How does one go from hating Baltimore club music to becoming the City Paper’s choice for Best Club Music Producer of 2010? Just ask Murder Mark. As a hip-hopper from the jump, Murder Mark, aka Marquis Gasque, was more used to a certain type of flow and spoken word you normally hear in standard hip-hop. Some of his favorites were Biggie, Lupe Fiasco, and Kanye West. He appreciated their unique types of flow, whereas he thought the styling of Baltimore club was merely just noise. Cut to a few years later when he took a challenge to produce Baltimore club and the rest was history. Turns out he’s got a knack for creating something he never liked in the first place. How ‘bout that?
But you can’t make great Baltimore club music without a vast understanding of it. So after a doing ton of research ranging from just being in the scene, kickin’ it with true Baltimore club heads, and listening to an endless loop of 92Q Jams from DJs like K-Swift and K.W. Griff, Murder Mark turned his hatred into skill in no time. Look at him now, ayy!
Tear Shit Up by AyoMurderMark1
He’s been praised for his old school-meets-new school mentality – more specifically, the way he uses a unique style of synths, almost like hyperactive techno at times, layered behind original, chopped and looped vocals, an old school element of Baltimore club that some producers have since replaced with Lil Jon loops. What inspired the City Paper to award Murder Mark the title of Best Producer of 2010 was his signature sound being “an absolutely horrifying buzz of synthesizers—like the sound of club’s youth scene attacked by bees—rubbing up against a surprisingly traditionalist sense of sample-chopping and looping.” Murder Mark knows what old school Baltimore club music should sound like, but this is 2011 and he also knows the movement needs to keep moving with the times.
His most notable release to date is his Party Starter EP, which features his original beats behind original vocals by Mike Mike and TT the Artist. Showcasing twelve songs of pure Baltimore club adrenaline, the Party Starter EP is just as it aspires to be – that one joint you play when you’re getting ready to go out, pre-gaming with your friends, or on your way to the club. With grimy, hyperactive tracks like “Cherry Hill and Down Ya Block” and“In My Hood”, it’s the perfect mix to play when you’re looking for the right energy to begin your night – an essential weekend jump-off.
In addition to creating club music on the regular, he’s also an innovator of Zoo On Mars Entertainment, or Z.O.M.E. for short, which is an artist’s collaboration between Murder Mark, TT the Artist, Mike-Mike, D.O.L.L.A.S., K.S., and Doug. Keep a look out for Z.O.M.E. as they’re promoting and booking various artists and gigs in the area. Also, Murder Mark is learning how to DJ so perhaps you’ll see him behind the decks a little sooner than you expected.
I had a chance to talk to Murder Mark recently. Here’s what he had to say about the state of Baltimore club, working with Mike Mike, and where you can find him when he’s not in the studio:
CB: There’s this grimy, in-your-face element to a lot of your tracks. Who are some of your influences?
MM: My main influences are environments and feelings. Sometimes when I get off of work I just feel frustrated and angry. I want to take it out on someone, lls. When it comes to actual producers, I’m influenced by Timbaland, Pharrell (especially his work with The Clipse), Kanye [West], Outkast…all the top names. Bmore Club Producers…King Tutt, Blaqstarr, Samir, K-Spin, and Say Wut.
CB: It seems like you’re always cookin’ up some fresh tracks in the studio. What was your creative process like for the Party Starter EP and what was it like working with Mike Mike?
MM: Well I always like to use original vocals in a club track when I can. Mike-Mike has been my go to guy for vocals on plenty of 92Q hits. I wanted to make a Bmore Club EP that blends club music with club music songs. All I really did was make the beats and have Mike-Mike say catchy phrases that fit the feel of the beat, then enhance the beat once I had the vocals. I threw a couple fledged songs on there for good measure with the typical verse hook-verse-hook formula as well.
CB: Mike Mike and TT The Artist are featured on many of your tracks. Who are some other artists that you really want to work with?
MM: I would really would want to work with Outkast, Lupe Fiasco, J.Cole, and Kanye West. As you can tell I’m a hip-hop head.
CB: What do you consider to be one of your greatest accomplishments so far?
MM: My Show In Greensboro with DJ Pierre and James Nasty. Getting my music on 92Q. 2010 Best Bmore Club Producer Award by the City Paper.
CB: What can we expect from Murder Mark for the remainder of 2011? Any hints on what you’re working on now?
MM: I’m working on this “She Rockin” project with TT The Artist and this joint is gonna be crazy. Expect to see Murder Mark on tour this summer. This project might take Bmore Club Music to new heights. It might flop, but I hope not. TT is working on a documentary loosely based on Bmore Club Music that I’m gonna be a part of. This film is gonna be huge as well.
CB: Where are we most likely to run into you in Baltimore? What clubs/parties do you hit when you’re not in the studio?
MM: I used to hit Club One but its closed…I used t hit Sonar but its closed as well, lol (Editor’s Note: Sonar has since reopened its doors since the publication of this interview). But I still do hit the Paradox on Friday Nights probably once or twice a month. DJ Big Nasty in the back chamber spinning some of my hottest joints.
CB: Finally, if you HAD to choose, what would you pick as your favorite Baltimore club track of all time?
MM: …Umm….”Cherry Hill and Down Ya Block”…of course, lol. Sike, naw, that’s a hard question. I would choose “Go Pt. 2” by Say Wut. But it all depends on how I’m feeling. I could change my mind by the time you post this interview.