Cold 187um Claims He Created G-Funk & Got Snoop Signed To Death Row (Video)
Last week, Above The Law’s Cold 187um released his single “Legacy” featuring Ice Cube and The D.O.C. Premiering at Ambrosia For Heads, the track marked a full-circle reunion with the Pomona, California production and rapping icon with two of his former Ruthless Records label mates. Having just released his The Black Godfather double-album (which includes “Legacy”) and corresponding film, 187um appeared with N.W.A. affiliate Laylaw (who co-produced the aforementioned track) on Sway In The Morning today.
Early in the interview, Cold 187um (a/k/a Big Hutch) asserts his claim that he pioneered what is known as “G-Funk.” Mentored by Dr. Dre, and a mentor himself to Warren G, Cold 187um says that his late Above The Law band-mate K.M.G. coined the term around the group’s breakthrough.
Laylaw says the term came to be “by accident” in 1990. “K.M.G. was riding to the studio with me; he was rapping a verse that he had just wrote. Hutch had sent him home with some homework.” K.M.G., a co-founder in the group with 187, Go Mack, and DJ Total K-Oss, died in 2012. The lyric was “A P-Funk tape wakes me up every morning.” Laylaw continues, “For whatever reason, I said, ‘Say “G-Funk. We didn’t know we naming nothing. He just put it in a rhyme, and we kept referring back to it. Then we realized it is G-Funk.”
Tupac Shakur’s feature verse on “Call It What You Want” a couple years later on Black Mafia Life popularized the term. Cold 187um says the discussion began in the studio. “He was like, ‘What’s y’all music called?’ [We said], ‘We just call it “G-Funk.”‘” He credits Shakur with blowing the term out of the water at a time before Warren G had released an album, DJ Quik made Safe + Sound, and as The Chronic was newly in the air. “He’s the first that really coined it G-Funk on a record; we wasn’t. The thing is, when I created G-Funk, it was to be different than N.W.A. When Above The Law first came to Ruthless, we kinda had a niche, but we didn’t really have something that separated us from [them]. In that era, we mirrored N.W.A. So I said, ‘Well, we need a type of sound that changes this.’ So what I started doing as a producer, I started putting more melody into hardcore Hip-Hop. ‘Cause at the time, it was a boom and a bap and a rap. I didn’t want to lose the ‘Rap’ part; I didn’t want to lose the Hip-Hop essence of it. But I started putting melody into it and I slowed it down a bit—siren sounds, crazy keyboards, stuff like that. That’s how it kinda evolved into being the G-Funk sound.” 187 states, “Tupac is the first one that coined it on a record [that reached the] global scale.” Last month, Atlanta, Georgia’s Jermaine Dupri contended that he predated The Chronic is injecting melodic Funk into Hip-Hop.
Although Above The Law’s second album arrived years after, it began in 1991. “We cut Black Mafia Life at the same time [N.W.A. and I] cut Niggaz4life. So it’s the same thing. Now, when the cliques broke, it was a lot of influence. A lot of people don’t know, I’m Dr. Dre’s understudy [or] protege.”
Hutch, who would later be the Vice President of Death Row in the 2000s, expounds on his curious relationship with Dre. “The thing about The Chronic is, when we did Black Mafia Life, The Chronic wasn’t even invented.” Last year, Cold 187um appeared on Dr. Dre’s Compton album, despite an ongoing legal battle between the two musicians surrounding royalties tied to Eve music. While the friends can get legal, they’ve never had war. “Me and Dre, we’re tight. So [Laylaw and I were never involved in the Ruthless vs. Death Row, or Death Row vs. Aftermath beefs]. Here’s the kicker of all of that: Snoop [Dogg] and Warren [G] and all of them come from under [Above The Law]. So now there’s even more family tearing apart [during Dr. Dre’s falling out with Eazy-E]. So when they went over there and did [‘Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang’], okay, you guys got the little homies dissin’ [Eazy-E and] we in the middle. So we either gotta stay out or get in it, so that’s how it ended up playin’ out for us. That’s why we stayed cool through [all the beef] the whole time.”
Laylaw reveals how it was a Cold 187um-produced demo song called “Day In The Life” that got Snoop Dogg signed to Death Row. “They left from our studio with that song, went to Dre’s house—Dre was having a bachelor party for L.A. Dre. The music stopped for a second; Warren threw the tape in [and] played that song. L.A. Dre told [Dr.] Dre to come listen to it. That’s when he called him and signed Snoop [to Death Row].”
Cold 187um adds, “Dre had an apartment right by my studio. Dre came to my studio, and sat there with his hands folded. He said, ‘Hey man, I heard that kid Snoop. What y’all trying to do with him? He’s kinda hot. I want to do something with him.’ I said, ‘Do you.’ He said, ‘Aw man, I don’t want to step on nobody’s toes.’ […] When ‘Deep Cover’ comes out, we are all cool with each other. Listen to ‘Deep Cover’: ‘And ya don’t stop, ’cause it’s 1-8-7 on an undercover cop.‘ That’s supposed to be me sayin’ that. But when the cliques split, they went and did them, we stayed and did us.” While Above The Law signed to Death Row in the late ’90s, following Eazy’s death and a tenure at Tommy Boy Records, they were supposed to be there in 1992. “The original roster at Death Row is Above The Law, [The] D.O.C., Dr. Dre, and then Snoop and Warren G and them come up under us. That’s the defection of Ruthless Records. They didn’t put that in [Straight Outta Compton].”
Elsewhere in the interview, Cold 187um describes mentoring Crooked I (n/k/a Kxng Crook) at Death Row. Laylaw reveals producing the “California Love (Remix)” that is often credited to Dre, and how a lawsuit led to his longtime post as an Aftermath A&R.