Prince Markie Dee Interview (by Timid)
A pioneer from back in the day, Prince Markie Dee had major success during his time as one third of the Fat Boys, and later with his solo smash, ‘Typical Reasons (Swing My Way)’. Recently, Timid had a chance to catch up with Markie Dee and find out his thoughts on his past, present, and future…
So what have you been up to lately?
Prince Markie Dee: Lately, I just moved down to Miami. I’m working with a radio station down here 103.5 The Beat. I’m doing some parties down here, getting some different things, just spreading my fingers out seeing what I can touch out here. A lot of different opportunities are coming my way. I’m looking into opening a studio down here. Haven’t been attacking it aggressively, but taking my time sort of like feeling things out a little bit, but that’s my ultimate thing… to probably open a nice facility down here, you know a lot of people in the music business come to Miami now can come down and do some recording. Feel comfortable and do some good music in a good place you know.
Yeah I feel you on that. How’s the New York boy vibing with the Miami scene?
Prince Markie Dee: I love it man, you know it’s a beautiful thing. I love the weather you know I love the whole vibe down here you know. All us New Yorkers come down here to vacation, but I decided to come down here and stay… to come and hang and I had so much fun down here I decided to move permanently.
Alright that sounds good… you got all that sun, and you ain’t got to deal with that snow and stuff from New York.
Prince Markie Dee: Oh yeah I don’t like the snow. I like the snow when it involves snow mobiles. Apart from that I keep away from it.
True, I feel that. You still doing producing and stuff?
Prince Markie Dee: Lightly. I still do a little producing and I still write. I write all the time. Whenever I got a track in my hand I usually have to write something… or even just driving in the car listening to something, I might come up with an idea. I usually think of something out of my head, then when I get somewhere I write it down just to have it. I’m definitely a writer first… so I’m always writing. Producing? As far as doing records, I just told a friend of mine LS1 I’m dying to get in the studio. I’ve been down here for two months and I haven’t been in the studio yet. So I’m dying to get to work. Hopefully soon I’ll be going to see a couple people, going to check out different studios and some stuff.
So does that mean we might have another Markie Dee album coming out?
Prince Markie Dee: Oh as far as me as an artist? Oh yeah definitely. I’m working on a joint right now. I got like about 7 records done. I’m really liking 3 or 4 of them, but what I usually do is go in the studio and I record a whole bunch of records and just pick out the ones that I like, you know? So basically I’m just on a vibe. I go in and I just vibe out. I may like a record one day, but the next record I might be “ah that’s corny I’m not using it”. I’m definitely going to think about putting a record out in the next year, maybe early next year and just bring them something.
You working with anybody on the joints?
Prince Markie Dee: At this point no. Its kinda early right now so I was just gonna go myself and do a record. But once I get into the deep grind Markie Dee album mode, I’m gonna be involved with a lot of different people. All my friends. I’m callin everybody up from Flava so if anybody is reading this HOLLA AT ME!
Right, right that’ll be pretty hot. The last one you dropped was the one that had ‘Typical Reasons’ on it.
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah yeah. ‘Swing My Way’. I had a number one single with that record on Billboard so it was a really good record for me. It was sort of a self proving record because I was a little nervous to see if I could do it without my boys you know and when I did the record it came out it was accepted well by the public it gave me a really good feeling. It gave me the confidence to record another album. People be like, “When you gonna do another record? When you gonna do another record”, so I guess you know those people in particular are the ones that wanted to hear me. I’m definitely going with them in mind.
Yeah a lot of cats from back in the day are re-emerging on the scene and droppin new stuff…
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah a lot of people. I’ve been speaking to a lot of friends of mine you know from back in the day and they are working on a lot of projects you know… whether it be records or films. You know I was speaking to Kool Moe Dee from the Trecherous Three a couple of months ago and he hit me with a script for a movie that he’s working on in Hollywood that he wants me to be in. It’s an excellent movie, and I mean it just shows you that a lot of people they’ve taken their talent and their knowledge on what they’ve learned in the business and they’ve expanded in different areas of entertainment. They used what they learned to advance themselves. It doesn’t necessarily mean because I’m a rapper and I rapped in the 80’s, I gotta rap now. You know for the past 10 years… 10 or 11 years I’ve been producing records and managing producers. I managed a guy, Troy Oliver, who produced a couple hits for Ginuwine. He did ‘Differences’ with Ginuwine. All the Jennifer Lopez big records he produced them all. So I’ve been still in the loop just behind the scenes.
