Since its inception, hip-hop has seen many rappers come and go. Some last for a few moments, others get 15 minutes, and a few manage to extend their time to an hour. No matter the timeframe, it’s only a matter of time before the emcee is spewed out of hip-hop mouth, left to release albums independently or better the hip-hop graveyard label, Koch. When the artist’s time runs out they can only hope they left a legacy.
It’s been over a decade since we last heard from Big Daddy Kane, but thankfully he left us quite a legacy. When you talk about greatest lyricist of all time, one name that must be mentioned in the conversation is Big Daddy Kane.
Kane’s impact was immediately felt in 88′ with the release of his debut Long Live The Kane, which mixed strong rhymes with Marley Marl’s solid production work. The album was received with heaps of critical acclaim and went on to earn a gold plaque, leaving many to debate rather Kane had taken the imaginary crown from Rakim as King of New York.
Trying to build on the momentum from his debut, Kane came back in 89′ to release his sophomore effort It’s A Big Daddy Thing. This time around Kane handles the bulk of the production, leaving a few for Marley Marl, and a handful handled by a few hip-hop producing legends (more on that later), and Teddy Riley. It’s A Big Daddy Thing would go on to earn Kane his second consecutive gold plague, and more critical acclaim. They say numbers don’t lie, but I ask: do they always tell the truth?
What I really want to know is why they didn’t clean the carpet in the limo for the pic on the inside of the cd booklet. The first album went gold, you couldn’t spend $1oo to get the thing detailed for the photo shoot?
It’s A Big Daddy Thing – Prince Paul provides the first instrumental of the evening for Kane to perform his lyrical gymnastics. The beat sounds pretty good but Kane is the true star of this show as he completely demolishes the uneven bars. Nice start to the show.
Another Victory – Don’t let the title fool you: this is not a battle rap. Instead Kane uses this dope Easy Mo Bee instrumental to address drug dealers, police harassment, unity, and squeezes in a battle rhyme or two, for good measure. Those he looses focus, you can’t front on his lyrically ability, or Easy Mo Bee’s tight instrumental .
Mortal Combat – First things first: this song title is and will always be sick, to me at least. Kane is credited for this instrumental work that utilizes a very familiar James Brown sample, and it actually sounds pretty good. Kane’s in full-blown battle mode, performing his best Scorpion impressing as he lassoes the track, ordering it to “get over here” before finishing it off with his best finishing move. This serves as a good example to why Kane should be in your top five dead or alive.
Children R The Future – Big Daddy loves the kids, as he attempts to prove over this self-produced instrumental. I appreciate the message, but this is inches away from making contact with corny (he even sings a portion of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love Of All” in a fake Jamaican voice at the end). Correction, this was laying all over corny.
Young, Gifted & Black – Marley Marl gets his first production credit of the evening, and brother, it was worth the wait. Kane’s baritone vocal blends beautifully with Marley’s rough instrumental, as he rips this beat to shreds, turning this one verse wonder into a masterpiece. I repeat: Kane should be in your top five, word.
Smooth Operator – I belief this was the first single off the album. Kane borrows the Mary Jane Girls “All Night Long” for the back drop to this smooth groove. Kane switches gears dismantling emcees in a gentleman like manner, and even reserves a verse for the ladies, so everybody can enjoy his smooth operation. Nice job pleasing your entire fan base, all within the same song, Kane.
Calling Mr. Welfare – Kane tackles the welfare system from an angle often not seen in hip-hop: I love hip-hop. Matter of fact, I eat, sleep, and live it. The fiend of hip-hop still has me stuck like a crack pipe. But I’ve often struggled with the lack of responsiblity hip-hip places on the black community for the condition we’re in. Don’t get me wrong, our ancestors past still effects are place in the U.S. (even with a black president), and I do believe there are traps set up to intentionally snag blacks (specifically black males) in America. But we never seem to look in the mirror and take responsibility for our own actions. Why can’t we step around the traps? I’ll get off my soapbox…now. Speaking of soapbox, Kane does a nice job of not stepping on his for this song, as he brings a comical touch (thinks in part to DJ Red Alert ad-libs) to a serious topic. Kane shares three stories of welfare recipients pointing out the mistakes they’ve made to get them into the situation they’re in. Easy Mo Bee’s instrumental is serviceable, but doesn’t hinder the overall effect of Kane’s lyrics.
