DJ Marley Marl has always been credited as a pillar of influence when it comes to making great New York Hip Hop music. Sitting down with NPR recently however, Marley revealed how it may be more than just producing great records for the Juice Crew.
The Queensbridge native said that on accident, he discovered sampling drums and according to the time period, would be one of the earliest producers to do so. He described how he recorded a James Brown drum and subsequently realized he could do that with any record.
“I was like, ‘Yo, it means more than that! That means that I can go to my library at home — I’ve got so many records! I can take the kicks, the snares from everything and make my own patterns!'” Marley Marl said when describing his back and fourth with his engineer. “He looked at me like I was crazy like, what the hell are you talking about?”
Marley also talked about the type of music he was into early as a deejay. He explained that electronic was his favorite and that it provided him perspective when deejaying.
“I was into electronica first. I was like a deejay’s deejay,” he said. “I wasn’t like, just a rap deejay. So I was interning at Unique Studios. Seeing a lot of technology happen, really playing around with Fairlight computers when they was too expensive to touch.”
Marley Marl Discusses LL Cool J’s Street Credibility
One of the more notable parts of the interview was when Marley described LL Cool J’s comeback in New York, believing that LL’s early 90s records were very influential in gaining street credibility.
“That was one of the pinnacle points of LL’s return. In a big way,” he said. “I think it was a anti-gun rally — matter of fact I did see it was a anti-gun rally in Harlem, and I think PE was performing, They said, ‘I want to shout out my boy LL Cool J. He’s here!’ ‘Boooooooo.’ I seen a video of his face. I was like, ‘wow.’ I heard about it but I never seen it until I saw the video.
“His street cred wasn’t right,” he continued. “Because of the Walking With A Panther album — it was a great album but it wasn’t street. Because N.W.A. started coming out at that point. You got Public Enemy fighting the power. It was political or gun shit. He was in the middle and that’s just what happened. I guess the hood felt that he wasn’t supplying them with what they want, and they booed him. He had to regroup. His grandmother said, ‘Go knock ’em out,’ and he came to my house and we knocked ’em out.”
Finally of note, Marley recalled some of his early recording techniques and the influence those had in New York City when the radio wouldn’t play Hip Hop.
“You gotta think: It wasn’t on the radio,” Marley said when talking about the old days. “There was tapes that people would record right from their box, straight off the microphone, and those tapes would resonate throughout the city. That’s how most of the people who loved hip-hop in the early-’80s, late-’70s — this was our smoke signals, those tapes, those early tapes coming out of Harlem and the Bronx.”
Read the full NPR interview here.