FEATURE: Big Daddy Kane:I Am Legend

When it comes to lyrics, Kane is king! After coming into the game performing alongside Biz Markie, the Juice Crew alum made a name for himself with singles like 1987’s “Raw” and 1988’s “Ain’t No Half-Steppin.” Not only did BDK deliver some of the game’s illest one-liners (“Put a quarter in ya ass, ‘cause you played yourself” and “Girlfriend you’ve been scooped like ice cream”), he also emerged as one of Hip-hop’s earliest sex symbols carving out a female fan base. Earlier this year the Brooklyn MC went on to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the release of his debut Long Live the Kane, XXLMag.com caught up with the “Smooth Operator” for a trip down memory lane.

XXLMag.com: Did you ever imagine that folks would still care about Long Live the Kane 20 years later?

Big Daddy Kane: I absolutely thought people would still care, I wasn’t certain on what level, but I definitely thought people would care.

XXL: That’s the one album that the people point to as their favorite Kane album, but what is your favorite Kane album?

BDK: Nah my second album is probably my favorite, It’s A Big Daddy Thing. I just thought it was a more complete album, more universal. It had a lot of my favorite stuff on it like “Young, Gifted and Black,” “Mortal Combat” and “Smooth Operator.”

XXL: Does it bother you that you took flack for mixing Rap with R&B? Now it’s expected for our biggest Hip-hop artists?

BDK: You had other cats that did that, mixing R&B in their music. LL had “I Need Love.” Heavy D, that was pretty much most of his career, Father MC. So it was something that a lot of artists did. I just think it was because I was known as a lyricist that’s what people only wanted to hear that from me. If you’re an artist you have to expand, you have to grow.

XXL: Artists like Kanye West and Lil Wayne are stretching the boundaries, what’s your take on that?

BDK: I don’t see why not. To me it’s all about expression. If someone is coming at you with something that you can feel, then I don’t see what the problem is. A lot of the stuff that Wayne does is not stuff that I grew up recognizing as Hip-hop, but I can’t say that it’s not. As far as the musical roots of it, it comes from everything. So if cats wanna try different things, I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

XXL: Who are some of the newer cats that you like?

BDK: I like Ludacris; I think that he’s a complete artist. I think that he makes great records; I think that he is a great lyricist and at the same time I think he knows how to have fun. It ain’t just about having a screw face and trying to be tough, dude likes to do a lot of silly shit in his videos and he has fun. And he has an image, when you see him he’s fly.

XXL: How did it feel for you to be on Busta’s “Don’t Touch Me “ Remix with the likes of Nas, The Game and Lil Wayne?

BDK: I was happy to be a part of it… When I heard the overall thing I was like, “Ok this is where I wanna be,” because a lot of people feel like Lil Wayne is the best MC out, so if this is how you feel, then yeah that’s who I wanna be on a song with. So you can judge for yourself.

XXL: Back when KRS was getting at MC Shan, Roxanne Shante and the rest of the Juice Crew, why didn’t you step in? Why didn’t Kool G Rap, Craig G or Master Ace get involved?

BDK: Well Ace wasn’t in the picture yet and I wasn’t really even in the picture yet. At that point in time I was a newcomer, I was just coming in. “The Bridge is Over” is like what, 86? I didn’t come out until 1987. In ’86 when Biz Markie came out with “Make the Music” and he started bringing me on the road, Shan had a problem with that he didn’t like that. And we would do shows with BDP… KRS saw me rhyming with Biz, and he would always speak to me and say wassup and we would kick it.

XXL: So you were cool with Kris?

