Legend, Pioneer, Innovator…all these terms come to mind when describing the greatest producer in Hip Hop history; Marley Marl. It was Marley who helped put Hip-Hop on the map during its golden era in the 80's. It was Marley who revolutionized the position of the producer. And it was Marley who introduced the world of sampling to Hip-Hop, thus changing the way Hip-Hop would be shaped forever. Simply put, Marley Marl is a legend and is not only the greatest producer to ever step behind the boards, but is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most influential figures in Hip Hop history.
Never heard of Marley Marl? Better study your Hip Hop history. Marley has been responsible for some of the biggest hits for some of the biggest artists over the past two decades, such as Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, the whole Juice Crew, LL Cool J, Rakim, Lords of the Underground, and much more. After laying low for the past couple of years, Marley returns with his edition in the Beat Generation series, and even after all these years, hasn't lost a step.
As With all Beat Generation albums, "Re Entry" contains a great mix of beautifully produced instrumental tracks and hard hitting cuts covering all spectrums of Hip-Hop. The album starts off with the amazing "Do U Remember." The track features scratch filled snippets of some of Marley's greatest work such as "Mama Said Knock You Out", "Nobody Beats The Biz," "Funky Child," and "The Bridge" all over a smooth piano loop in the backdrop. The track truly transports you into the time period of these tracks. You can smell the nostalgia in the air.
However, the biggest treat on "Re Entry" is the return of the legendary combination of Marley and Big Daddy Kane. The two reunite and deliver another classic performance on the sex tales of "Three's Company." Kane rips the track with his humorous lyricism about his experience with a threesome. "What Ruling Means" features Kevin Brown and Grap Luva spitting nicely over a mellow, jazz filled beat by Marley. Grap Luva steals the show with a staggering verse.
"What U Hold Down" by T. Sluggs and Capone of CNN is another grimy, thugged out Queens anthem. The track's dark, vicious production truly sets the mood, while both emcees do their usual performance. It's the type of track we have all grown accustomed to hearing from Marley over the years. More standout tracks on "Re Entry" include "Who's Sicker" by The Hemmingway's and "Hummin" featuring Ray Ayers and Edwin Birdsong.
But what truly makes any Beat Generation album great are the beautifully crafted instrumentals that capture the heart and soul of the artist. While "Re Entry" only features five instrumental tracks, each one delivers in ways indescribable. Tracks like "Live Ova Beats", "NY, NY", and "Big Face" are all phenomenal and prove Marley is still one of the greatest in the game. But it's the two tracks "Just Funky" and "Lost Beats" that truly captivate and encompass the Marley sound. Both are prime examples of classic production.
While "Re Entry" is a solid album, it does falter at times. The problem doesn't lie within Marley's production, but within his team of young, inexperienced emcees, such as, Seven Shawn, Larry O, J Wells, and Miss Man fail to deliver up to the standards that are set when rhyming on a Marley track. Tracks such as "Easy Type Shit" by Seven Shawn, "Foundation Symphony" featuring Larry O, Seven Shawn, J Wells & Miss Man, and "So Good" by J Wells and Edwin Birdsong all feature spectacular production but each emcee's presence and charisma on the mic are nowhere to be found.
Instead of gathering some of the biggest names in the industry, Marley decided to give some up and coming emcees a change to shine. While you cant' front on the decision, one has to wonder how "Re-Entry" would have turned out if he would have reunited with some of his previous partners, especially the Juice Crew.
Nevertheless, "Re Entry" is still a solid album, and while not the finest in the beat generation series, it is definitely great to see Marley back in the game. The production is top notch, which helps most of the emcees featured on the album rise over the top. In retrospect, Marley Marl still to this day does not get the credit he deserves. The man changed the position of producer and made people look at who was behind the track instead of just the emcee. Where would Hip Hop be today without Marley? He truly fathered every producer's style from Premier to Dre. They all owe a debt of gratitude for what Marley has helped set up for them. Overall, if you're a fiend for great production and a classic showcase of Hip-Hop at its finest form, "Re Entry" definitely is for you. With "Re Entry" Marley proves he really hasn't gone anywhere, and is still one of the greatest in the game.