When I was younger, I remember buying the Juice Crew’s “The Symphony” record, and I immediately fell in love with that song. I memorized every line, and must’ve played it so many times that the record sleeve ripped. I even remember sitting down at the piano and self-teaching myself that piano loop. I had never been to New York at that point in my life, and I knew that Queens was far from the ‘Natti, but listening to this record—I felt like I could’ve been right there in the QB projects.
Now let’s fast forward to last week. I am in the elevator in New York, on my way to sit down and record an interview with Marley Marl for his show Future Flavas on Power 105. Excuse me, the LEGENDARY Marley Marl. My mind starts racing and a million thoughts come to mind. All I can hear in my head is that piano loop from “The Symphony”. Over the elevator, the speakers are bumping some club-friendly song that uses the same drums from “Impeach The President.” I look on the wall and see an ad for the radio station with LL Cool J on it and think to myself, “Mama Said Knock You Out.” It immediately reminded me what a huge contribution Marley has made to the hip-hop. I begin to think this man is one of the pioneers of the game, the first dude to really chop up samples to produce records. He was the original “King Of Digging”—he found all the dope break records and manipulated them into works of art. What could I really tell him that I’ve done that he hasn’t done already a hundred times over?
As the door opens, I’m escorted into his studio. My nervousness turns into humility as he embraces me and lets me know what a fan he is of my music. We break the ice by talking about new equipment and mutual studios we’ve worked in—I’m soon feeling as if I’m accompanied by an old friend rather than the larger-than-life person I had made him up to be. As the interview jumps off, I start to feel really comfortable, but Marley’s laid-back demeanor and his questions brought out some of the best answers of any interview I’ve ever done. In my experience, some of the interviews I’ve done ask…I’ve received some generic-ass questions. Marley’s questions were so authentic that I poured out some of the most genuine answers I’ve ever done. He wasn’t asking the questions of a fan or of a magazine editor getting paid to do a job—these we’re sincere questions coming from the heart, from the mind of a fellow producer, a member of hip-hop. Now, in my career I have done many interviews, and I can tell the difference between writers who have been “prepped” versus the people who know of my music, and I was amazed that he was a dear fan of my work.
As we’ve moved on from the cassette tape days to the mp3 days, I think back to the crate of records I have back in my studio, my “Crate Of Classics”. All names synonymous with the golden age of hip-hop: Kool G Rap, Eric B & Rakim, the Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Biz Markie. They are all bound together by one man: Marley Marl. His influence on this music is awesome; he is truly a hip-hop icon. People like him pushed me to do what I do. The Afrika Bambaataas, the Marley Marls and the Jam Master Jays, the true purveyors of our music. I can only hope I leave a mark on this game like they do. Thanks Marley.
Hi-Tek feat. Jadakiss, Papoose, Talib Kweli & Raekwon “Where It Started At (NY)”
from Hi-Teknology 2, in stores October 17th