Excerpt from XXL By BJ Steiner.
1988: In the late 1980s, popular New York City DJ Mr. Magic and his sidekick, Marley Marl, founded the legendary rap collective, Juice Crew, which would go on to become one of the most important groups in hip-hop history. Consisting primarily of Queensbridge Projects-based MC, the group featured legendary rappers Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, Kool G. Rap, Roxanne Shanté, Masta Ace, Craig G, Tragedy Khadafi and Biz Markie. Marley Marl was the group’s primary producer and many of the group’s solo efforts were housed at legendary hip-hop label, Cold Chillin’ Records, in the 1980s.
On September 1, 1988, Marley Marl would release the classic compilation record, In Control, Vol. 1, that would feature many of the Juice Crew collective’s burgeoning artists rapping over Marley Marl’s state-of-the-art beats. The album would be highlighted by the instantly iconic song, “The Symphony,” featuring four of hip-hop’s most memorable verses from Juice Crew stars, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, Craig G and a debuting Masta Ace.
After the release of the album, Marley’s reputation would grow as a producer. Marley Marl’s innovative production style and unique sampling techniques were seen as a breakthrough for hip-hop. In Control, Vol. 1 served a landmark for producers in hip-hop allowing them to be seen as more than faceless, behind-the-scene puppet masters. The album proved that a producer could be a true artist and star on his own even on the levels of the rappers, themselves. In Control, Vol. 1 allowed Marley Marl to become arguably rap’s first super-producer. It is an achievement that can be seen in the veneration of today’s producers like Pharrel, Timbaland, Dr. Dre and Swizz Beatz.