“Rap soloist, you don’t want none of this.” What if Rakim did listen to a lot of cats in the streets back in the day, and took Big Daddy Kane’s lyrics from “Set It Off” as a stone-cold dis? We might have seen the greatest battle of all time. Or, what if Kane decided to test the blast master KRS-One? What a showdown that would have been.
Last Friday night in New York, BDK was sitting back in chill mode, fantasizing about two dream battles with his peers.
“It would have to be Rakim and KRS-One,” Kane answered, when asked whom he would have wanted to battle back in the day in a dream face-off. When asked how the battles would go, Kane displayed the humor that enhanced his obvious lyrical and style acumen in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
“How would it go?” he asked, before impersonating a boxing commentator. “Out comes Hardy. Griffin retreats back to his corner.” (Kane’s real name is Antonio Hardy, and Rakim was born William Griffin.)
A big burst of laughter immediately filled the room (“Mad Money” Murph, whom you’ve heard shouted out in plenty of Kane’s records, was there as well). Then, getting a little more serious, Kane explained the rationale behind his dream battle.
“It’s the type of thing where, if you gonna battle somebody to prove your greatness, you wanna go to somebody that shares that same seat with you,” he said. “Those are probably two of the ones who I felt like [could present a challenge]. Also, [Kool] G. Rap, but I’ve always felt like G. Rap was like a brother. With us, it was friendly competition.”
Kane was in New York on Friday celebrating his 20th anniversary in the rap game. Not only was he partying at B.B. King’s Bar and Grill, Daddy Kane was also rapping, sounding as great as he did two decades ago.
“Well, who’s gonna come, we will see,” he said backstage before his performance. “That’s based on surprises, but I know on my part, I’m here to have fun and do the damn thing. I wanna entertain and make sure people have a good time. It’s a celebration that means a lot to me.”
A little before showtime, friends and famous fans of the Prince of Darkness such as Ice-T, Sugar Hill Gang’s Wonder Mike, Greg Nice, XXL Editor in Chief Datwon Thomas, Tony Rock, AZ, Roxanne Shanté, Positive K (who performed his classic “I Got a Man”), DJ Polo, DJ Enuff, Miss Info and Busta Rhymes crammed into the jam-packed building — everybody wanted to hear those hits.
“My best album is probably my second one, It’s a Big Daddy Thing,” the MC said. “I like a lot of the songs on there. It was put together … just the structure of the album was tight.” He said that Long Live the Kane was his favorite to make, though, because it was his first.
One of Kane’s closest friends and collaborators in rap, Biz Markie, was the first to touch the stage on Friday night. The diabolical one set it off with hits such as “Something for the Radio,” “Going Off” and “Pickin’ Boogers.” Roxanne Shanté then got onstage with Biz and the MC-turned-doctor blessed the mic with some throwback flavor on “Def Fresh Crew”: “I’m Shante, he’s Biz Markie/ Side by side, you know it’s we/ No, I don’t speak French, when I say ’we’/ I mean us two, not ’Yes, sirree’/ Everyone knows that I am much better/ Come on Biz Markie, get it together/ Talk to the girls, you know they are wack/ Tell those crabs they sound like cats.”
Biz killed it, wowing the crowd while finishing off with “Nobody Beats the Biz,” “Vapors” and “Just a Friend.”
When it was time for Kane to come on, a live band, dressed in black suits and red shirts, played the beat to “Another Victory.” Kane arrived onstage, wearing a black vest, red dress shirt and jeans.
His first four records were unmerciful: “Set It Off,” “Warm It Up, Kane,” “I Get The Job Done” and “Smooth Operator.” The second verse of the latter was rapped over Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”
Later, when Kane asked the crowd what year they wanted him to take it back to, a man in the crowd yelled, “Take it back to them bad Reagan years.” As the show progressed, BDK told the audience, “No excuses now that Barack is in the White House,” before going into “Ain’t No Half Steppin’.”
Kane’s finale included cameos from Masta Ace, Craig G and Marley Marl, but unfortunately no Kool G. Rap. The Brooklyn King’s send-off was “Raw,” which made everyone in the crowd look forward to the 25th anniversary.