Mark Howard James, the DJ and producer best known as DJ Mark The 45 King, has died. His friend DJ Premier broke the news with a heartfelt tribute today on Instagram. No cause of death was revealed. Mark was 62.
Mark was born in the Bronx in 1961. He rose to prominence as a producer with his oft-sampled 1987 single “The 900 Number.” That year his productions also included early tracks by Gang Starr, which helped bring them to the attention of Premier, their future close collaborator. Mark’s crew the Flavor Unit included acts like Chill Rob G, Lakim Shabazz, Apache, and Queen Latifah, whose 1989 breakthrough All Hail The Queen helped bring Mark further to prominence. In the early ’90s, Latifah took over leadership of the Flavor Crew as Mark struggled with addiction, but his career later bounced back in a big way. His best known beats include two classics hits that became crossover smash hits, Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” and Eminem’s “Stan,” but he also worked with fellow legends like Eric B. & Rakim, MC Lyte, and Common.
If you really want to know about Mark’s life, though, Premier’s tribute is a beautiful place to start. Read that here:
R.I.P. DJ Mark The 45 King who passed this morning. An ICON.
His 62nd Birthday was Monday.
I never heard of Gang Starr until I heard DJ Red Alert play their 2nd single Produced by Mark on 98.7 Kiss in NYC while shopping my demos looking to get a record deal.
Red Alert was playing “Bust A Move Boy” cutting it up crazy and I heard Guru’s voice wondering who the fuck is Gang Starr?
I immediately went and bought the 12inch single to discover the label Wild Pitch Records.
From there my friend Carlos Garza in Houston, TX. told Stu Fine who owned Wild Pitch about me and I connected with them in 1988 when Guru was looking for a new DJ and a permanent Producer.
Mark is responsible for so many classics and was a member of the Iconic Crew FLAVOR UNIT (Queen Latifah, Latee, Chill Rob G., Lakim Shabazz, Double J, Lord Alibaski, DJ Cee Justice, Apache, Naughty By Nature, Freddie Foxxx, Markey Fresh, Rowdy Rahz, Storm P, Shakim and so many more members beyond whom I’ve mentioned please pardon me if I didn’t post your name).
Salute DJ BREAKOUT.
His sound was unlike any other from his heavy drums and his horns were so distinct on every production.
He got a huge Warner Bros. deal and remixed the Classic Madonna single “Keep It Together” and the raw remix of Eric B. & Rakim “I Know You Got Soul”.
The “900 Number” is a Super Classic, Queen Latifah’s “Wrath Of My Madness”, “Ladies First” w/ Monie Love, Chill Rob G’s “Court Is In Session”, Latee “Cuts Got Flavor”, the Historical Jay-Z hit “Hard Knock Life” and Eminem’s “Stan” to name a few of his catalog will forever ring bells.
Beyond that, his vinyl releases of breakebeats are beyond any DJ of the 80’s/90’s Era, practically endless.
Thanks Dave Lotwin (D & D) for Facetiming me Tuesday in the hospital to salute him 1 last time before he transitioned. I know he heard me loud and clear.
Condolences to his brother Mike and his sister.
It’s so much more to say but I’ll leave it here.
Sleep Peacefully Mark thank you for all that you’ve done.
You’re such a special part of our culture that is chiseled in the stone of the greatest parts of us. LOVE YOU MARK
R.I.P. GURU, Apache, Double J, Markey Fresh