Although Dr. Dre is known for popularizing the distinctive West Coast sound known as "G-Funk," as a member of Above The Law, Big Hutch, a.k.a. Cold 187 is credited by many as the founding father of the subgenre; and he's looking to revive it with a surprise new album, The Big Hit.
"The new album is all the flavor that comes with everything I've produced for Above The Law, along with everything I've learned along the way," Hutch told BET.com. And he's had plenty of experience from which to learn.
When Above the Law debuted in 1990, they were signed to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records and Hutch worked with Dre to produce their first album, Livin' Like Hustlers, which was later named (in 1998) by The Source as one of the Best 100 Rap Albums Ever. Hutch went on to become the lead in-house producer for Death Row Records in 1999, working with Suge Knight to release such music as the posthumous Tupac album, Unti lthe End of Time. By 2004, however, he was derailed by a drug trafficking bid, and in 2012 Hutch's partner-in-rhyme, KMG The Illustrator passed away from a heart attack.
His album is a sonic throwback to those volatile times in hip hop history, when Gangsta-Funk reigned supreme, like the last time he hung out with Tupac before the superstar's death in 1996, in an incident that involved a run-in with Nas.
"I was actually supposed to meet up with 'Pac in Vegas, but I got caught up finalizing Above The Law's deal with Tommy Boy," Hutch remembered. "The last time we hung out was at the MTV Awards shortly before he passed. Me, him and Snoop were at the buffet. Nas came in. Pac puts his plate down, we all walk over there, Nas extends his hand in peace. Pac pushed his hand and said, 'I'm not cool with you. I just did a record dissin' Biggie and that B***ha** motherf***a Jay Z so f*** you.' Nas couldn't do nothing but walk off, and that's what he did."
Being around Knight at that time was shaky, too, he continued. "We had people scared to death of us. And it wasn't just because Suge was big, it was because we was movin' on they a**."
For example, he said, "I was at the Columbia Bar and Grill when Russell Simmons asked Eazy-E if he could start a record label in L.A. back in 91. He wanted to start Def Jam West and me and Eazy had [just] left the Grammys, and we're in there eating and chilllin' and Russell Simmons came over and said, 'Hey man I'm tryna start a label out here, I just wanna know if I got your blessing.' Eazy laughed at him. He was like, 'Hey it's a free world, hahaha. You might as well. There's a lotta money out here.' Russell said, 'No man I just don't wanna step on your toes I got respect for you.' -- the Godfather [E] had to bless you before you made moves out here."
Now, the "Black Superman" producer is looking to honor the G-Funk legacy and that of KMG with a number of new projects in the coming year, in addition to The Big Hit.
"Next year will be the 25th anniversary of Livin' Like Hustlers, so we're putting out three records," Hutch announced. "The first one is 25 years of Hustlin' as well as a specific dedication to KMG, then after that we'll put out a book with 10 songs that KMG, myself and DJ K-oss did." The Big Hit is available now, released Tuesday (April 1).
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(Photo: Jennifer Erickson/West World Records)