Marc Live Interview
By Gentle Jones
Marc Live started his rap career in 1990 with his group Raw Breed, who landed their first record deal for $75,000 with the help of KRS One. Since then Marc has been the ultimate industry insider, touring constantly with his cousin, Kool Kieth, and his close friend Ice-T, supporting both legends on stage as a hype man, as well as on wax as a producer, heading projects such as Analog Brothers and Black Elvis. Seven records deep as a solo artist, Marc Live's newest album Episode III: The Revenge of Marc Rippin is currently available worldwide.
Allhiphop.com: Raw Breed was a big deal in the 1990's, how did the major labels view the group?
Marc Live: When got signed to Warner Brothers, we got $450,000 dollars. From '95 to '99 major labels were giving out big budgets. They loved us at Warner Brothers. We got signed the same day we played Howie T the demo at 11 o' clock in the morning and he loved it, but said he wanted Denise Brown, the president, to listen to it so we went to Popeye's Chicken on Hollywood Boulevard and by the time we got home on Arnez Drive and Sunset they called and said, “Who's your lawyer?” and they signed us that same day.
My group Raw Breed was the first rap group signed to SESAC publishing, in 1992. In '93 we got the SESAC award for the most radio plays that year. We were naive, we didn't know what the fuck that meant. I didn't know how to capitalize on it or anything. My producer went to Nashville to get the award and I hung the plaque up on my wall but I didn't know.
When I went to London with Keith on the public enemy tour in 1998 we would go to radio stations they would have all my records and I was shocked.
Allhiphop.com: How did the Analog Brothers record come about with you, Kool Keith, and Ice T?
Marc Live: Analog Brothers happened when I was in LA. When I moved out to LA adopting the LA lifestyle. I started smoking pot, I started drinking, going out, dating white girls that lived in Venice Beach who went barefoot and listened to the Doors. I met one of Ice's buddies Pimpin Rex, he was a musician and he helped produce the first Body Count album, and we became good friends. He had this garage all full of vintage keyboards, he a had Moog, 808 drum kit, SP-1200, and he would pick me up from Hollywood every morning at around 11 o' clock, we'd smoke our first blunt, go get some Mexican food. We go to his garage, he lived in the hood, and we'd make beats. There was a white boy named Dan who had an extensive record collection, a bunch of old breaks, and he would bring crates over and we would sample them.
Whenever I was working on a project everybody always wanted to know what I was doing. I just had that knack. So Keith was like “What are you working on with Rex?” Ice was like, “What are you guys working on?” I told them right now we were just working on beats, working on ideas, but I'll let you know when we finish. And then Keith was like, “Yo I want to come over with my keyboard,” so Keith came over with his Korg. We started using the keyboards and making this sound, and Keith was like “We should go over to Ice's house,” cause Ice had like the MTV Cribs house with the roof that opened up with a studio, and Keith said, “We should do a group together and call it Analog Brothers.” Keith came up with the name. So we got Ice involved, we got my homie Black Silver involved, and Rex Roland did all the singing, and I programed all the beats, all the drums, on the SP 1200, all the sampling and everything. We all went to Ice's house and recorded the album in 4 days.
Allhiphop.com: I've noticed Keith coming into his own with production over that past several years.
Marc Live: Keith was always working with tracks, doing his own private stuff. Keith was always into records. He was the one who brought the beat for Ego Trippin to Ced to sample. All the hit records that Ultramagnetic had, Keith brought the records to Ced to use.
Allhiphop.com: I have the KHM record with “Copy If You Want To” where you and Keith are dissing Andre 3000, what was that about?
Marc Live: Keith felt Andre kind of took his image and didn't give him props for it, and didn't like the fact that the world thought Andre came out with the wigs, and that was his thing. So he was kind of pissed off. He was mad that he wasn't getting the press that they were getting.
Allhiphop.com: So after Analog Brothers came to an end what did you do?
Marc Live: After that my next big project was Keith's album, Black Elvis. That's when I learned the mpc and keyboards, that's when I got nasty, that's when I was lethal. I became a prodigy, I made beats in 5 minutes, like overnight I was ill.
I did two tracks on Dr. Dooom, also before we would go on the road I would program all the beats for the freestyles. I did The Clayborne Family, Guerrilla Black was on that record.
Allhiphop.com: Wow, I didn't know you worked with Guerrilla Black.
Marc Live: I helped Guerrilla Black. I used to help him rap, help him with his technique and stuff. My best friend managed him and we would smoke weed together every day and I'd give him techniques. He used to be skinny. When I was hearing his demos I loved his lyrical content. I didn't think when he came out people would diss him, I loved him.
Allhiphop.com: So where were you doing all your writing when you lived out west?
Marc Live: We did it at Keith's house. Back then we lived music, we all lived in Hollywood, I lived down the street. I'd go to his house, his assistant would pick me up in a cab in the morning. I'd go to Keith's house, he would give me two big buds of weed, he'd go back in his room, close the door, I'd roll the weed, I'd start smoking, I'd start programming. About two hours later I'd have the place rocking and he would come out with his keyboard and we'd make the beats. Then we'd go in the studio that night and we'd lay it. Keith could write ten songs in one day. One-take Jake.
