The Juice Crew was a hip hop collective of largely
Queensbridge-based artists in the mid- to late-1980s. Founded by producer
Marley Marl and radio DJ Mr. Magic and housed by Tyrone William's Cold
Chillin' Records, the Juice Crew would introduce New School artists
Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shanté and Kool G Rap. The
crew produced many answer records and "beefs" - primarily
with rival radio jock Kool DJ Red Alert and the South Bronx's Boogie
Down Productions - as well as the "posse cut", "The
Marley Marl started his career as Mr. Magic's sidekick and DJ on the
influential radio show Rapp Attack, the first exclusively-hip hop music
program to be aired on a major radio station, New York's WBLS-FM; the
show would be instrumental in spring-boarding the careers of the group's
various artists. The crew derived its name from Mr. Magic's alias, "Sir
As a record producer, Marley Marl began the Juice Crew's long tradition
of answer records with their first release - 1983's "Sucker DJs
(I Will Survive)" by Marley's then-girlfriend Dimples D., a response
to Run-D.M.C.'s "Sucker MCs" - but this initial effort failed
to provoke much of a reaction, and was a whimper compared to what was
A chance encounter in 1984 between Mr. Magic, Marley Marl and manager
Tyrone Williams and 15-year old rapper Roxanne Shanté resulted
in their breakout hit "Roxanne's Revenge". A scathing attack
on UTFO's "Roxanne, Roxanne", the song became so popular
it not only garnered a response from the original group (with the help
of a young female rapper claiming to be The Real Roxanne) but inspired
dozens of imitators in a series of records known as the Roxanne Wars.
Keeping his attentions to his Queensbridge public housing project,
Marley's next artist was his cousin MC Shan. Shan's second single,
1986's "Beat Biter", went after local Queens superstar LL
Cool J for allegedly stealing Marley's music. What was significant
about the 12-inch release was not its intended single however but its
B-side "The Bridge", which proved much more popular, finding
not only considerable radio play but the ire of Boogie Down Productions.
BDP, an upstart rap group from the South Bronx led by rapper KRS-One,
took offense to a contested interpretation of MC Shan's lyrics:
they understood Shan to be claiming Queens as the birthplace of hip
hop, when it in fact originated largely in the Bronx. Adding to the
beef was an ongoing feud between Mr. Magic and his arch-rival Kool
DJ Red Alert, who played a similar role in supporting Boogie Down Productions'
nascent career - Mr. Magic on the other hand derided their early efforts.
BDP launched the first attack with "South Bronx", which was
premiered live in concert after an MC Shan performance of "The
Bridge". Shan and Marley responded with "Kill That Noise",
released on MC Shan's 1987 debut Down By Law (the first full-length
release from Tyrone Williams newly-formed Cold Chillin' Records), calling
out KRS-One's attention-grabbing methods. The battle was widely regarded
as having been won however by KRS-One and the BDP Crew, with the diss
track "The Bridge Is Over". Nonetheless, the so-called "Bridge
Wars" would be drawn-out over a number of proxies.
The Juice Crew began to expand around this time, most notably with
the inclusion of two high school friends from Brooklyn, rapper Big
Daddy Kane and "human beatbox" Biz Markie. Biz had already
collaborated with Shanté for 1986's "Def Fresh Crew" and
found success with his Marley-produced debut "Make The Music With
Your Mouth, Biz", which also introduced Juice Crew singer TJ Swan.
In February 1988, Biz's album Goin' Off was released by Cold Chillin',
which had just signed a five-year distribution deal with Warner Bros.
Records. By the following year, Biz would become a national celebrity
with a hit single ("Just A Friend") in the US Top Ten. Big
Daddy Kane went on to become not only one of the biggest selling but
most respected and influential rappers of his time. Kool G Rap, together
with musical partner DJ Polo, was met with similar critical acclaim,
albeit less commercial success. The other artists added to the Juice
Crew/Cold Chillin' roster were Masta Ace and Queensbridge up-and-comers
Tragedy the Intelligent Hoodlum and Craig G.
To showcase both his expanding crew and evolving musical productions,
Marley Marl released in 1988 the label-showcase In Control Volume 1. "The
Symphony", with its sparse drum sample, simple piano melody and
back-to-back line-up of lyrical heavyweights (Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool
G Rap and Big Daddy Kane), made an indelible impression on hip hop,
and is widely regarded as the quintessential "posse cut".
The Juice Crew rode out the decade firmly at the top of hip-hop.
Marley Marl spent the early 1990s as a producer, including work with
LL Cool J in 1990 on Mama Said Knock You Out. It would be the last
year he would contribute to a Juice Crew member's album. 1991's In
Control Volume II (For Your Steering Pleasure) featured appearances
from LL Cool J and Chuck D but also featured little of the original
crew and many unknowns who would never be heard from again. Cold Chillin'
Records struggled in the early 1990s, and less successful acts like
Masta Ace were dropped.
In 2009 they recorded a tribute to Mr. Magic, "Mr. Magic Tribute".
