“The Symphony” is a song produced by Marley Marl featuring Juice Crew members Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane. The track appears on Marley Marl’s 1988 Cold Chillin’ Records release In Control, Volume 1. Rolling Stone ranked “The Symphony” the 48th greatest Hip Hop song of all time, calling it “the first truly great posse cut.
Marley Marl, who was working as a DJ for radio station WBLS, sampled the song’s signature loop from a station copy of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle“. Marley Marl and his Juice Crew affiliates recorded “The Symphony” in Queens, immediately after posing in front of a Lear Jet for In Control, Volume 1’s back-cover photography. Though this photo bespoke wealth, Marley Marl remembers, “I was still living in the projects. I was paying like $110 a month for my rent, free electricity. So New York City Housing Authority kind of co-produced some of my earlier hits.” According to Masta Ace, Juice Crew member MC Shan was supposed to perform on this hit, but due to his success at the time, he told Marley that “he felt like he was belittling himself to be on a record with these new dudes.” Meanwhile, Masta Ace, who made his recording debut with the song’s opening verse, had not intended to be on the song at all; he only recorded his verse because the other MCs were hesitant to rhyme first.