Today on the Flashback we wish legendary Hip Hop DJ/producer/artist and founder of Cold Chillin’ Records, Marlon Williams, aka Marley Marl a happy 50th birthday. Hailing from Queens, NY Marley Marl was an instrumental player in building this thing we call Hip Hop.
Normally I use multiple sources as well as my own knowledge base to put my own unique twist on these posts but today I’m going to defer to one of my go-to sources, the legendary Chuck D because simply put he covered it all. My personal feeling is that Marley Marl is one of the more under-appreciated figures in Hip Hop history. As such, given how thoroughly Chuck D and his staff built this write-up, I feel as though it’s important to share it in its (near) entirety for both my older readers to reminisce on Marley’s greatness but more importantly for my younger readers to learn something substantive about his influence and legacy on Hip Hop.
Big ups to Chuck D and the good folks at rapstation.com for a phenomenal post and major salutes to Marley Marl on his 50th birthday. I need all my Old School peeps to stand up for this one!
“Marl was first introduced to the hip-hop world in 1983 co-hosting “The Rap Attack” on New York’s WBLS 107.5FM, alongside the late Mr. Magic. Marl would later host other radio shows on Hot 97 and Power 105.1, also both in New York City respectively. One of those radio programs was called “Private Radio” which he co-hosted with Pete Rock and K-Def. Marl, however, would achieve his biggest fame as one of the most influential hip-hop producers of all time.
Marl began his career in music production in the early 1980’s as an in-house producer at one of the earliest independent New York City hip-hop labels called Tuff City. The first record Marl would produce would be in 1983 with “Sucker DJ’s” by his then girlfriend Crystal Smith, who used the stage name Dimples D. Marl’s next big record would be in 1984 with “Roxanne’s Revenge” by Roxanne Shante, an answer record to UTFO’s classic smash hit “Roxanne, Roxanne”, thus sparking the famous “Roxanne Wars”, which produced several answer records by various artists. During this time Marl also put out records of his own under the moniker NYC Cutter.
Soon after, Marl founded Cold Chillin’ Records, which for the next few years released classic singles and albums by Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Craig G, Roxanne Shante and his cousin MC Shan, whose classic cult hit “The Bridge”, sparked the famous musical war with the South Bronx’s Boogie Down Productions crew. These artists made up The Juice Crew and released the classic 1988 posse hit single “The Symphony.” Around this time, Marl would also assist in the recording of Eric B And Rakim’s debut album “Paid In Full”, which was recorded at Marl’s home studio.
Marl is also credited with being the first hip-hop artist to utilize digital sampling when he lifted “Impeach The President” by The Honey Drippers for MC Shan’s “The Bridge.” This would forever change the way hip-hop beats were made and the way records were produced. Marl was also one of the first producers to comb through James Brown’s entire music catalogue in search of break-beats that would now fuel most rap hits. Legal matters over ownership of Cold Chillin’s catalogue with the distributor caused Marl to move away from the label in the 1990’s but his demand as a hit-making producer grew.
Marl would go on the produce hit albums for artists outside of Cold Chillin’ like, LL Cool J, TLC, Lords Of The Underground and King Tee just to name a mere few. The legal battle for Cold Chillin’s catalogue would be eventually resolved in the courts, with Marl retaining ownership of all material ever recorded for the label.
Later on, Marl would produce records by Capone-N-Noreaga, Da Youngstas, Fat Joe and a solo Rakim. Marl has released four albums of his own as well as collaboration albums with KRS-One and Craig G from 1988 to 2010. In addition Marl has also contributed to several compilation collections. Marl is considered one of the most important producers and figures in hip-hop history.”