Although Ruthless Records is synonomous with "rap" music, the label does explore releasing acts within other musical genres. Jimmy Z is a shining example. Jimmy Z teamed up with Dr. Dre to produce funky jazz tracks. "Funky Flute" (the album's most notable track) was a jazzy dance track that featured Dr. Dre. Jimmy Z also played saxophone as he was featured on several of Ruthless' other artists releases.
Everybody knows J.J. Fad. They were one of Eazy-E's biggest successes. And if someone doesn't remember, all you have to say is "Supersonic" and their memories are sure to snap. The boomin' sounds of their chart-topping single was the first release off J.J. Fad's self-titled debut. A platinum best-seller, J.J. Fad became the first female rap group to be nominated for a Grammy award. All told, J.J Fad was one of the most successful dance/party acts of the late 80's.
Kokane was the psychedelic rapper whose hip hop debut, Funk Upon A Rhyme, caused critics to call him a "religious experience." Released in 1994, Kokane's first single, "Slow Burnin' 22.5 Fahrenheit" heated up the charts and transported listeners into a time when lyrics were deep and meaningful
Just scan MC Ren's credentials: 17 years old recruited straight outta Compton, California from high school by Eazy-E to join his trailblazing rap group, NWA. The stern faced rapper became known as the villain in black and also became one of the premiere rappers of the West Coast. Ren's solo career began with a gold industry buzzing EP called Kizz My Black Azz in 1992 followed by his acclaimed 1994 first album, Shock of the Hour featuring "Mayday on the Front Line" from the rap spoof movie, CB4.
Menajahtwa represented the hardcore streets of Compton, but they were not gangsta MC's. The female rap duo made up of Spice and Royal T emerged from the West with their groundbreaking debut, Cha-Licious. With influences like MC Lyte and Ice Cube, Menajahtwa was about serious hip-hop, mic skills and coming correct. No females emerged so cleverly, so bluntly and so in your face.
Michel'le took the music industry by storm when she released her self-titled platinum debut in 1990. Featuring the hit singles "No More Lies" (a platinum seller) and "Nicety," Michel'le became one of the first Ruthless artists to win ASCAP's coveted Pop music award.
Their debut Ruthless Records/Priority release, Paid The Cost, received national attention when their critically acclaimed single, "Explanation of a Playa," was released. The dymamic duo of Playa Hamm and Tweed Cadillac created music with trend-setting lyrics and funky tracks. Their style of rap was unmatched by any other.
Nashville, TN has always been the undisputed capitol of country music. It's hardly the place one would expect to find Pistol, the first rapper from Nashville to make an impact on the music industry. Pistol's rise to the forefront on the Nashville hip-hop scene began on the streets of the Preston-Taylor projects. He honed his rhyme skills by rapping at talent shows, on the playground and around the hood. His album Hittin' Like a Bullet had explosive lyrics that hit hard.
Po' Broke N Lonely was set to be released just prior to Eazy-E's passing. The group would have been Ruthless' first male singing group, primed to join the ranks of Jodeci, Shai and Dru Hill. Their most notable single "Twisted" was released in 1996.
At a time when rap was becoming more serious, the light-heartedness of Steffon was a breath of fresh air. He started out as a dancer for Breeze and the LA Posse. After an appearance on the hip hop show, "Pump It Up," Steffon jokingly asked about giving the producers extra help. This resulted in Steffon co-hosting the show until it ended in 1991. Throughout his career, Steffon had done a lot of work with children which caused a significant effect on the music he would record. His album, Trippin' Wit No Luggage injected positivity into his rap. Most of the songs were laid back, party-oriented west coast funk that included Steffon's humorous side.
The rap duo of Tab N Da Villain was one of Ruthless' acts signed via the joint marketing venture with Relativity Records. Representing the emerging Midwest, the group released its debut project, Do or Die, in the spring of 1995.
Ruthless' version of Teena Marie ("Lady T"), Tairrie B., released her debut album, The Power of a Woman, on Ruthless Records in 1990. She teamed her songwriting talents with producer Quincy D. III to produce the hit single, "Swingin' Wit' T."
The D.O.C. was one of rap's most promising new voices because of his association with NWA and was at the height of his career after penning lyrics and contributing vocals to the group's revoloutionary album, Straight Outta Compton. In 1992, the D.O.C. then released his mind-blowing Dr. Dre-produced album No One Can Do It Better, proving he could more than hold is own on a mircophone. His delivery was sharp and his deep charismatic voice demanded respect.
Ruthless's only psychedelic act, YoMo & Maulkie released their debut project, Are U Xperienced? in 1991. They collaborated with M.C. Yella of NWA to produce such notable tracks as "Watch Out Black Folks," "Are U Experienced?" and "Mama Don't" which features a saxophone solo by labelmate, Jimmy Z.