The Intelligent Hoodlum, later known as Tragedy Khadafi in the 1990s,
played a personal role in shaping the lyrics and imagery of Capone-N-Noreaga
and his younger cousin Havoc of Mobb Deep.
As Nas said in an interview in 1998:
Growing up in Queensbridge it was Marley Marl and The Juice Crew
that gave rap niggas like myself hope that there was another life beyond
our hood... He made us believe that although we came from those wild
streets, we still had a chance to change our lives.
2000s QB's Finest sought to honour this heritage with "Da Bridge
2001", an all-star update of MC Shan and Marley Marl's classic,
this time joined by Tragedy, Mobb Deep, Capone, and Nas.
In 2007, the feud between the Juice Crew and Boogie Down Productions
was officially laid to rest when Marley Marl and KRS-One released the
collaborative album, Hip Hop Lives - a quasi-sequel record to Nas'
Hip Hop Is Dead.
The Vapors, a biopic about the Juice Crew directed by Furqaan Clover
and starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Marley Marl and Keke Palmer as Roxanne
Shanté, began production in February 2008. Although right now
the movie is on hold due to money issues.
The groups legacy has been preserved outside the industry in that
the title "Juice Crew" is the official street name for references
to the unrivaled team of hydration specialists serving the University
of Virginia football program in Charlottesville, VA.
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 & DJ
Polo, 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
Marley Marl was one of the pioneers of . 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.
The end of the '80s is often referred to as hip-hop's Golden Age,
a time when the form's creativity was expanding by leaps and bounds.
Marl's Juice Crew was an important force in ushering in this era thanks
to its advances in lyrical technique and the distinctive personalities
of emerging stars like Biz Markie and Big Daddy Kane. With business
at Cold Chillin' booming, Marl put out the first full-length release
under his own name in 1988 (he'd previously recorded the single "DJ
Cuttin'" in 1985 with the alias NYC Cutter). In Control, Vol.
1 was mostly a showcase for various Juice Crew affiliates to strut
their stuff, notably on the larger-than-life posse cut "The Symphony." Marl
scored his greatest crossover success in 1990 by helming LL Cool J's
Mama Said Knock You Out; bolstered by Marl's state-of-the-art production,
the album restored LL's street cred while becoming his biggest seller
ever, making Marl an in-demand remixer. 1991 brought the release of
In Control, Vol. 2, which unfortunately displayed signs that the Cold
Chillin' talent pool was being depleted.
After working with TLC on their 1992 debut, Marl remained mostly quiet
for a few years; 1995 brought the release of House of Hits, a retrospective
of his best productions over the years. Splitting off from Cold Chillin',
Marl spent several years in a legal battle over money and ownership
rights that, in 1998, finally resulted in his being awarded control
of all the songs he'd produced for the label. In the '90s, Marl's status
as a high-profile producer was restored thanks to his work with artists
like Rakim, Lords Of The Underground, Queensbridge's own Capone-N-Noreaga,
Da Youngtas and Fat Joe. In 2001, Marl put together another compilation
of original productions with guest rappers for the British BBE label,
titled Re-Entry. In 1994, Marley Marl was referenced on Biggie Smalls'
track "Juicy" as being one of his early influences.
In September 2007, Marley Marl received an award from the Berklee
College of Music for his contribution to music. Marley Marl has also
been a legend as a radio deejay along side Mr. Magic in the 80's on
a show called Rap Attack on WBLS New York. Marley took the torch to
start his own radio show called Private Radio, later with Pete Rock
and K-Def. The radio show was called Future Flavas that was an online
station and radio show that bounced around from New York radio stations
like Hot 97, Power 105.1. Now Marley is currently back where it all
started, WBLS, with his radio show called Golden Era Radio. Marley
is still touring the world deejaying, playing his brand of funk for
fans of Golden Era hip hop. He is also in the works of producing a
film called The Vapors. The film will be based on Marl and the Juice
Crew in the late 80's the golden era of Hip Hop.
He and KRS-One released Hip-Hop Lives in May 2007 with Marley Marl
as the executive producer.
On June 5, 2007, Marley Marl suffered a heart attack. He was released
from the hospital a few days later on the 8th. According to an interview
in The Source, he blamed the heart attack on stress brought on by his
worries about being a good father.
In 2008, Craig G and he released a collaborative album titled Operation:
Take Back Hip-Hop.
Marl's music has had influences on RZA, DJ Premier, as well as Pete
Rock, who is also a longtime friend. Marley Marl is also a legendary
DJ member of the worldwide DJ organization, The Core DJ's.
Main article: Marley Marl production discography
* In Control, Volume 1 (1988)
* In Control, Volume II - for your steering pleasure (1991)
* Hip Hop Dictionary (2000)
* Re-entry (2001)
* Hip-Hop Lives (2007) (with KRS-One)
* Operation: Take Back Hip-Hop (2008) (with Craig G)
* House of Hits (1995)
* Best of Cold Chillin' (2001)
* Marley Marl's House of Hits (released 2007)
* Hip Hop's Hero w/ Nikal Fieldz (released 2010)