Antonio Hardy, who does business under the alias of Big Daddy Kane, first came on the hip-hop scene under the umbrella of Marley Marl and his legendary Juice Crew back in 1986. After ghostwriting for Biz Markie, Biz introduced Kane To Marley, and Antonio would release his debut album Long Live The Kane, in which Marley would handle all the production duties.
On the strength of Antonio’s lyrical output, Long Live The Kane would go on to earn the praise of hip-hop purists, and would be considered by many a hip-hop masterpiece (even The Source crowned it with 5 mics…14 years after it’s release). That was then and this is now. Let’s see if Long Live The Kane can stand the test of time.
Long Live The Kane – Antonio comes right out the gates rippin’ ish over this vintage Marley Marl produced instrumental. This is Kane at his rawest, years before he would become the polished and smooth ladies man. In other words, this is Kane at his best. Nice way to start the evening, Antonio.
Raw (Remix) – Well said: Over a raw instrumental, Antonio spits some of his rawest lyrics. This song serves as a sample on why most consider Kane top 10 of all time. If you listen carefully after the last verse, Marley gets a little sloppy with the final mix, as there is a thud that sounds like it was missed during the final mix (or maybe that was left in to make the song live up to its title). This still sounds nice.
Set It Off – For the third consecutive track Marley samples a James Brown record (which was pretty much standard protocol for late eighties hip-hip albums). The beat is simple and raw, which sounds perfect underneath Kane’s lyrics. Kane sounds like he was on a mission for microphone supremacy, dude’s a beast! I’m not dick riding, but you got to put Kane in your top 10. Marley must feel good to know he played a part in jump starting the career’s of two of the greatest emcees of all time(Rakim being the other).
The Day You’re Mind – And this is where Long Live The Kane‘s run at perfection crumbles. Antonio does his best LL impression, making his attempt at a rap ballad, and needless to say he fails miserably. Who in the hell is Andre Boothe? Better question, why did Antonio let him sing – or should I say squeal – over the hook? From the beat, to the singing, even Antonio’s content, this song was terrible, dude.
On The Bugged Tip – Kane and his back-up dancer Scoob Lover trade verses over Marley’s track, which samples Debarge’s “I Like It” (nice job of dicing that one up, Marley). While Antonio’s the real star of this show, Scoob managing to hold your attention on the mic (it was funny to hear his Atari reference). This was a fun song, but still very solid.
Ain’t No Half Steppin – I have one word:classic. I believe this was the first single off of Long Live The Kane, and over 20 years later this sounds fresher than ever. From the voice, delivery, vocabulary, and wit, Antonio proves he’s the real deal (I’m riding again, aren’t I? Sorry). I’ve always loved the second verse, where he continues to build on each previous line, before he hit’s you with an “ahh shit”, nice. Superior emceeing mixed with a superb beat equals a masterpiece.
I’ll Take You There – I guess you can call this Kane’s “socially conscious” song, or just his interpretation of Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech (or John Lennon’s “Imagine”). Antonio dreams of a world free of violence and where African’s can eat all the Red Lobster they want, free of charge (I’m serious, listen for yourself). He even mentions watching movies on his VCR, and for the second time on the album we get an Atari reference, once again dating this song. Marley jacks The Staples Singers’ beat (of the same title) wholesale, bringing nothing new to it, which makes the track sound lazy.
Just Rhymin’ With The Biz – Biz says it best at the very beginning of this song: funky. Marley uses James Brown’s “The Payback” for the basis of this freestyle session. Biz warms things up for his former puppet master, on the opening verse (where he mentions watching his beta, hi-arious!), and from there Antonio rips ish to shreds. He even uses a portion of his closing verse from “On The Bugged Tip”, but it still works as he build around it. I repeat, you must include Kane in your top 10.
Mister Cee’s Master Plan – This is Kane’s ode to his deejay, Mister Cee. I love the line about “killer cuts, leaving bodies on record labels”, nice. It was also pretty amusing to hear Mister Cee cut Kane off at the end of the song so he could get in his shout outs. Far from the best material on Long Live The Kane, but still decent.
Word To The Mother (Land) – Antonio shows his black consciousness side over Marley’s beat, which borrows liberally from James Brown’s “Funky President”. This was far from spectacular, but it was a decent listen, and a decent way to end the show.
Most debut albums from hip-hop artist from the mid to late eighties, presented emcees who showed potential but were still wet behind the ears and at times sound a bit amateurish. Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live The Kane does not fall into that category. From the jump Kane comes out on fire as he displays the technique and wit of a wily vet, while Marley Marl’s stripped down but more than sufficient production, compliments Antonio’s flow beautifully. Again, Kane should be in everyone’s top 10.
Did The Source get it right? I can overlook the inclusion of “I’ll Take You There”, but the mishap that was “The Day You’re Mine” knocks Long Live The Kane out of the running for perfection. Maybe next time, Antonio.