Class Of ’88: In Control, Volume 1

There are few producers that can truthfully speak on pioneering a new era in Rap, and more so changing the game entirely. Yes, you got Puff (Don’t hate, he made jacking look good) with his seemingly unstoppable rise with Bad Boy Records and Dr. Dre taking it back to the West when he put the G in G-Funk, but before those titans had it popping, there was Marley Marl. His sample heavy style mixed with his signature drums straight from the 808 ushered in a new sound; making Marley the go to guy for beats in the 80’s.

 

Born Marlon Williams, the pioneer would solidify his name on his earlier work with MC Shan. Their hit “The Bridge” would be the nucleus to the legendary Bridge Wars with KRS-ONE. Marley would go on to produce for Hip-Hop’s elite; namely a powerful collective that he would form himself appropriately named The Juice Crew. Compromised of future legends such as Kool G. Rap, Biz Markie, Masta Ace, Roxanne Shante’ and Big Daddy Kane, they would lay down the blueprint for any forthcoming Rap squads, clans, or clicks to follow.

 

In light of the Juice Crew’s dominance, Marley worked on a compilation highlighting all the members. Originally released on November 30th, 1987, In Control, Volume 1 would influence a countless amount of lyricists and beatmakers. Don’t believe us? Where do you think Nas got Illmatic? Ask Pete Rock who he wanted to be like when he got his first piece of equipment. And to top it all off ladies and gentleman we have “The Symphony.” Some may argue it is the best posse cut of all time, but we at AllHipHop.com rather call it a duet with history.

 

Twenty years later some of you still haven’t done your homework. Consider this a free study group being taught by the man himself, Marley Marl. School is in session.

 

 

Craig G

“Droppin’ Science”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: Wow. That was a track we had. Actually that was the original version that we put on the album. When we did the 12” inch version that’s when I put the “Who’s Making Love” (Lou Donaldson) sample on it. At first Craig G didn’t like that version. So he was like “Nah don’t give the other one out!” I was like believe me! After ten plays up in the living room, he started agreeing that was the better version.

 

Heavy D. and Biz Markie

“We Write The Songs”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: That was supposed to be for Heavy D’s album originally. That’s when I was producing Heavy D. I had did “The Overweight Lovers In The House” and worked on “Mr. Big Stuff” and all that good stuff in the Uptown [Records] era. So he was already down with me in terms of production. That was something I had for his album. The stuff I had for him was more danceable and more up tempo. I kept that for me because it was kind of hot.

 

Biz wrote [his own] verse. Actually I have a version where Biz threw him off beat and we had to go do it again. I made the whole album with an 808 and two SDD digital samplers from Korg; Sampling Digital Delays. I didn’t have the state of the art, but I had samplers so it let me musically manipulate any sound that I wanted. All my earliest productions from that time have that thick snare.

 

Tragedy

“The Rebel”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: I used to produce a group called the The Super Kids for Fania Records which consisted of DJ Hot Day from Queensbridge and Tragedy. They were records made. That one was one the records we made for their album but what happened the album didn’t come out because Tragedy went to jail. I put that on my album and made sure he had a bank account when he got of jail. A lot of these tracks on this album I did were spare tracks that I had that were dope. At that time I was making two or three songs with artists. All we used to do was sit back and blaze. This is where Nas’ got Illmatic.

 

Masta Ace and Action

“Keep Your Eyes On The Prize”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: Okay, that was a demo I made with Ace. Ace basically he won a contest. I had a Rap contest at a roller skate rink in Queens and Masta Ace was the winner. The prize was to go into the studio with Marley Marl and make a demo (Chuckles). He was so dope I just didn’t make one demo. I just kept going with him. That was something that came from one of those classic sessions.

 

Masta Ace, Craig G., Kool G. Rap, and Big Daddy Kane

“The Symphony”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: “The Symphony” was made specifically for that album. That wasn’t a leftover. That was specifically made for the In Control album. It was actually made the very day that we took picture for the back of the album with the learjet. Right after that photo session we all suggested that we all should do a posse record with everybody. Kane had the chorus “Next up, I believe that’s me.” He was like “In between that, we could say this.” I was like oh that’s dope! Kane actually named it “The Symphony” from one of his rhymes. [MC] Shan was supposed to meet us there. Shan was like “I’ll meet ya’ll there later, I’m going to my girl’s house.” And we still waiting for him. I believe that could have been a life changing recording for Shan if he would have been on “The Symphony.”

