Taken from Ambrosia for Heads (October 29, 2015)
Marley Marl Says KRS-One Asked To Be In The Juice Crew Audio
Rare Photo Juice Crew
Iconic Hip-Hop producer and DJ Marley Marl is the most recent guest on Ice-T’s Final Level Podcast. The man largely responsible for introducing the music community to Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Biz Markie, and countless others sat in with Ice and Mick Benzo for nearly 90 minutes.
As the structure of the O.G.’s talk show, the Queens, New York legend joined the Rhyme Syndicate founder to discuss politics, sports, television, video games, and more. However, approaching the 48:00 mark, Ice and Mick interview the Juice Crew co-founder, and from a historical Hip-Hop perspective, things get nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Asked about his first truly produced record, Marley Marl explained his ambitions of forming a Rap squad prior to the Juice Crew. Marlon Williams recalled working with Dimples D., who famously made “Sucker DJ,” originally as a Party Time Records single. However in the crew’s dealings with Marley, the Queensbridge Houses native said he could not translate the stage energy to the studio. The group disbanded without a record. Marley explained that he was merely producing reels, for his WHBI radio show with Mr. Magic, and other events. One record in particular sampled The Honeydrippers’ 1973 single “Impeach The President,” with a fellow Q.B. artist, MC Shan, simply talking about his neighborhood.
“Even when I did ‘The Bridge’ with MC Shan, that wasn’t supposed to be a [true record],” began Marley. “That was background music for Band Day in Queensbridge—like intermission music, for in between the bands.” Marley maintained that Shan’s now-famous bars are merely intended to show civic pride—not an indictment on other boroughs, especially the Bronx. “[MC Shan] did the intermission song, talkin’ about Queensbridge. ‘This is a little story about where we come from.’ That’s what he said, ’cause that was intermission music. So while they played that music, the bands were changing on stage.” What was only heard by a community of concert-goers in 1986 would become one of Rap’s biggest, and most controversial singles. Asked how the one-off reel became a Prism Records hit, “It leaked out,” said its producer. Still, Marley feels as though that record does not qualify as his true breakout first production.
Merely mentioning the Shan single prompts additional discussion from hosts Ice-T and Mick Benzo. The latter says, “We thought y’all was comin’ at the Bronx on that one.”
Marley Marl defended the record that started “The Bridge Wars” though. “We wasn’t. See, y’all should’ve comprehended that. We said, ‘We just gonna tell you a little story ’bout where we come from’,” he quoted Shan’s lyrics again. “That was not supposed to be a record, that was for that!”
“See, we gettin’ the truth here! Break it down!” exclaimed Ice-T at one point.
The anecdotes surrounding The Bridge Wars continue in this unadulterated interview. Marley Marl stated that early on, KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock had approached DJ Mr. Magic about joining the fledgling Juice Crew. “Basically, KRS-One came to me and Mr. Magic at Power Play [Studios] one day; he was so excited to meet Mr. Magic. ‘Cause, you gotta look: Mr. Magic was the pinnacle of Rap at that point [may he] rest in peace. He was becoming a superstar because of Rap music. He was puttin’ on Rap, so everybody wanted to be down with him. One day, Scott La Rock and KRS-One ran up to him, praisin’ him, ‘Yo, we love you, Mr. Magic! Yo, we wanna get in your Juice Crew. We want you to hear our stuff! We want you to hear our music!”
Marley, who mentioned KRS-One’s ties to Brooklyn, says Kris saw the movement happening with Shan, Roxanne Shante, and two of New York City’s biggest DJs. “He tried to be in the Juice Crew, but Mr. Magic kinda dissed him. You know Mr. Magic was like, ‘Yo, your music sucks. You’re wack!'” Marley continued, explaining the setting in Power Play Studios. “Just think about this: you’re in the room, you’re playing your music loud; you’re auditioning, [vibing] off the songs and moving, jumping around to the words—and Magic goes over and turns [the music] down real quick and says, ‘Yo, this is bullshit. It’s wack.'” Marley’s mentor, Mr. Magic (a/k/a John Rivas) died in 2009. “Mr. Magic was a very no holds barred person.”
Marley Marl recalled the Boogie Down Productions members deeply upset by Mr. Magic’s reaction. The DJ remembers gathering his personal belongings from the studio, anticipating an altercation. “It looked like it was not a good situation. They was mad at Magic. They lookin’ at him all crazy ’cause he dissed them. I said, ‘Let me just get up outta the studio.’ I [was recording with Roxanne Shante], so I left. I forgot the reel.” The DAT reel that Marley Marl left behind, as he claimed, was the drum tracks to what would eventually become an answer record to “The Bridge,” B.D.P.’s “The Bridge Is Over.” Marley continued, “That’s the reel that Ced Gee found, and put up, and would make ‘The Bridge Is Over’ with my drum sounds.” Ced Gee, who co-founded Ultramagnetic MC’s, reportedly built upon Marley’s arrangement. Did I co-produce ‘The Bridge Is Over’? hypothetically asks the man who would later make an entire 2008 album with KRS-One, called Hip-Hop Lives.
Later in the interview, Marley Marl explains being Eric B.’s roommate, working with Rakim, and more.
For those interested, Marley does say that 1985’s “Marley Marl Scratch” is what he believes to be his first true production.