In Hip Hop every so often someone will come along that takes the music industry by storm. In modern times you may consider such people to be the likes of Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, and Jay Z just to name a few. But one artist all of these rappers pay homage to is Big Daddy Kane and here’s why.
In the early days of Hip Hop rappers, rhymes were not as complex as they are today. This is simply because in the mid to late ’70s Hip Hop music was still in its infancy stages and was only a few years old at the time. Just like anything else in life things need time in order to grow and multiply and the evolution of Hip Hop is no exception.
Big Daddy Kane is widely recognized as being one of the greatest and most influential MC’s of all time alongside his fellow colleagues such as KRS One, Kool G Rap, and Rakim who in the ’80s single-handedly changed the rap game forever. Each garnished their own distinct sound coupled with complex lyrical rhyme schemes in a way that had yet to be executed on the mic before. And so the Hip Hop terminology “lyricist” was formed.
Raising The Bar
Brooklyn, New York native Big Daddy Kane didn’t stop pushing the limits of his craft with just lyrics. He also began to incorporate live dance choreography, theatrics and tailored made costumes into his performances which were unheard of for rappers at the time. These additions added a lot of entertainment value to his performances which lead to him selling out two shows at the world-famous Apollo Theater for women only which revolutionized the way Hip Hop shows were performed.
Another way that Kane separated himself from the rest was his appearance. It was normal in those days for rappers to be rockin t-shirts and jeans. However, Kane liked to wear designer suits and stayed with a fresh high top cut with a line cut into it. He was also known for cutting lines into one of his eyebrows. This gave him a look that made him stand out visually from the rest.
In 1990 at the height of Big Daddy Kane’s career he did something that shows a lot of good character. He took Queen Latifah “with Naughty By Nature as roadies”, MC Lyte, Digital Underground “featuring 2Pac as a dancer”, 3rd Bass, and Jay-Z on his “Chocolate City” nationwide tour. For some, the tour provided them with the opportunity to gain experience and create a fan base. At the time Jay Z was not an established artist and Big Daddy Kane would take a break during the middle of his show to change outfits. He would then invite Jay-Z on stage to rap for him until he was ready to resume the show. Notorious B.I.G also was often found in the crowd-drawing inspiration from the incredible show that Kane was putting on. Just pause and think about the number of future Hip Hop greats that were brought together because of this tour many of which had yet to be established.
On Friday, September 28 2012 Jay Z was putting on a show at the newly constructed Barclay’s center and paid homage by saying the following “Big Daddy Kane was before me, before B.I.G.; we gotta understand our history,”. Jay Z also stated the following about Kane in his book Decoded “I got an invaluable education watching him perform…even today I use some of the ideas I picked up back then about pacing and performance in my own live show.”
Big Daddy Kane is a pioneer. He is someone whose self-confidence and security caused him to push the boundaries of his craft to new limits no one else had done before causing him to be years ahead of his time. He wasn’t afraid to be himself and try new things such as fusing R&B with Hip Hop, sporting classy suites, incorporating dancing into his routines, and even putting on shows for women only! Even when the Gangster Rap scene shot up in the mid 80’s he never conformed to it because he didn’t believe in encouraging violence and calling women out their name. And at the height of his career, he wasn’t afraid to reach out and help others by sharing the platform he worked so hard to create. There’s no way I could effectively write one article to embody all the reasons why I consider Big Daddy Kane to be great. But hopefully, I was able to scratch the surface well enough for the newer generation to fathom why Big Daddy Kane is truly a legend among us.
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