DJ Mark the 45 King, who produced or co-produced such hip-hop classics as Eminem’s “Stan,” Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” and early Queen Latifah hits like “Wrath of My Madness” and “Ladies First,” has died, a rep confirms to Variety. No cause of death was cited; he was 62.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved Mentor DJ Mark the 45 King!,” Latifah said in a statement. “He believed in me before anyone else. He touched every life he encountered. I’ve never met someone like him; he wanted everyone around him to win. His spirit was magic and will certainly live forever.”
Legendary hip-hop producer and Gang Starr member DJ Premier wrote on Instagram, “His sound was unlike any other, from his heavy drums, and his horns were so distinct on every production.”
Born Mark Howard James in 1961 in the New York City borough of the Bronx, Mark began DJing in the 1980s and acquired his stage name from his use of obscure 7” singles. He signed a production deal with Tuff City Records and used his status to advance the careers of his expanded crew, known as the Flavor Unit, of which Latifah, along with Chill Rob G, Apache and others, were members. Her breakthrough and his both took place with her debut album, “All Hail the Queen,” released on the hip-hop powerhouse Tommy Boy Records in 1989. The label released music by several other Flavor Unit members, much of it produced by Mark; he even had a hit single in the U.K. under his own name, “The 900 Number,” which was later used as the basis for DJ Kool’s 1996 song “Let Me Clear My Throat.”
While Mark struggled with substance abuse in the 1990s, by the end of the decade he’d reached new peaks, producing Jay-Z’s smash “Hard Knock Life” in 1998 and Eminem’s culture-shifting multiplatinum hit “Stan” two years later. The song not only launched a term for unhealthy super-fandom, it became a defining moment for tolerance when Eminem, who had been saddled with unfair accusations of homophobia, performed the song with Elton John at the Grammy Awards in 2001; it remains arguably the rapper’s most memorable and influential song.
In January 2014, he discussed his health in a YouTube video and how he had suffered from a heart attack. At the time, he was a smoker, and was taking medications to recover from the incident. Two years ago, he made his acting debut in “6:45,” a horror film directed by Craig Singer. The movie also featured rapper Remy Ma in a supporting role.
Mark’s discography also includes productions for Rakim, MC Lyte, Craig Mack and remixes for Madonna, Public Enemy, Lisa Stansfield, Salt-N-Pepa, Eric B. & Rakim, Gang Starr and many others.
Courtesy Variety Magazine