Marley Marl

Re-Entry

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At 39 years of age, veteran rap producer Marley Marl's return to recording came as part of the London-based BBE (Barely Breaking Even) label's Beat Generation series. The series was an attempt to reclaim hip-hop from the clutches of overexposure. While Marl hadn't really recorded a true full-length album since his In Control, Vol. 2 in 1991, he remained a fixture in the hip-hop community (and influence on producers like Pete Rock and Jay Dee), producing tracks throughout the '90s for artists such as Capone-N-Noreaga, Rakim, and K Def & Larry O. Marl was directly responsible for putting together the Juice Crew, one of hip-hop's all-time elite teams that included the likes of Roxanne Shante, MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace, and Biz Markie. The Juice Crew's late-'80s battle for rap supremacy with KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions remains one of the most compelling legends of rap lore. Re-Entry's against-the-grain format just might have won over a few young undergrounders, but it is not extraordinary by any stretch. One would have thought that a super-producer of Marl's caliber would fetch a number of name MCs; this is unfortunately not the case, with the exception of Big Daddy Kane, Capone, and a couple of talented undergrounders. Some of the old Marl magic does resurface on the thuggish "What U Hold Down," and the maestro even branches out on the jazz-funk exploration "Hummin'," which features hip-hop forefather Roy Ayers. Many of the cuts here are just instrumentals that surely smack of filler, but Re-Entry certainly has its moments -- moments that might just have some listeners reminiscing back to the Juice Crew era.

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