Allhiphop.com: What did you fellas do after a day of writing and recording?
Marc Live: Keith would go out to Hollywood Boulevard and buy porno magazines and hang out with pimps and shit. He was into the dark Hollywood at night. He would transform and be in his dark world. You'd go to his house and there'd be pimps, and hoes, and weird people around at night.
But I had a lot of Hollywood friends, I went to school with Terrence Howard, he was my best friend, I use to read lines with him, Donald Faison was my best friend, Dash Mihok, Tara Reid was my home girl. I'd hang out in mansions at night. After recording, when Keith would go into his eccentric world and do his weird shit at night, I would be in the Hollywood Hills with super stars.
Allhiphop.com: Were you touring with Keith as his hype man at this time?
Marc Live: We were constantly touring. We were the headliners on Warp Tour. We did day and night gigs. There'd be like 8 or 9 people with us. Tour was funny because the first two weeks of tour everyone loved each other. The last four weeks it was like fights, and conspiracy theories, and you stole my girl, you're hiding my girl in your bunk, someone stole my weed, I'm missing a t-shirt. Tour was crazy.
I would come home from tour with $45,000. we'd all stop in Philly on the way home and get jewelry and chains and diamonds and shit. I'd be flying chicks in to the tour bus from Europe. We had fun. We did it big.
Allhiphop.com: Do you have any tour stories with Ice?
Marc Live: I remember Eminem was getting booed and they were throwing soda cans at him every night on Warp Tour '99 and he was gonna leave the tour.
Allhiphop.com: Wasn't this after he was signed to Dre and famous already?
Marc Live: This was Slim Shady! He was platinum, he was big! He came on our bus, him and Proof. He said “Ice, I look up to you, you started me rapping. You inspired me to rap. I need help.” Ice took him off the bus, walked him between buses, and talked to him for two fucking hours. The next day Eminem was a different emcee, his stage show went to a whole nother level and he never looked back. Ice T changed Eminem's fucking life. If Ice didn't show Eminem how to perform, he would never have been as successful as he is today. Ice told him how to do a show. He was getting booed every day.
Em was going onstage and doing 30 minutes, wasn't addressing the crowd, had no stage persona. Him and Proof didn't look at the crowd, they looked at each other. They ran through their set, they never stopped. They never told the crowd to put their hands up, never told them to say “Ho” they never thanked the other bands, they just did their show. And Ice said to stop after every song. Say what's up to the crowd. Thank them for being there. Tell them to say “Ho” and do crowd response. He showed him how to be an emcee, how to do a real hip-hop emcee show.
And after that, the next day he played Miami, it was a wrap. That motherfucker, I was like “Oh shit!” He was destroying shit. Before that he was getting hit in the head with Pepsi cans everyday.
Allhiphop.com: Why did the group Analog Brothers fall apart?
Marc Live: Rex, that was his group, that was his baby. Rex was not getting credit for stuff he had done in the past, he helped on a lot of the Body Count stuff, Rex was on Pusher man on Ice-T's album, so he was a guy that felt jilted his whole life, musically. When the Analog Brothers record came out he lost his mind. He put the masters in a suitcase that he made us all sign. And he drove around with the album like it was a kid, in the front seat. He just lost his mind. We did a digital download for $50,000 and he didn't want to give Ice any money, he felt Ice is rich already. Then I went on tour, I was living with a girl in the Hills at the time, he told the girl I was cheating on her, and that I was doing all types of crazy shit, fucked the relationship up. He signed a deal and tried to take all the credit for the record. Tried to take all the money. And he was my best friend, I loved that motherfucker. And he stabbed me in the back, stabbed us in the back. We were getting offers for shows, Rick Rubin was interested. That was something we could have been touring on to this day. The way that record came together was magic. When the magic was over, we all walked away and said Rex handle the business side now, we trust you. And he spazzed. Its fucked up but it happens all the time. Welcome to the music business.
I did a record called Project X with Kool Keith and Tim Dog (of the Ultramagnetic MCs), we did the video, we did tours in Australia, and had 20 dates in the states, but Tim spazzed out, he lost it. He saw his career coming back, he saw it as an opportunity to exploit what we were doing. And he spazzed out. We were like, dude its here, we brought it, enjoy. We're your friends, don't fuck your friends. Don't go into my wallet while I'm sleeping and take $20 out and then the next morning be trying to look for the $20 with me when its in your back pocket. Don't play me.
Allhiphop.com: What's next for you?
Marc Live: Now I'm trying to do my own thing with my label Rap Legends. At the end of the day with Rap Legends all I want to do is put out good music and let the people find it. We are looking to do a record with Melle Mel, something with Grandmaster Caz. Looking to do something with Kurtis Blow. I got my group The Faculty. Billy Ray is being produced by Maceo of De La Soul, the kid is crazy. My latest album Episode III is out now everywhere. The theme of this record is basically the Revenge of Mark Rippin and a return to my old character from Raw Breed, raw lyrics, raw beats, more street level and less alternative. I wanted to bring it back to that time period.