Rakim & LL Cool J Perform A Boomin’ Tribute To Marley Marl

Earlier this month (October 3), the 2023 BET Hip Hop Awards taped in Atlanta, Georgia. The awards show now aired tonight (October 10). Among its highlights was producer/DJ Marley Marl winning the coveted I Am Hip Hop Award in the culture’s ceremonial 50th year.

Marley Marl is the Queens, New Yorker responsible for launching the careers of Juice Crew MCs Roxanne Shanté, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, Craig G, and Tragedy Khadafi, among others. In his later years, Marley also produced for Heavy D & The Boyz, Lords Of The Underground, Monie Love, and TLC. At radio, he and the late Mr. Magic broke some legendary records during their run at WBLS in the 1980s.

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However, two of his star collaborators happen to be Eric B. & Rakim and LL Cool J. Marley helped launch Eric and Ra by producing breakout hit “Eric B. Is President.” For LL, the Q-U connection took place several albums into Cool J’s career, with Marley producing much of Mama Said Knock You Out, as well as key parts of 14 Shots To The Dome, along with later material.

At the 2023 BET Hip Hop Awards, Rakim and LL gave back to Marley. Flanked by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Technician The DJ as well as a live band led by Adam Blackstone, Rakim took the stage. He performed the hit named after his former partner (who was not present). Then, the Long Island legend moved into “Paid In Full.”

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Then, LL Cool J elevated to the stage. He energetically performed the Marley production of “Jinglin’ Baby” 33 years after it arrived. He moves into “Mr. Good Bar,” “Around The Way Girl,” “Mama Said Knock You Out,” and a special performance of early career hit “Rock The Bells.” Jazzy Jeff freaks one of his trademark scratch routines to the song.

In the crowd, Marley looked on—seated next to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony manager Steve Lobel. Kid Capri, Timbaland, and others cheered from the crowd.

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Later this year, LL Cool J is expected to release his Def Jam Records return album, The F.O.R.C.E., executive produced by Q-Tip. Earlier this year, LL premiered the title track single.

During the last decade, Marley Marl has produced songs for New England MC M-Dot.

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Past I Am Hip Hop Award winners include LL and Rakim, as well as Grandmaster Flash, Doug E. Fresh, Scarface, KRS-One, and MC Lyte.