Lets talk about the Fat Boys. You guys were actually the first cats to do a non-hip hop film on your own.
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah actually, yeah we are. Movie just sort of leaped. The movie did alright at the box office. It’s doing a lot better now, especially around Thanksgiving. I get tons of phone calls from people. It’s sort of becoming like a Thanksgiving movie. Every Thanksgiving people are calling me “Your movie’s on, your movie’s on, your movie’s on”. I aged because I was 16 years old in that movie. I looked crazy, but apart from that I appeciate all the love I get.
You were 16 when you did that movie?
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah I was 16 when I did that movie.
What? So how old were ya’ll when ya’ll dropped your first joint?
Prince Markie Dee: 14. I was 14. Buff was 15 and Cool Rock was 16.
Dang! Dang! So you kept in touch with the ol’ people’s Cool Rock?
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah Cool Rock, well you know Buff passed away in ’97. And Cool Rock I don’t speak to him to much. I speak to him every once in awhile. You know I still got love for him. He got love for me… we family still. It’s just that I’m handling my business and he’s handling his business. We haven’t really got a chance to get together to much. But we’re still cool.
Didn’t you work as A&R for a little while?
Prince Markie Dee: I did some consulting. Well I had my own label with Sony, Soul Convention Records. After that we moved over to Motown Records… so I’ve done A&R capacity on my own… you know, for my own situation. I consult for Sony, I consult for a couple different people, for Universal at one point. I also consulted for Def Jam for like 6 months on a project they were working on. So you know I still do that actually til today. Especially since I’ve been down here in Miami. There’s no ace… like there’s no dude, no go-to guy down here for these major labels. When these labels have to come down here to Miami they have to send one of their own people down here. So I’ve been sorta playing like a chaperone to these labels recently. A lot of people been calling me up wanting me to keep my ears open for local Miami talent, or you know, South Florida talent and when I hear something hot I give them a call and put them in contact with them and reach out to them and connect them and see if we can do some business.
What do you look for?
Prince Markie Dee: Talent. Not necessarily one type of music genre… just talent you know? I just got a good ear for picking hits. You know what I mean? A lot of records that are hits are usually records that I like. There were two records I didn’t like that were hits, but you know there’s always one that gets by me. But I just really look for talent you know? I’m really strong on individuals who possess a lot of talent. Not necessarily the song because the songs it’s just a matter of fixing. If it’s an artist that has tons of talent and just has a wack song they still have potential to get with somebody who can write a good song and be successful, so I’m looking for people who can really sing, people… who can really rap… not just gimmicky stuff.
Yeah that kind of seems like the MO of the industry today. They trying to grab the artist who can get the hot single instead of someone who can get longevity.
Prince Markie Dee: Well I think that’s just the way it’s been panning out you know. A lot of people… a lot of artists…you gotta figure too – a lot of A&R people in the music business – I’m gonna say this on the record – a lot of them don’t know music, don’t know a hit if it hit them in the head. A lot of them copy behind what’s hot on the radio. So if for instance a record comes out by 50 Cent everybody’s looking to find the next 50 Cent dude as opposed to looking for something that’s different, you know? Who’s the dude that signed 50 Cent in the first place? Before that 50 and I… I took 50 to 10 labels and every label we went to was to afraid of him because he was too edgy. They were afraid to mess with him… said he’s too dangerous. Like he’s too much of a shotgun kid you know what I mean? They’re kicking themselves in the ass cuz now he sold 6 million records and he’s the biggest star in America right now.
Yeah definitely, definitely. So you was in on the 50 Cent thing then too huh?
Prince Markie Dee: Well what happen was that my partner Corey Rooney who works for Casablanca right now, (Tommy Motola’s new label at Universal)… he’s the guy who executive-produced the Jennifer Lopez stuff and the Mariah Carey stuff. Him and I, we started producing together in the music business. So you know we’re still good friends till this day. And what happened was he came to me one day and he was like “Yo Mark I need you to hear this dude – I’m thinking about signing him.” So we went around and it turned it to be 50 Cent like early in his days right after he was signed to Jam Master Jay’s label and we ended up signing him after that meeting. And so that’s how we got cool… and we became friends and nobody really wanted to work with him too much, because he was so wild you know? They weren’t into just taking a chance on him.
