Marley Marl

In 1985 under the pseudonym of NYC Cutter, Marl released his début track called ‘DJ Cuttin’’ in an effort to showcase his newly honed skills as a producer and DJ.

The Juice Crew started a campaign of battles against their peers in the industry starting with U.T.F.O. who, after promising to perform a jingle on Mr. Magic’s show, went over to rival DJ Red Alert on KISS-FM and performed the b-side track, ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ to which Shanté took as personal and answered with the infamous battle track, ‘Roxanne’s Revenge.’ Marl had urged a response to save face of his Queens image and employed the lyrical help of MC Shan and vocals of young, brash 14 year old Roxanne Shante to perform the comeback. Marl utilized the same instrumental as Roxanne Roxanne to return the attack. Marl made plenty of tapes and the Revenge hit was crammed through WBLS and supplied to jocks of willing radio stations through the area. This single-handedly gave Shanté the notoriety she wanted as a serious artist and established Marl as a fully-respected producer.

The first single released from Cold Chillin’ Records headed by Mr. Magic and Tyrone Williams (no relation) with Marl as the house producer was MC Shan’s Queens Anthem ‘The Bridge’. Marl’s bravado as King of Queens gave him the tenacity with Juice member MC Shan to produce the single promoting the hip-hop culture emerging from Queens to rival the Boogie-Down. Unfortunately this is just how Boogie Down Productions took this track as. During this period KRS-One claims Mr. Magic refused to respect BDP as a serious rap act and refused to sign them to Cold Chillin’ stating Juice Crew was far better. Members KRS-One, D-Nice and DJ Scott La-Rock answered this with their Anthem ‘South Bronx’. This started a feud between the motherland, Bronx and upstart Queens crews. Supporting radio stations showed allegiance to their side by refusing to play the other’s tracks… This like most hip-hop stunts only boosted the market of everyone involved. Throughout the 80’s this was dubbed the “Bridge Wars”.

Soon after the beef was settled by 1987 many of Juice had started solo projects with Cold Chillin’ with Marl producing their work. Marl produced Shan’s debut, ‘Down By Law’ only to find pressure in fame and fall prey to the life of drugs. He left Cold Chillin’ and his second album in ’88 was not produced by Marl, the album dropped like lead as failure. It was at this stage Marl had relocated the ‘House of Hits’ operation upstate to Chestnut Ridge, New York due to over-zealous Queens locals wanting the miters touch of Marl. The first act to break in the new recording facility was Biz Markie who had a strong identity of being a cartoonish, chubby and comedic rapper who called himself ‘The Diabolical’. Marl used James Brown tracks to produce his hit singles. On ‘The Vapors’ track he used Brown’s bombastic, ‘Papa Don’t Take No Mess’. The single was a huge hit for Marl as well as Markie and earned heavy rotation on New York’s Video Music Box show.

After the success of Juice’s final single, ‘The Symphony’ was released Marl found himself inundated with projects from Big Daddy Kane, Markie, Shante, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo all of whom were signed with Cold Chillin’ by 1989. Marl fitted time in for his own solo albums ‘In Control Volume 1 & 2’ which found him collaborating with most of the original Juice Crew members. The break up of Juice is hazy when finding a responsible factor, each blaming each other. It could all come down to a clash of blossoming egos. Marl continued his career as a super producer for the spin off acts.

Leaving the rest of the crew to fend for themselves, Marl helped establish the careers of Eric B & Rakim producing their first hits ‘My Melody’ and ‘Eric B. is President’ using his signature James Brown samples and synthetic beats. Marl produced fellow Queens native LL Cool J’s masterpiece ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ in 1990. In 1998 Marley Marl was awarded sole ownership of his Cold Chillin’ produced tracks after suing for $500,000 in back royalties. Today he remains as a radio DJ with Pete Rock on NYC’s Hot 97. Marley Marl is still learning new techniques in the lab of upstate New York, living large and cold chillin’.

He overcame the stigma of a novelty act when he could drop dope verses, scratch and spin 12” records alongside any of his peers. He was recognized as an accomplished artist when he dropped the single "Vapors" written by Big Daddy Kane in 1988.


  • 1988 In Control Volume 1
  • 1991 In Control Volume 2 (For Your Steering Pleasure)
  • 1995 Marley Marl’s House Hits
  • 1996 Marley Marl: The Queensbridge Sessions
  • 2001 Re-Entry

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