EXCLUSIVE: Big Daddy Kane Discusses New Group The Las Supper & Album
Before the show jumped off, XXL got the chance to sit down with Big Daddy Kane to discuss the Las Supper and its impending release, Back to the Future. During the interview, Kane explained the intricacies of collaborating with Showtyme and the Lifted Crew, and how his decades of experience rhyming over soul and R&B samples has prepared him for this latest effort.
XXL: When did the Las Supper and its album Back to the Future come together?
Big Daddy Kane: To be honest with you, this project has been a real roller coaster-ride [with] really getting everything together and really getting things focused. Now, I feel it’s there, it’s tight and it’s straight now. So it’s like, when did it come together? It came together when we finished the album…[but] I love old school music, that’s just always been my thing. To have the opportunity to record it with a great vocalist like Showtyme and a great band like the Lifted [Crew], I’m honored and I’m happy to be doing this because that type of music has always been my thing.
XXL: All three parties involved – Showtyme, the Lifted Crew and yourself – have pretty deep solo discographies. With that in mind, what made the three of you want to link up?
Big Daddy Kane: It’s like, you want to mess with vintage music, but there’s no need to mess with it if you’re going to stay in the past because it’s already been done. You reflect on something but you give it a modern twist. I think that Showtyme has those Bobby Womack-type of chops, so he can really reflect the past, but he also gives it that kind of K-Ci Hailey [of K-Ci and JoJo] twist to modernize things. The Lifted Crew, I think that they’re a great band that plays great soul music. They may have studied a lot of soul, but really, their heart and soul is in hip-hop. They love backing hip-hop artists; so therefore, they’re going to give it the modern twist. Plus, the hip-hop being mixed with vintage soul is just something that hasn’t really been done; that’s really what I bring to it.
XXL: I’m curious about the collaborative process behind the kind of a project. How did you work together as a group with so many musical components, yet still be able to anchor it in hip-hop?
Big Daddy Kane: [We collaborated] by making sure that it’s a team effort. You’ve always heard R&B songs where there’s an eight or 16 bar break for the rapper to spit, and I say from the ’90s on up to now, [with] the majority of those songs, the verse the rapper spits ain’t really got shit to do with the song…we’re gonna make sure that that’s not what’s happening. [People would] normally [think], “Wouldn’t a bridge be here? But it seems like the bridge became the rap section.” We want people to get that feel, so now what you’re saying is it’s a group. It’s not some R&B dudes that let Kane rhyme on a song; it’s a group. It’s like these songs are together and mixed, like, “Yo, he sung half the verse, he rapped the other half, he sung another verse [and] he rapped the other half.” The chemistry has to really bond in a way where it is a group effort.
XXL: In a lot of ways, hip-hop took R&B as kind of its musical blueprint through sampling and repurposing the sounds of a whole host of soul artists into hip-hop beats. How did you guys try to approach and encompass all the different facets of R&B and soul music with losing that hip-hop edge?
Big Daddy Kane: It’s just basically playing soul music, good soul music. Bottom line, that’s all [the Lifted Crew] really had to do – play good soul music, come up with something creative that sounds like a song [and] not just a verse-hook, verse-hook. You’ve got a bridge, you’ve got a b-section – [we] just create songs. That was basically all they had to do: create good soul music.
Now with me, on the other hand, incorporating me, it was to be done in a way [where] it doesn’t sound like a rapper rhyming on a song. It sounds like if hip-hop existed in the ’50s and ’60s and was something normal that you would see at a Temptations session [or] something normal that you would see at an Otis Redding session.
XXL: When I think of your past work – especially in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s – something that’s always stood out to me is that the samples used in your songs always maintained the feeling of soul and R&B music, more so that many other emcees. Coming into this project, was there a conscious decision to recapture that sound, or move beyond it?
Big Daddy Kane: In all honesty, the project is not about me; the project is about them. It’s not a Kane album; it’s a Showtyme and Nicky Cakes [guitarist/singer, Lifted Crew] album. They are the lead vocalists; I just have rap parts in there. They’re Sam, I’m Dave. They’re Hall, I’m Oates [laughs].
Because we’re combining two different genres, I’m making my presence felt on these songs. But like what you were saying – that’s what makes it easy; because of stuff I’ve done in the past where I’m familiar with soul music. It’s easy for me to put a verse in this here song and make it work. When you talk about hip-hop, [there was no] music origin for hip-hop; when hip-hop started, it started over other peoples’ music, and other peoples’ music was soul, disco and rock.
XXL: So much of soul and R&B is based on the live performance, and obviously you’re known as one of hip-hop’s great live showmen. How does that factor into the Las Supper?
Big Daddy Kane: Honestly, I really think the shows are going to be the thing that tells the story. Just seeing how it goes down I think is even more amazing. It’s a great album, I think it sounds great, but I mean, to see it is even more amazing because we have fun with it…[and] Showtyme – have you met him? Well, he’s an Energizer Bunny, there’s really no off switch. I give him Prozac when I need to rest. Lifted, they perform a lot, and their sets are always very energetic. With me, what I did to try to complement what we do now [on stage], I sat with Show and [watched] videos of Sam and Dave like, “Look how they’re doing that! See how they move – when he moves, then he moves here” – just showing old stuff like that.