The Story Of "The Symphony" - The Template For The Modern Day Posse Cut

The Story Of "The Symphony" - The Template For The Modern Day Posse Cut

Published Tue, March 21, 2023 at 3:42 PM EDT

The "Posse Cut" - a song with three or more MC's from different groups has existed in recorded rap music since its earliest days.

Early 1980's songs like "Showdown" featuring The Furious 5 and The Sugar Hill Gang, "The New Rap Language" featuring The Treacherous 3 and Spoonie Gee and "Rappers Reprise" featuring The Sequence and The Sugar Hill Gang were all extremely well received, partly because fans could hear their favorite groups interacting on the same songs. Those songs were feel-good party songs and very early confirmation that rap collaborations could bear fruit.

In 1984, Profile records assembled their in-house producer Pumpkin, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde (featuring a young Andre Harrell), The Disco 4, The Fresh 3 MCs, Scratch On Galaxy, and singer Fly Ty-Rone as Pumpkin And The Profile All-Stars. The result of that union, "Here Comes That Beat," modernized the posse cut, taking the subject matter from partying and having a good time to more aggressive braggadocio, and simultaneously serving as a dedication to the late super producer and musician Pumpkin.

In 1985, the movie Krush Groove was released, and its soundtrack featured "Krush Groovin'" (which also appeared in the movie's closing scene). "Krush Groovin'" featured The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, Run-DmC and Sheila E. (The Krush Groove All Stars) all of whom starred in the movie. The combination of so many big-name artists on one song and the momentum from the extremely successful movie proved once more that the posse cut could play a big part in rap recordings. In 1986, Marley Marl performed the scratches on the Eddie F produced "Uptown's Kickin It" which featured Heavy D, Groove B. Chill, Woody Rock, The Brothers Black and Finesse & Synquis. "Uptown's Kickin It" with its popular video, pushed the posse cut even further into the consciousness of rap fans.

I get more attention today for not being on The Symphony than I would have if I had been on it

- MC Shan

When the Juice Crew released "Juice Crew All Stars" in 1987, the bar was raised lyrically for the posse cut and the content felt a little more like a friendly competitive sparring match than a fun display of different rap acts as previous posse cuts did. Roxanne Shantè, MC Shan, Craig G, Tragedy, Glamorous and Kool G. Rap ripped the Marley Marl-produced track increasing the demand for more songs in this vein.

In 1988, the demand was met when Marley released his compilation album In Control Volume 1. The album contained songs by Heavy D, Biz Markie, MC Shan, Roxanne Shantè, Masta Ace, Craig G. and Tragedy. It was "The Symphony" featuring Masta Ace, Craig G, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap that stood out the most on an album that was already considered stellar.

While working on the album and tracks for Big Daddy Kane’s debut album Long Live The Kane, Marley recorded a version of “Raw” with Kane and Kool G. Rap that debuted on New York’s WBLS. The popularity of the song inspired Marley to ask Kane and G. Rap to record a song together after the historic airport photo shoot for the In Control album wrapped up.

Marley suggested that they go to his house and record the song and Queensbridge M.C. Craig G overheard the conversation and asked if he could get on the proposed song. MC Shan told The Foundation that he declined Marley's invite. "I know how Marley works. He says let's go do a song and before you know it the song is released with no paperwork and you don't get paid," he said.

“I was cool with Craig G hoppin’ on because I’d heard him rhyme recently," Big Daddy Kane explained to ROCK THE BELLS. "In fact, I’d just heard 'Duck Alert' and 'Droppin’ Science' and I saw his growth from 'Transformer,' and his earlier stuff."

Cold Chillin' Records co-founder Fly Ty told ROCK THE BELLS Masta Ace didn't go through the same process as other Juice Crew members.

"Masta Ace didn’t go through the process that the other Juice Crew members had to go through. They had to do shows and prove themselves. Ace bypassed that entire process."

Kool G Rap literally rhymed until the tape ran out. His original rhyme was like, six minutes. I didn’t get a chance to rhyme before the tape ran out.

- Big Daddy Kane

According to Masta Ace, his first time meeting most of the other members of the Juice Crew was at the photo shoot for In Control.

“The only reason that I was there that day was because I was already cool with Craig G," he explained. "We were hangin’ out strong back then and he needed a ride, so I gave him a ride to Marley’s. That’s the only reason that I was there. They were all spread out writing their rhymes and Marley asked who was going first. No one wanted to go first, and that’s why Marley says, 'I don’t care who’s first or who’s last.' No one wanted to go first so Marley asked if I had something. I told him that I did. I don’t think that there was ever any intention to keep my rhyme on the song— he just wanted someone to crack the mic first.”

"The Symphony" marked the first time that a group of MCs with such lyrical prowess collaborated on a record. Discussions still take place concerning who had the best rhyme. "The Symphony" gave birth to "4,3,2,1," "Flava In Ya' Ear Remix," "Scenario," "The Last Song," "DWYCK" and so many great collaborations that came after it

Related Posts

Talib Kweli, Masta Ace

Masta Ace: "1988 Is the Best Year for Hip-Hop — the Stars and the Moon Were Aligned"

Mar 14, 2023

Marley Marl's 'In Control, Volume 1' At 35

Sep 20, 2022

MABLETON, GEORGIA - JULY 31: Rapper Big Daddy Kane performs in concert during 2021 Old School Hip Hop Fest at Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre on July 31, 2021 in Mableton, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Big Daddy Kane Performs "Ain't No Half-Steppin'" At New Jack City Stage Play in Downtown L.A.

Jan 23, 2023

What's new