BDK: One time we had got booked for a show in Canada. It was Biz, Cutmaster DC [and] Boogie Down Productions. We get there and find out that it’s not a show, they had this thing billed as a battle and we had to battle some Canadian rappers. My mentality was like shit let’s do it and that’s what happened. Biz battled a Canadian beat box, BDP battled a Canadian rap group and KRS battled two dudes by himself. And then they had a solo rapper and KRS said “Ima battle him too.” I was like, “No, no, no, I got this one.” I didn’t have a record out, nobody knew who I was. Once Kris heard me rhyme for real, that’s when he was like “Yo dog, you’re nice.” Then he bought me a Heineken at the bar, we chopped it up and became friends. When I moved out of my mother’s house, him and Ms. Melody helped me move my furniture. Therefore while this beef with him and Shan is going on, Shan couldn’t come to me for help because Kris was my man, plus Shan acted funky in the beginning towards me… Now, [Kool G Rap] was down then, but I don’t know the whole deal about that situation.

XXL: Were you and Rakim really set to battle back in the day?

BDK: Nah that was just something that people wanted to see, but it wasn’t nothing like that. We never got into it. The closest might’ve been with Rap Mania, because after the success of Rap Mania the guy who put it together, Van Silk he had the idea to do the rap battles… But it didn’t happen.

XXL: Have you ever imagined what would’ve happen if the battle actually went down?

BDK: Nah, I wouldn’t have to imagine. I know what would happen.

XXL: Oh word? What would happen?

BDK: [Laughs]. Yeah iight!

XXL: What’s next for you? Is there another album?

BDK: That’s always a possibility. We’ll see what the future holds. There are some talks in the making right now; I’m just trying to get things assembled right now. Other than that I love being on the road and what I truly wanna do is get more on the acting side of things. I was in a DVD that came out in October, a romantic comedy called Love For Sale. – Rob Markman

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Arcey

    XXL: How did it feel for you to be on Busta’s “Don’t Touch Me “ Remix with the likes of Nas, The Game and Lil Wayne?

    BDK: I was happy to be apart of it…
    - A PART… that’s what he meant (I’m pretty sure)

    ya’ll job is to write all day, check yourself!

  • Arcey

    Still, it’s cool (to me) to hear about BDK

    BTW: MC Shan was a shady ass nigga… he thought he was better than everybody in Juice Crew – check out the Dana Dane/Masta Ace interview about “The Symphony”… insecure motherfucker

  • Vicious Seiger

    Big Daddy Kane is still one of the best who ever did it. Even though some of his later albums weren’t as spectacular as his first three. I still pump It’s A Big Daddy Thing to this Very day esp. “Pimpin ain’t Easy”,”Calling Mr. Welfare”, Big Daddy Theme” to tell the truth there wasn’t much on that album I didn’t like. XXL you’ve finally done a interview with somebody other than the usual top 200 suspects. Maybe you should have a section called Pioneers, Rebels & Icons… just a suggestion from a fan of hip hop’s golden age. Once again good work XXL.

  • Mr.D

    Kane is still top 5. All day everyday. 5000

  • RL

    Time to start some trouble……… as good as Jay-Z is

    Compared to BDK, Jay is not the GOAT
    Compared to Kool G, Jay is not the GOAT
    Compared to Rakim, JAY is not the GOAT

    These artists were architects of the game, Jay is just a student. Peace.

    • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack


      • K.i. Assasin

        Come on homie, I can’t understand why dudes try to throw dirt on Jay-Z first off homie paid his dues not only that he pays homage to the pioneers wtf more do you want? One thing ya need to understand about rap is that it’s a form of “self expression” at for real niggas every body may not feel Jay and that’s cool but you gotta respect him from Marcy to Hollywood and still keeps it hood don’t hate cuz dude got his grown man on and still could dig in all these newcomers ass so beat it!

        • Moi

          Jay has paid homage to Kane and G Rap in lyrics and videos. He took Kane’s metaphors and word play and brought it to a new level or at least into the modern era and was influenced by G Rap’s street persona, and the way G combined that with lyricism. There’s a difference between jacking and influence. if anything, Biggie might have outright bit G rap’s Live and Let Die like wholesale on Ready to Die. someone made a good point though–where are the successors to Jay, Nas, 2pac, Biggie, even Snoop? the lineage has broken down.