 

When “The Symphony” dropped and I knew that was the first single off the album. I knew we were going to move some units. “The Symphony,” “Droppin’ Science;” it was too many joints on there. My wife came up with the idea for the album cover. She said “We should have your crew in front a learjet, it’s clean and no on ever did that in Rap.” That was the first time rappers were into private jets and stuff.

 

[In regards to the competitive nature of the session] Oh yeah. It was so competitive. I did the line up kind of in priority to how everybody was at that point. So we put Masta Ace on it first. He was happy to be on it. But being first on a record back that didn’t mean you were in a good position, but right now that’s the best position. That verse always gets played when the record comes on. I put Craig G. second. It was a toss up between who was going to be last, but G. Rap rhymed all the way until the end and didn’t leave Kane no room. It was crazy.

 

[In regards to when Big Daddy Kane rapped his verse at the session] Incredible! Incredible! At that point Big Daddy Kane was one of the people that changed Rap. I could honestly say after “Raw” came out Rap was different. Rap was a little slower. When “Raw” came out that was probably one of the fastest records at that time. His rhyme style made all the older rhyme styles go to bed. Then we had the Rakims pop up. You had everyone popping up with punch lines and stuff.

 

Kane was always ahead of his time. What I can say about him too is he was always hit me with an idea and I would execute it straight out. Kane upped my level of production by challenging what I do. He was so ahead of his time, nobody was thinking like him.

 

[In regards to the Otis Redding “Hard To Handle” sample] Actually Champagne from WBLS, she still works there, she was working in the programming department. She was like “I found this record, I know you like records with pianos, so I got a dope record with a piano that you could sample.” It was straight from Al Jackson’s library.

 

[In regards to the video shoot of “The Symphony”] All I can say is someone got shot on the tour bus on the way to the video. That’s going to be in my movie The Vapors. What it is a famous rapper shot him by mistake, one of the Juice Crew members shot him. I’m not going to let it out of the bag, go see the movie for that.

 

Tragedy

“Live Motivator”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: That wasn’t from The Super Kids because you can see he was a different rapper at that point. This is quoted from Nas to me. Nas told me he got the vibe for Illmatic from there. You hear it? Nas told me that “Live Motivator” was the blueprint to Queensbridge Rappers. He got a lot of his style from that record right there. You can hear the second verse; that’s Nasty Nas bro. That’s when Nas was Nasty!

 

Recite rhymes like a poet use the pen for my enduranceTechniques are abusive, so is my performanceRecord rotating, life is motivatingThe master of lyricists, rhymes coordinatingEinstein of lyrics, mad psychopathRather listen to the Trag on your phonographOriginal Asiatic, rhymatical mechanicJetting like a Uzi ammunated automaticOn the strength, I’m terrific, rhymes are hieroglyphicUse a potion in a motion, my brain is scientificRhymatical motivating, chief-annihilatingThe lyrical poet be your exterminatingBorn to destroy, talkologist terminatorThe rebel of the treble, the Motivator

 

Craig G.

“Duck Alert”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: We wanted to get Chuck Chillout and Red Alert. It was actually a diss record for Chuck Chillout and Red Alert during the Hip-Hop battles.

 

Masta Ace and Action

“Simon Says”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: That was made for the album. That’s when Ace was really finding himself as a rapper and started experimenting with that record. That’s what became of it. He was always quiet lyrical. In the late 90’s it was way after the Juice Crew era for him, he was really able to show his lyrical skills. No one ever slept on him, it was just that it was so much competition that it’s hard to get noticed when there’s a Kane and Biz; and everybody else. I think later on the smoke really cleared and everybody saw what a great lyricist he really was. He really had it back then but it was a tough climate; so he didn’t really get the attention he really and truly deserved.

 

MC Shan

“Freedom”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: I couldn’t do the album without anything from Shan at that point. I had already stopped touring with him and everything; but the record company really suggested I shouldn’t do an album without a Shan cut. So I took that song and remixed it on my album. [The reason why I stopped touring with him] is in the movie. That was during the BDP era, we had a little confrontation [based on] him wanting to do shows with BDP and I didn’t.

 

Roxanne Shante’

“Wack It”

Produced By Marley Marl

 

Marley Marl: I wasn’t touring with her neither, but what we decided to do because “Push It” was hot, she made that record. She didn’t really agree with “Push It.” She didn’t understand why it was such a big record. That was actually an answer to “Push It.”

 

 

Masta Ace, Craig G., Kool G. Rap, and Big Daddy Kane

“The Symphony”

Tragedy

“Live Motivator”

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