I love it when the stars align. This past weekend I, ironically had the awesome pleasure of seeing today’s artist of discussion perform live. North Minneapolis puts on an arts showcase each year which promotes the arts and gives local artists (visual, musical, dance, fashion, etc.) the opportunity to display their art in the community. One of the local radio stations sets up a stage for local artist to display their art to the masses (if 45 people can be considered “the masses”; the turn out this year wasn’t impressive). After watching local acts, that range from decent to downright horrible, it was finally time to hear the real reason why I even came out: Big Daddy Kane.
Now, anybody who reads this blog regularly knows what high regard I hold Kane at. In my opinion, he is easily one of the top 5 emcees of all time. It was both sad and shocking to see such a weak turn out for a hip-hop legend of his status, especially considering it was a free concert. The weather could partially be blamed for the poor turn out as it did rain a little that afternoon. Regardless, after DJ Skaz Digga (though it would have been cool to see Mister Cee on the ones and two’s) warmed the crowd up with some classic hip-hop joints, Kane took the stage and completely murdered his nearly hour-long set, proving that even a little rain can’t stop the reign of the Kane (I know, that was a bit cheesy, but I’m a roll with it anyway).
Kane’s first two albums did well both commercially and critically, and he returned in 1990 hoping for the trifecta with Taste of Chocolate. Unfortunately, like all good things, Kane’s consecutive gold selling album run came to an end with the release of Taste of Chocolate; but it would still receive favorable reviews from critics.
But on this blog, this critic’s opinion is the only one that really matters.
Taste Of Chocolate Intro – After shouting out all his fans, Kane spits a quick one verse wonder over a smooth instrumental that he also whipped up. Nice way to start the evening’s proceedings.
Cause I Can Do It Right – What would a Big Daddy Kane album be without his signature ladies man themed braggadocio, filled with punchline after punchline on his sexual prowess (the line about “having more women in areas than a skypager” was kind of dated, though). If my memory serves me correct this was the first single released from the album as well. Kane’s instrumental was decent, similar to the over results of this song.
It’s Hard Being The Kane – Prince Paul provides a sick instrumental that Kane completely rips to shreds. This is arguably one of Kane’s best songs of all time, In my opinion.
Who Am I – Kane is known for his vicious battle lines and ladies man image, but many overlook (forget or never knew) his ability to craft a song with depth. “Who Am I” finds Kane doing just that, as he paints the prospective of an African slave and a once hardcore rapper turned pop, as they both find themselves asking their selves the proverbial question the song’s title ask. Malcolm X’s daughter, Gamilah Shabazz stops by to answer the question from a woman’s point of view, and does a serviceable job. Kane also proves he has the ability to craft pretty nice instrumental. Well done.
Dance With The Devil – Kane uses this one to warn the listener to avoid midnight waltzing with Lucifer, providing the second punch in his “conscious content” combo. Kane’s lyrics mesh beautifully with Cool V’s dark instrumental, and the addition of the sample of Jack Nicholson as the Joker from the 89’ Michael Keaton version of Batman (which happens to be one of my favorite movie lines of all times) only makes this more intense.
No Damn Good – I’ve always loved this song. Kane spits 2 verses, one about a freak named Monique, and the other about a wannabe player named Corey. 20 plus years later, Kane’s jabs still pack a powerful punch, as I still laugh at some of his lines (I love the joke about a dude’s peter having too many “knots” in it). Prince Paul gets his second production credit of the evening, and while it’s not as potent as his first one, it still gets the job done (no pun intended).
All Of Me – “To Be Your Man” from It’s a Big Daddy Thing and later, “I’m Not Ashamed” from Prince of Darkness were pretty blatant attempts at crossover rap ballads, bu this hot mess takes the cake and bakery. Kane invites the legendary Barry White to the stu, as the two spend nearly 6 minutes conversing about finding true love and subconsciously battle to see who’s baritone voice can go the deepest . This was clearly an attempt at reaching his heel wearing fan base, but I don’t even think they appreciate this mess.
Keep Em’ On The Floor – And the downward spiral continues. This time Kane invites Barbara Weathers (formerly of Atlantic Starr, or for you young bucks, the lady who sang lead on “Secret Lovers” and “Always”) to sing a terrible hook on this mess of a song, which is apparently supposed to evoke the listener to want to dance; and I’m sure that never happened, and you’ll agree once you listen to Kane’s garbage instrumental. On the bright side, at least Kane is back to rapping on this one. Wait..did he just refer to the dance floor as a disco? Wtf? What this recorded in 1990 or 1977?
Mr. Pitiful – Cool V provides a pretty nice instrumental that Kane uses to spit one long verse about his come up in the rap game, the success that followed, and the drama that comes along with it all. This kind of reminded me of LL’s “Cheesy Rat” from Mama Said Knock You Out. This was nice.
Put Your Weight On It – This has the same theme as Ice Cube’s “Jackin For Beats” only with not as entertainment instrumentals and a not so clever song title. Kane still manages to do his thing on the mic, though.
Big Daddy vs Dolemite – For those of you who don’t know who Dolemite is, he was a slicked tongue character created and played by comedian/actor Rudy Ray Moore in several blaxploitation movies in the seventies. Kane invites Mr. Dolemite in on this one, as the two duke it out, exchanging hilariously outrageously boasts, until Dolemite ultimately signifies Kane into submission. Classic entertainment.
Down The Line – Mister Cee provides the instrumental for this posse cut and everybody in the crew gets in on the fun. Kane sets it off, simultaneously setting the bar way too high for any of his crew to reach. Scoop, Scrap, Mister Cee, Little Daddy Shane (Kane’s younger brother), and even Kane’s bodyguard Ant Live grab the mic and waste the remaining few minutes of this song, as well as the listener’s time, with their amateur contributions.
Taste Of Chocolate Exit – More shoutouts over the same instrumental as the intro. And we’re done.
They say numbers don’t lie. I say, they don’t tell the truth, either. Why? because numbers can’t talk, stupid…duh. Music, on the other hand, does have a voice; and despite poor record sales, Taste of Chocolate speaks pretty well for its self. Yes, the album does have two huge misfires during the middle section, but the rest of Taste of Chocolate makes for a pretty entertaining listen. The production ranges from decent to fire, but Kane’s top-notch lyricism never waivers, leaving you so intrigued you’re willing to overlook the few mediocre instrumentals included on the album (warning: you will never be able to overlook the abominations that were “All Of Me” and “Keep ‘Em On The Floor”). Sadly, Taste of Chocolate marked the beginning of the end of Kane’s reign, as two of his next three albums were disappointments, and before the turn of the century his once crown worthy high-top fade would completely fade (pun intended) off the scene.