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