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“Every Saturday, Rap Attack, Mr. Magic Marley Marl”  – Biggie Smalls on 1994’s ‘Juicy’

Art often reflects a period in time as well as the social climate at that moment, and throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s the raw, gritty attitudes emitted from the concrete jungle were now being blared over the commercial-radio airwaves in New York City every weekend.

During a time when respect was earned by displaying unique creativity, rather than by sales or how many products are promoted in a recording, very few artists have impacted Hip-Hop the way DJ Marley Marl has.  Matter fact, where would Hip-Hop music be today without his contributions?

DJ Marley Marl was born September 30th 1962 in New York and grew up in the Queensbridge housing projects in Long Island City, Queens.  As a youth he’d spin records at local events where he encountered under-rated musician/singer Edwin Birdsong who’d go on to help mentor him throughout his career.

“Is it live?  Or is it Marley Marl?” Mr. Magic often asked as his DJ cut records on-air.

Eventually Marley hooked up with Mr. Magic and in 1981 they established the groundbreaking ‘Rap Attack’ program, a new mix show format which treated audiences to the most recent Hip-Hop exclusives available, as well as live in-studio interviews with popular Hip-Hop artists.

By July of the following year they had moved their show to WBLS 107.5FM which broadcasted them over the metropolitan area every Friday and Saturday night (9PM-midnight) for the next 6 years.

For many, it was the first time and only place they had ever heard a DJ scratch a record back & forth, whether live or in person  After Mr. Magic’s departure, Marley remained on-air at BLS for the next few years with his own ‘In Control’ radio show.

“All you other DJs are a bunch of jerks / Marley give’em an example of how a DJ works” -MC Shan implored as Marley then demonstrated his scratching skills on the independent label, Nia Records, 1985 release “Marley Scratch”

Marley sculpted the sound which ushered in Hip-Hop’s first ‘New School’ era during the mid ‘80s, commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Age’ by many.  What he introduced to the production of music forever changed the game and upped the ante as far as the overall creativity is concerned.

The innovative art of ‘chopping drums’ has been taken for granted by Hip-Hop music producers of the last couple decades, but it was super-producer Marley Marl who innovated the science of sampling individual drum sounds – snare, hi-hat, kick; many times from different sources – then rearranging them in a completely different and unique pattern.

Also, by sampling different parts of a record and then looping and layering them, he would create a new sound altogether.

“I just wanted to be different,” Marley remark when asked what motivated him to develop this technique.

He’d sample a James Brown record, reconfigure the drums and give it a completely new feel.  By doing so, his innovative sound set him apart from other producers who were still utilizing pre-programmed drum patterns and sounds contained in the keyboards and samplers of that time.

There hasn’t been a DJ or producer who has not been influenced by Marley Marl in the last 25 years – whether it be Pete Rock, Easy Mo Bee, Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Rza, Just Blaze or Kanye West.

“I done stuffed tissue in the top of a tape just to record Marley Marl” – Fame on M.O.P.’s “Follow Instructions” [2000]

Many True-Skool Hip-Hop heads remember rushing to their ghetto blasters – cassette tape in hand – to record Mr. Magic and Marley Marl during their ‘Rap Attack’ program on WBLS FM each weekend.  With the exposure brought by being the co-host on the most popular radio show in NYC Marley was introduced to some of the illest talents in the metropolitan area to grasp an iron mic.

Laying down the tracks for the likes of MC Shan, Roxanne Shante, Kool G, Rap, Masta Ace, Bizmarkie, Big Daddy Kane,  Rakim, Craig G and Tragedy; as well as also introducing phenomenal DJs Clark Kent and Pete Rock – helped establish Marley as one of the most influential individuals in the history of Hip-Hop.

A look at most respected ‘Top 10 MCs Of  All Times’ Lists’ is sure to include at least 4 MCs which Marley contributed to their careers in one way or another.  He produced the tracks for Rakim Allah’s breakout single – ‘Eric B Is President’ and the B Side – ‘My Melody’, Big Daddy Kane’s debut album “Long Live The Kane’ and Kool G Rap’s initial effort ‘Road To The Riches’.

Mr. Magic’s, a.k.a. Sir Juice, refusal to allow KRS-ONE inclusion into the Juice Crew All Stars fueled one of the greatest rivalries in Hip-Hop’s short existence. In 1990 Marley produced LL Cool J’s best selling and most respected album “Momma Said Knock You Out”

“My crew got Juice like Marley Marl” – Timbaland bragged on Aaliyah’s ‘Are You That Somebody?’ [1998]

Marley Marl’s unprecedented posse cut ‘The Symphony’ featured one of the greatest collaboration of lyrical talent ever witnessed.  This format was soon emulated by many.  Wu-Tang head – the Rza credits Marley for inspiring him to conceive of the idea of forming his super group.

All music clicks in Hip-Hop during the last 2 decades should pay homage to the man who laid down the foundation to do so.

As an entrepreneur he helped to establish Cold Chillin’ as one of the premier Hip-Hop record labels of all time.  It set a blueprint which many Hip-Hop labels later utilized. Although he was still DJ-in’ on the air, by the early ‘90s Marley was well sought out as a remixer.  He had moved on from BLS and along with Pete Rock was now hosting their cutting edge show ‘Future Flavahs’ on the newly created Hot 97.  He remained there until Power 105 was established where he then took his underground brand sound of music with him.

Marley suffered a heart attack back on June 5th 2007.  He soon recovered and adjusted his living habits in order to have a better standard of living and shared his experiences with his listeners over the airwaves.  Tragically, Mr. Magic suffered a heart attack and made his transition last October 2nd as they were on the verge to return to WBLS.

“Along with Mr. Magic on WBLS, and also Red Alert on Kiss FM, Marley established rap’s presence on radio in the number 1 market and set the tone for the rest of the country to follow.  He helped make the inroads and paved the way for all-rap formats that we see today,” reflected radio co-host DX-21 from the Star & Bucwild Show.

Currently Marley is back at his former station doing his Golden Era showcase on every Friday and Saturday (9-11PM) and at noon during the week.  The common format for urban radio during the last 25 years was set in place almost 30 years ago by the pioneering duo of Mr. Magic and Marley Marl, so much redit is due to them.

Marley is also doing shows on internet and satellite radio.  Back in 2007, he and KRS released ‘Hip-Hop Lives’.  He is also producing a film called “The Vapors” about some of his experiences as a pioneer and the exploits of the Juice Crew.

Happy Physical Day DJ Legend!!!  Many more!!!