Hip-Hop has lost another icon way too soon. DJ Mark the 45 King has reportedly passed away. He was 62.
DJ Premier revealed the 45 King’s death via a tribute post on Instagram. “His sound was unlike any other from his heavy drums and his horns were so distinct on every production,” reads part of Premier’s tribute, where he details 45 King’s production on an early Gang Starr single.
Born Mark Howard James in the Bronx, DJ Mark the 45 King made a name for himself crafting classic beats for Queen Latifah, Jay-Z and his own famed breakbeat “The 900 Number.” For Hip-Hop heads of a certain age, you’ll remember “The 900 Number” as the instrumental used by Ed Lover to perform his famed “The Ed Lover Dance” on Yo! MTV Raps. Originally released in 1987, the song caught another resurgence when it was prominently sampled in DJ Kool’s hit “Let Me Clear My Throat” in 1996.
The 45 King was instrumental in bringing Queen Latifah to the masses, producing her debut album, All Hail The Queen on Tommy Boy Records, which was released in 1989. 45 King’s earlier work with the Flavor Unit (Latifah, Chill Rob G, Lakim Shabazz and Apache) and his mastery of sampling quickly made him one of Hip-Hop’s early production wunderkinds.
And showing he was no flash in the pan, in 1998, Mark produced Jay-Z’s Annie-sampling “Hard Knock Life,” a song often credited with turbo-boosting the Brooklyn rapper and mogul’s superstar career. Two years later, he scored another smash producing Eminem’s “Stan.”
Rest in powerful peace DJ Mark the 45 King. We compiled reactions to his passing that are a testament to how immense of a loss his death is to the culture.