Marley Marl’s “The Symphony” is considered by many to be the greatest posse cut in rap history. Juice Crew members Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G. Rap, and Big Daddy Kane pass the mic over the piano loop from Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle.”
Masta Ace provided some background information on the track:
A lot of people don’t know this, but, I wasn’t supposed to be on that record. The original line-up for that record was supposed to be Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, Craig G., MC Shan–a lot of people don’t know that. That whole song was done the same day that we shot the cover for Marley Marl In Control, Volume 1. […] After that photoshoot, Marley collected everybody and he said that he wanted to go to his crib in Astoria, Queens, and do this record, the last record for the album.
Ace said Marley asked him to kick the song off after no one else wanted to go first. Ace also said Marley claimed MC Shan basically felt he was too big to be on the track with some new jacks, but MC Shan would later respond to the claim by saying he didn’t appear on the track due to a financial dispute.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked “The Symphony” as the 48th greatest hip-hop song of all time. Three years later, the four MC’s came back together–along with Little Daddy Shane–for “The Symphony Part II.”
In 2016, the Juice Crew reunited at B.B. King’s in New York City and talked about “The Symphony”: