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Mark James
Background information
Born October, 1961
Origin Bronx New York
United States
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Producer, Singer
Instruments Turntable
Sampler
Labels Tuff City Records

DJ Mark the 45 King (born Mark James), also known as the 45 King, started DJing in New Jersey in the mid-1980s. The nickname "the 45 King" comes from his ability to make beats using obscure 45 RPM records.

The 45 King first gained fame with his breakbeat track "The 900 Number" in 1987. The song featured a looping tenor sax solo from Marva Whitney's "Unwind Yourself." The 45 King signed with Tuff City Records that year and given a production deal. "The 900 Number" remains his signature work, having been resampled by many artists. He was also featured on the 1989-Hustlers Convention album on the UK label Music of Life, which is considered by many to be hip-hop's first-ever live album.

Using his popularity from the previous release, the 45 King was able to help the other members of his crew, dubbed the Flavor Unit. The Flavor Unit included many well known hip-hop acts including Black Sheep, Lakim Shabazz, Naughty by Nature, and Queen Latifah. The 45 King's big break came when Flavor Unit member Queen Latifah was signed to Tommy Boy Records in 1989 (at the time home of De La Soul and Stetsasonic) and released the album All Hail the Queen. The 45 King did extensive production on this album and it is considered by critics to be among the 45 King's best production work. Over the next few years many other Flavor Unit members also were signed to Tommy Boy and the 45 King frequently contributed to their albums with his productions.

In the early 1990s drug addiction took its toll on the 45 King's career which caused him to lose a production deal that he signed with Warner Bros. Records. Around this time the 45 King released multiple series of breakbeat records (the Lost Breakbeat series, the Breakapalooza series, etc.) and a few tracks for other MCs, but stayed mainly with his breakbeat record franchises.

In July 1990 Manchester-born DJ Chad Jackson sampled "The 900 Number" on his single "Hear the Drummer (Get Wicked)", which reached #3 in the UK Charts. A remixed version was also a minor UK hit in 2007. Jackson was apparently unaware that the song had itself been sampled from the original "Unwind Yourself" as he creditted himself and King as co-writers of "Hear the Drummer (Get Wicked)".

In 1996 Washington, D.C. based Go-go DJ DJ Kool scored a big hit with the song "Let Me Clear My Throat." It was simply call-and-response vocals over a chopped half of the "900 Number" beat, but it was popular nationwide. DJ Kool did not just sample the track, he acknowledged the 45 King's as the song's originator, and the 45 King even remixed the track for Kool.

In 1998 the 45 King produced "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" for Jay-Z. The song was a hit that featured a looped chorus from the Broadway Musical Annie. In 2000, he produced the platinum track "Stan" for Eminem, solidifying his reputation as a celebrated hip-hop producer.

Currently the 45 King is supposedly working on a solo project, a compilation of emcees over his beats.

Partial discography

  • 1984 Funky Beats '84 - The 45 King's very first release, a 7-inch single with a live drumbreak.
  • 1987 The 900 Number EP (Tuff City) The 45 King's breakthrough single, it has the original 900 Anthem with raps by Lakim Shabazz, a 45 King remix, and three Ced Gee (of Ultramagnetic MC's fame) remixes.
  • 1989 Master of the Game (Tuff City)
  • 1989 The King is Here (12" Single) (Tuff City) - Has rapping by Markey Fresh. This has a different version of "The King is Here" than appears on the "Master of the Game" LP.
  • 1989 Red, Black, and Green (12" Single) (Tuff City) - Features rap by Lakim Shabazz.
  • 1989 When a Wise Man Speaks/Catching a 'Tude/Rocking With Tony H (12" Single) (Tuff City)
  • 1990 45 Kingdom (Tuff City) - This is a partial "best of" the 45 King, consisting of material from his first two albums along with old classics like "The 900 Number" and "When A Wise Man Speaks."
  • 1990 Rhythmical Madness (Tuff City) - The 45 King collaborated with DJ Louie Louie to make a nice breakbeat album. Rappers Lakim Shabazz and Ron Delite also appear on the LP.
  • 1990 The 45 King presents The Flavor Unit (Tuff City)
  • Lakim Shabazz: Pure Righteousness (Tuff City)
  • 1990 The 45 King: The Lost Breakbeats: The White Album (Tuff City)
  • 1990 The 45 King: The Lost Breakbeats: The Orange Album (Tuff City)
  • 1992 The 45 King: The 900 Number EP (Tuff City)
  • 1995 The 45 King: Killer Beets (Music Station)
  • 1996 The 45 King: Grooves for a Quiet Storm (Tuff City)
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