Wrath Of Kane (Live) – This plays as it reads: Kane performing “Wrath Of Kane” live at the Apollo theater. If you put your headphones on and close your eyes, you can see the lights, the crowd, Mister Cee on the turntable, Scoob and Scrap dancing, while Kane rips the mic. Back in the day it was common to see Kane bust a move with his back up dancers, so that explains him gasping for breath like he just ran a 7 mile marathon during his performance. But that small mishap isn’t enough to warrant an appearance from Sandman.
I Get The Job Done – Teddy Riley was definitely making his rounds on the hip-hop circuit back in the late eighties, as this is the third time in four write-ups that I’ve mentioned him for production work on a hip-hop album. It should come as a surprise to no one that this was released as a single, as it’s easily the most commercial sounding song on the entire album. It also helps that it’s aimed at the female audience. Kane spins three verses trying to convince his prey to jump out of her panties and cheat on her husband with him, similar to three-fourths of the songs in LL Cool J’s catalog. Anyway you cut it, this sucks.
Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – Message! Prince Paul
steals borrows McFadden & Whitehead’s song of the same title as the backdrop for Kane to motivate (or at least attempt) the listener to keep pushing as we hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. Prince Paul’s instrumental sounds pretty lazy. This wasn’t terrible, nor was it great, falling somewhere in the “bearable” range.
Pimpin’Ain’t Easy – I’ve always hated this song. Over his self-produced instrumental, Kane invites Nice & Smooth, Skoob, and Cliff Lover (who gets exactly one bar) to talk about banging random garden tools. While I did find Smooth B’s verse mildly entertaining, this song still sucks as much is it did back in 89′.
Big Daddy’s Theme – A short instrumental that Kane fittingly describes as “Pimp Shit” and used to quotes a few Dolemite lines over. It would have made more sense to place this before the previous song. Then again, that song was terrible, so it really doesn’t matter where this was placed.
To Be Your Man – And It’s A Big Daddy Thing is taken to new lows with this crap. Kane provides this macaroni of a beat and brings extra cheese for this sappy rap ballad. Picking up where he left off on “The Day You’re Mine”, Kane talks his way through this one, dropping cliché after cliché, with no sincerity (especially when you consider his content in the last two songs) while trying to talk the lady in question out of her panties. His invited guests Blue Magic provide background vocals, and should be shot, as they sound like wounded dogs begging to be put out their misery. Why Kane? Why?
The House That Cee Built – Mister Cee get the spotlight and provides a pretty solid house beat that he slices to shreds. This was actually an enjoyable deejay cut.
On The Move – Kane invites his back up dancers, Skoob and Scrab, to share the mic on this posse cut. All three participants verses come off like a bunch of pick up lines. Kane comes off effortless over his simple but funky instrumental, but his back up dancers…let’s just say they shouldn’t quit their day jobs (even more so now, since Kane isn’t as in demand as he was back then). Next…
Warm It Up, Kane – After making sure his commercial and female obligations were met, Kane the emcee returns to completely destroy this simple but effective instrumental. Rhymefest used this a few year back on his The Manual mixtape, setting it up to come off as if he’s battling Kane, with Rhymefest finally conceding defeat at the end. It’s an entertaining listen and a great homage to one of the best to ever do it.
Rap Summary (Lean On Me) (Remix) – The original version of this song was included on the Lean On Me soundtrack and was also released as a single from the same soundtrack. This song (and the movie) is about Joe Clark, the newly hired principal of Eastside High (which is was one of the toughest high school in New Jersey in the early eighties), who literally whips the school into shape. Kane sound decent enough (with the exception of him mispronouncing the word “supremacy” for the sake of making it rhyme). Marley Marl’s remix is decent but it doesn’t hold a flame to the original mix.
Kane starts It’s A Big Daddy Thing off with a bang, combining potent lyrics over pretty solid production. Unfortunately, by the midway point Kane loses his focus, apparently distracted by t&a, dollars signs, and more t&a, which unfortunately doesn’t translate to quality music. He does slightly build up momentum near the end, but there’s not enough time on the clock to complete the comeback, so the points he put’s on the board at the end are in vain. That said, there are still quite a few examples to help cement Kane’s spot in the top five-dead-or-alive. Legacy, baby.