But we were cool and I got a lot of relations from the business so I set up a bunch of meetings. You know we did the meetings and it turned out everybody was afraid, and I actually had somebody cancel on me while we were downstairs… actually call me like, “Yo Mark I can’t do this meeting man. I don’t even want you to bring him up here because he’s too wild”. I’m like “Naw he’s a good dude man… you know he’s cool… you know he’s just expressing himself on how he feels on his records – that doesn’t mean that’s how he’s going to act towards you.” And you know they were afraid. They were afraid to take a chance on him. But you know it’s their loss and now they calling me. Now they want to sign everything I bring to them.
So it’s crazy, but that’s just to show you how the A&R people in this business, they are so afraid of getting fired you know? That’s their whole thing – they think they’re going to get fired if they sign something that’s not successful. But if you sign something that you really feel, you put your heart into it, and you work the record the right way and all the elements add up – you gonna have a hit record regardless.You just got to learn how to babysit the record and ride it out. I mean there’s a lot more to it than just doing a hit record of course. There’s different aspects of the label that have to be on point. You have to make sure the marketing is right… the promotion is right. You have to make sure everybody at the label is on board with the project. I mean you can’t just shun away from the label you gotta make relationships – all those things are important… the key to being successful, especially in the hip-hop and R&B business.
How do you feel hip-hop has moved recently? How do you feel about the state of it today?
Prince Markie Dee: Just firing back at someone with your own insult or just leave it alone. If you can’t do that then you shouldn’t be in this game. That’s what it was about back in the day, it was about battling. Some just used to battle Cold Crush… this one use to battle that one. We use to have battles with Doug E. Fresh constantly. Never came to blows never would. Doug E. is my man until this day. You know I still consider him one of the greatest entertainers of all time. I tell that to him til this day.
Sometimes it does get a little bit out of whack.
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah we need to relax man it’s only music, come on.
You feel any of the true school style cause some of that’s coming back and some of the underground artist are trying to do some stuff like that. Do you think that kind of stuff is going to make it to the radio again?
Prince Markie Dee: As far as underground artist or you mean like the ol’ school type music?
Yeah like you know, none of the violent stuff just having the fun with it.
Prince Markie Dee: Well we were a little violent with it back in the day… you know that was just a part of how you grew up. You know people talk about different things, but it’s just a matter of the overall way of looking at it. When you think about it like, “Stop taking it so serious – ok he’s talking about how you used to sell drugs right, and he’s talking about how he use to shoot niggas and if you come and talk about this dude and if you talk about me in your record I’m gonna beat your ass.”
Come on man – it’s not that serious. Now you can say it – but if you take it serious it’s another way… it’s another thing. You know? That’s when I think the line should be drawn. In other words, say what you want as long as you’re not disrespecting somebody or something really personally… like talking about somebody who has a sickness or something is wrong you know what I mean? Like alright, somebody has cancer – I don’t think it’s good idea to play with him about him having cancer. You know what I mean? Case in point – Tupac talking about Prodigy from Mobb Deep who has Sickle Cell, you know? I don’t think that was a cool move you know what I mean?
Ja-Rule just did that joint and he talked about Em’s daughter and stuff…
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah that’s crazy man… come on! That’s where it gets ridiculous. How you involving a little kid in it? How does that make you look? You know what I mean? Like to me that was kind of funky you know what I mean? And I wouldn’t want to be involved with anybody like that. You know. But on the other hand I don’t think that Eminem should want to go and kill this guy now. You know what I mean? Like it’s not that serious. You know?
So any of the Fat Boys stuff going to be reissued on CD? Cause I know some of the older stuff is still only on vinyl.
Prince Markie Dee: Actually they put out a Best of Fat Boys album called “All Meat No Filler” something like that. Came out a few years ago on CD yeah, and I think they are going to be putting out some more stuff soon, know what I mean?
I know some cats that are looking for the “Big and Beautiful” album and your first joint.
