Marley Marl Remembers Giving Nas Some Key Demo Pointers, Talks Sample Revenue Loophole (Video)

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Hi. We recently created AFH TV, Ambrosia For Heads’ streaming video service, because we believe real Hip-Hop deserves its own dedicated TV home, but we need your help to make it great. Please subscribe to AFH TV. It is only $1.99/month or $12/year, and already features some amazing content, but the best is yet to come. Thank you for all of your support.

Marley Marl might just be Hip-Hop’s greatest producer. The Queens, New York legend is not easily accessible these days, so when he appeared in Tokyo, Japan before a live, engaged audience, it’s “kind of like a big deal.” Red Bull Music Academy/ego trip!‘s “Chairman” Jeff Mao sat down with the Juice Crew founder for a three-hour discussion, much of which was based around questions from lecture-goers. On the strength of that alone, one has to respect Marley, Chairman Mao, and RBMA immensely.

For Heads who especially love the records that shaped Hip-Hop’s sound between 1986 and 1994, there are so many jewels here. The DJ-turned-producer tells his story, from years as Mr. Magic’s side-kick into carefully crafting what may be truly be the most lyrically lethal Rap clique ever. Along the way, the “Bridge Wars” with Boogie Down Productions, Just-Ice, DJ Red Alert and others are explained, as Marlon Williams understands, anyway.

LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Eric B. & Rakim, and MC Shan Heads have plenty to sift through. Marley is in especially good spirits, and quite open to discussing the singles, albums, and moments that defined Hip-Hop as we live and love it.

Shortly before the two-hour mark, Marley recalls a moment in 1993 or 1994 when Nas came to him, a bit self-conscious of The Notorious B.I.G.’s skyrocketing status within Hip-Hop, especially in New York. As Marley tells it, the pair responded (competitively speaking) with three demo recordings, all including one verse from the budding Queensbridge MC. One of those tracks, “On The Real,” would miss the cut for Illmatic, an LP Marley’s work missed altogether. However, an altered version appeared on the 2004 remaster edition. Jeff and Marlon listen to the original spot, and the In Control producer explains the conversation that prompted the sparse, in-the-pocket moment from Nasty Nas.

In another extremely interesting part, just before the three-hour mark, Marley Marl explained how his Isaac Hayes flip for Biz Markie’s “Make The Music With Your Mouth” took on a life of its own. Marley’s re-arranging of Ike’s composition would be re-purposed in the ’90s and 2000s for Jay Z, Mary J. Blige, and others. With that, he’s gained a writing credit (despite sampling Hayes before the copyright cases of Gilbert O’Sullivan, ironically, against Biz and The Turtles against De La Soul). So, Jay and Mary and their producers, made a way to pay Marley Marl for records he sampled. After that question, Marley breaks down some legendary history surrounding one of Hip-Hop’s most integral break-beats, The Honeydrippers’ “Impeach The President.”

Lean back, and take in this staggering history lesson from a true master.

Related: Hear The Rap Attack: Mr. Magic & Marley Marl That Inspired Biggie Smalls (Audio)