KMG, ??? – 2012

Sad news in rap music, as we learn that Kevin Michael Gulley, a.k.a. “KMG the Illustrator,” of the golden-era Pomona, California rap group Above the Law died over the weekend. Signed to Ruthless Records by N.W.A’s Eazy-E in 1989, Above the Law released eight albums over a 22-year career, including classics like 1990’s Livin’ Like Hustlers and 1992’s Black Mafia Life—which pioneered the smooth-but-menacing “g-funk” sound that Dr. Dre brought to full fruition that same year with The Chronic. (The albums were released within a couple of months of each other, after Dre’s falling out with Eazy and Ruthless, and there is some dispute as to the matter of influence.) If pressed to make a list of my favorite ten rap songs of all-time, “The Last Song,” the A.T.L.-N.W.A posse cut that concludes Livin’ Like Hustlers, would be on it.