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah I think that’s on CD… like there’s a couple of like uh best of records that got a couple of records for that album on CD. Only thing is, I’ve been getting a lot of people coming up to me… artists that are out now that I see, and they always give me a lot of respect for when I was in it for such a long time. They always tell me they wanna use my old records or to do records with them. I like that I like that – that’s a good look. I was with Raekwon and Ghostface from Wu-Tang about a month ago… I was in the studio hanging out and they was talking about using one of my old records… redoing it and they wanted me to rap on the record with them and everything, and I’m like “Whatever let’s do it. I’m down for anything.”
I’ve still got that album on vinyl, from when I bought it when I was a youngun back then…
Prince Markie Dee: Dang you like a collector huh?
Naw that was just like… I’ve got two things on vinyl only and one is that album and the other is like an old Tone Loc 12-inc, that I had before high school or something like that.
Prince Markie Dee: Damn that’s crazy.
You guys got some classic albums… that’s no doubt.
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah we get overlooked a lot, but I think it’s because we were sort of like… we added comedy to the game. So if you really think about going back to the Fresh Festival Tour, there was two of them. The first Fresh Fest Tour we use to open for everybody. And the second Fresh Fest Tour we switched headliner dates with Run DMC depending on the market we were in so we were bigger in certain markets. You know what I mean? But we never get acknowledged for that… but I mean it’s cool you know. I get the love when people see me. I get the love all the time so that makes up for it. But I think the only thing that bothers me about it is just out of respect for my man that passed away… Buff, you know I think that he deserves his respect – you know it should be acknowledged.
So it must be cool that you still getting the love then?
Prince Markie Dee: Oh yeah I’ve been down here doing… like I told you I work with The Beat 103.5, The Beat Miami, and we do a lot of clubs and appearances and stuff and everywhere I go man… it’s like they go crazy… they show me so much love amd it’s just a beautiful thing.
You miss being on stage and rockin the mic and stuff?
Prince Markie Dee: Um not really. I mean it was fun and everything but I’m older now and I’d rather be on the phone talking business than on the stage. But I’ll still do it for fun, like when we with our boys and we at a club or something I’ll pick up a mic and I’ll go. But you know it’s not like a really big thing I’m missing in my life. I think it just be fun just to try it again you know.
Right definitely, definitely. So are you a DJ down there on the station?
Prince Markie Dee: On air personality.
OK so being around there on the radio, there’s got to be some records that come through there and you just got to shake your head at what’s being passed off.
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah there’s a couple of records that I’m not really sure of, but at the same time, there are a lot of records out there that are bangers.
Right, that’s definitely hot. That’s cool. Anything you want people to know what you gonna do… what’s been up with you?
Prince Markie Dee: Just like I said earlier, reiterated earlier… you know we’re with 103.5 The Beat down here. We’re going to be opening a studio soon in the next year or two… like a major facility, nothing small time. Something major. I’m consulting with a lot of people. You know I’m into helping people who need help in breaking into the music business. A lot of the times the thing that keeps stars from becoming stars are their lack of connections… people they don’t know. And it just so happens I know everybody. So I always have a open head – if you see me on the street you know you can holla at me and yell something off “Yo I do this”. You know I’m always into listening to people and helping people out. You know you can even email me if you want to put my email address on there it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. You know you can email me if you got something you want to send me… email me… we’ll correspond through email. You show a lot of love man – thanks for the years and years of support. Next May 24 will be 20 years in the business for me and I’m having a huge party in Miami. I’m inviting everybody down so I’ll have 20 years under my belt.
Hey man that’s hot. I’ve been seeing a lot of cats from back in the day, I just went to a Black Sheep show, Jungle Brothers show, KRS was through here not to long ago.
Prince Markie Dee: Yeah those dudes… I got love for all those dudes.
Yeah just lovin’ it. We talked to Daddy-O from Stetsasonic not too long ago. You gonna be involved in the new Self Destruction Project?
Prince Markie Dee: No I’m not involved in the project… I’m just saying he was my man from back in the day. I’ve know him for along time.
Yeah cause he’s working on that new joint. He’s going to revive Self Destruction.
Prince Markie Dee: That’s hot.
Alright then, maybe if I’m in that Miami area I’ll try to stop by your birthday bash. I’m up here in Tallahassee.
Prince Markie Dee: Definitely for sure, for sure man definitely feel free to holla at me anytime man anytime you need anything.
Alright cool cool. I appreciate you taking the time.
Thanks again to Prince Markie Dee for taking part, and for Ty Johnston at T.Y. Entertainment for setting this up.