  • Rob The Music Ed

    But Jay took what they did and brought it to another level. You can’t discount that! I mean the fact that Jay has a career spanning over 10 albums is amazing. G Rap, Ra and BDK only have about 3 dope albums in their careers (each, not separately)

    • Underdog

      Yeah but not all of those 10 albums are dope. Some only had two good tracks on ‘em.

      Much respect to BDK: A tru playa and M.C.

    • El Tico Loco

      All they needed was 3 dope albums the acts that came after them were good enough to pass the torch, but those artists like Jay or nas,or Busta don’t have sucessor worthy of passing the torch to, they some that are nice enough but they all got something missing that can’t be pinpointed.

  • http://XXLMag Frank Taylor 253

    Jay Z may not be the GOAT, thats a toss up between Biggie and Rakim, but there isn’t another rapper that dropped more classics then him. He always stayed true to hip hop. Not selling out on that auto tune shit like your favorite “Daddy” kissing MC. Nas hasn’t came with a banger since Stillmatic but Hip Hop is Dead was close.

  • Sincere7

    testing, testing….

  • K.I. Assasin

    Whoever throws shade at Big Daddy Kane is either a bitch ass hater or an ignorant dumb ass who knows nothing about the history of hip hop and what Big Daddy Kane brought to the table as a lyricist. If the younger generation would take the time to listen to rappers like Kane, KRS, Kool G Rap maybe they could bring lyricism back to life, I’m not saying hip hop is dead but this young dudes are treating her like a hoe when they should be treating her like the QUEEN she is. Speaking for self I don’t know what I would do without hip hop straight up and down much Love to the B-I-G D-A-double D-Y K-A-N-E.

  • ratchet

    i love these guys but sometimes i wish they would create new music instead of rehashing old hits. i wanna hear g rap and kane with new material just not them promising us new shit. come on give us something new.

  • oskamadison

    Kane was/is that dude. I remember back in the day when dudes would argue about Rakim and Kane, I always ran with the R but I liked Kane too. I think a lot of his fans (including myself) owe dude an apology. When he started doing more R&B stuff, we fronted on him, saying he fell off when he was actually ahead of his time. Biggie, AZ, Nas, Hov, shit half the east coast was rocking over R&B shit in the 90′s and no one said shit. And for the record, he slaughted that Busta remix. And check that “Afro Cameo” joint he did with GZA.

  • Curtis75Black

    Much Repsect to Big Daddy Kane. One of Illest emcee’s to ever grace the mic. I wish his career would’ve lasted longer in the forefront though. Being the lyricist he is, he definately would teach these youngin’s a lesson or 2.

  • miles archer

    How the fuck did Jay-Z even get brought up?

    I was riding around listening to It’s a Big Daddy Thing a couple weeks ago. That album still knocks. There’s more than a few joints on that album that STILL get used for remixes and freestyles so i’d say it holds up pretty well.

    Next to LL, Kane’s prolly the first “Complete MC”. He could make you dance, make you laugh,
    make you think, was a sex symbol, sold records, had a live stage show and would absolutely destroy any mic he touched.

    Long live the Kane…


  • Anti-Mainstream

    If any pioneer could hook up with the best producers today and sound current, it’s the Big Daddy Kane. I don’t care how old he is, (which isn’t that old anyway!) A new Big Daddy Kane album is long overdue…..

  • Sincere

    The B-I-G D-A-Double-D-Y K-A-N-E, dramatic, Asiatic, not like many…and that’s the t-r-u-t-h. Big Daddy Kane is second to none except maybe Rakim, however, his versatility is supreme. Jay-Z and Biggie’s lyrical blueprint, style and swagger can be found originally in Kane.

    He laughs at who would win in a battle between himself and Ra, though they are both students of Grandmaster Caz and Kool Moe Dee. In either case, it would be cool to see it, but better yet they do a collaborative effort in lyrical exercise on a new version of Rakim’s “No Competition” just for sake of a good hip-hop record. In fact it would be cool for them and their peers like L.L. (yeah, Cool J), KRS, Ice Cube and EPMD to make a celebratory hip-hop album together.

    Well until the Wrath of Kane comes again, Long Live The Kane 20th Anniversary.