Marlon Williams (born September 30, 1962), better known as Marley Marl, is an American DJ and record producer, who is considered one of the most important and influential hip-hop producers in the history of hip hop.
Marley Marl was the house producer of the Juice Crew, known for The Bridge Wars, a feud with Boogie Down Productions seen as one of the earliest and influential hip hop beefs. The Juice Crew included Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shanté, Kool G Rap, MC Shan (his cousin) and Masta Ace, and produced many songs for outside artists including King Tee, LL Cool J, and Lords of the Underground. He was also an important figure in the careers of Eric B. & Rakim, producing their first hits "My Melody" and "Eric B Is President".
Marley Marl was one of the pioneers of sampling in hip hop. He was the first to sample a breakbeat and reprogram it, which he did with The Honey Drippers' "Impeach the President" breakbeat on the MC Shan single "The Bridge" from 1985. This was an extremely important feat as it completely changed the way hip hop beats were made, as well as other sample based genres. In his early records, Marl mixed James Brown samples and synthetic beats in a fashion previously unheard of, for the most part.
Marl started his career working for Tuff City Records. He debuted as an electro producer, with a track called "Sucker DJ's" in 1983 like a response to Run DMC's hit called "Sucker MC's", performed by his girlfriend Crystal Smith under the nickname of Dimples D.The next year, Marl also recorded a diss response to "Roxanne Roxanne" by UTFO, in the voice of Roxanne Shanté. In 1985 released his first own track, "DJ's Cuttin" under the pseudonym NYC Cutter. Soon however, Marl's records became more sample heavy, as can be seen by comparing the MC Shan LPs Down By Law (1987) and Born to be Wild (1988); the rhythms became less electronic, with drum machines becoming more prominent.
One of hip-hop's first superproducers, Marley Marl was an early innovator in the art of sampling, developing new techniques that resulted in some of the sharpest beats and hooks in rap's Golden Age. His trademark raw sound became from triggering short samples loaded in 3 Korg SDD-2000 sampling-delay units through the trigger out of the Roland TR-808. As the founder of Cold Chillin' Records, Marl assembled a roster filled with some of the most prominent hip hop talent then working in New York: MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shanté, Kool G Rap & Polo, and Masta Ace. His production work for those and many other artists generally boasted a bright, booming, and robust sound that—along with his ear for a catchy sample—helped move street-level hip-hop's sonic blueprint into more accessible territory. Most important, though, were his skills as a beatmaker; Marl was among the first to mine James Brown records for grooves and also learned how to craft his own drum loops through sampling, which decreased hip-hop's reliance on tinny-sounding drum machines and gave his '80s productions a fresh, modern flavor.
Full article ▸