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RAPPIN' WITH MARKY : 'The Fame Can Be a Headache at Times, You Know'

March 12, 1992|JIM WASHBURN | Jim Washburn is a free-lance writer who regularly writes for The Times Orange County Edition.

At age 20, Marky Mark (a.k.a. Mark Wahlberg) has a lot going for him--like a debut single, "Good Vibrations," that went gold, leading to a 1.5-million-selling album, "Music for the People."

During a phone interview from a Louisiana concert venue last week, Wahlberg was interrupted several times by a tour manager, worried that his young charge would be unable to make it through the crowds filing into the arena.

Along with older hip-hop aficionados, his fandom does indeed include the breed of avid young teen that also mobs his brother Donnie's group, the New Kids on the Block. They go for his music: solidly constructed dance grooves--produced by brother Donnie--and PG raps. They go for his scowling baby face and hunked-out torso. They go for his undershorts, sometimes all he performs in, signed copies of which are sold at concession booths at his concerts.

Wahlberg's been doing hip-hop for the last eight years and was an original pre-fame member of the New Kids (he left because their lightweight music didn't suit him). Before "Good Vibrations" hit last year he'd been earning his keep as a bricklayer's apprentice. He's not exactly bowled over by his new-found fame, one reason being that he's seen his brother go through the life-sized-kissable-pinup routine already.

"Yeah, I saw everything my brother and the Kids had to go through, but I was just interested in the musical thing," he said in a sleepy, not-painfully Bostonian voice. "People relating to my music and all is cool, but the fame can be a headache at times, you know, having a lack of freedom and free time. I'm just really glad that people are responding to my music."

While the success of "Music for the People" may have cramped Mark's freedom, he thinks that making the album was a route to freedom for brother Donnie, who has at times bucked at the limitations of the mass-marketed New Kids.

"That's kind of obvious, you know what I mean? That stems from why I left the Kids. He's very versatile. He's into hip-hop heavily, but he's also, you know, into different styles of music. It was definitely another way for him to express his talents and show people he has other talents in other fields, such as producing and stuff like that. He really got a chance to show what he can do."

There's a lyric in "I Need Money" that goes, "My brother's a millionaire and he don't even share/For all he cares I could be on the welfare." Mark hopes everyone realizes that's a joke.

"He produced the record, c'mon now. It's a comical record, you know."

The brothers grew up amid a family of nine in the working-class Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Though Donnie bought a new house for the family after the Kids hit it big, Mark said family members didn't try to mooch off Donnie's success.

While the New Kids were striking it rich, Mark dropped out of high school and had a series of minor run-ins with the law. When Mark was ready to launch his career, though, Donnie was there to help him.

The two often write together (they're well into work on a second album) in a process Mark attempted to describe, though he was clearly distracted by a simultaneous attempt to hit the world record for the most "you knows" in a single statement:

"We're clashing heads all the time talking about different ideas, you know. It may be something I might like, you know, or an idea that I might have, you know what I mean? Just run it by him or vice versa, you know what I mean? Or talk about different things, you know. There's a lot of times, you know, we'll just sit down and talk about, you know, or how do we want to come across, you know, how would you feel about doing a song like this, you know, a deep record, you know, put my faith into talking about this, you know, or that, you know. There's a lot of different ways you go about it, you know. You might, you know, like I'm doing my own thing right now and he's been on the road with the Kids for a while, you know, so we've just been clashing ideas over the phone and I've been, you know, just working on a lot of different stuff on my own, you know, just little rough productions and stuff."

Meanwhile note, by contrast, the clear, succinct grammar of the Geto Boys' Bushwick Bill, as he recently explained to the Source magazine how he got his glass eye and "gun powder on the brain":

"I started out that day drinking Everclear. Then my homeboy came over to the crib and he had me a big ol' bottle of E&J, was slammin' that. . . . And then I told my girl to shoot me and she didn't want to do it. So, I had to threaten her, I had to shoot at her first, while she was holding the baby."

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