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DJ Marley Marl: Pioneer, Producer Legend, Radio Icon

DJ Marley Marl: Pioneer, Producer Legend, Radio Icon

08/11/2023 12:00 AM EDT by Bato Aydelotte

From Queens, NY, DJ Marley Marl is known for being a founding father in hip-hop. As a DJ, producer, rapper, and label founder, he forever changed the style and culture of the genre. To quote Red Bull Music Academy Marley Marl is known for “revolutionized hip-hop when he pioneered the practice of sampling drum sounds and creating his own proto-boom-bap rhythms,” Marl set the blueprint for the industry.

In the early 80s, Marl began his career at Unique Recording Studios in NYC, where he developed his sound as a producer. He then started interning at WBLS, where he met legendary DJ Mr. Magic. From there, he was offered the opportunity to become Magic’s DJ. This was a major break for Marl, leading them both, including Big Daddy Kane, to form the Juice Crew. After receiving this new opportunity, Marl began producing for Kane, and together they made his debut album, Long Live The Kane (1988), on which he has full producer credits. Other artists he’s produced for include LL Cool J, Biz Markie, and TLC.

Subsequently, after a few years of strictly producing, he transitioned back to being a DJ talent at Hot 97. He and DJ Pete Rock formed a show called Future Flavas, which dominated the radio world in the 1990s. As time goes on, his music is credited with inspiring countless hip-hop legends, such as RZA, DJ Premier, and Pete Rock. In 2023 the effects of Marl’s work can still be felt. Marley Marl is the Godfather of sampling, and 50 years into hip-hop sampling is still one of the most utilized production techniques in music. In 2009 Marl returned to WBLS, where he still works today, hosting a show every Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. He also has a show every Saturday called GOLDEN ERA Radio from 9-11 p.m.