When you wake up everyday knowing that you are one of hip-hop’s greatest lyricists such glowing accolades can become old hat. But for Big Daddy Kane, the Grammy-winning Brooklyn MC, humility is the best response. “I’m just glad that people look at me as a legend,” he says from his North Carolina home. “I never got into this to own a mansion. Being acknowledged as one of the best is enough for me.” You have to forgive Kane for having such a low-key reaction to being hailed as one of rap’s true G.O.A.T.s. Still it’s impressive for a man who became a standout member of the celebrated rhyme collective the Juice Crew and went on to release his influential 1988 solo debut Long Live the Kane.
Big Daddy Kane has worked with the iconic likes of Quincy Jones and is often name checked by Jay-Z as Mr. Carter’s biggest idol. In street terms, he is a mad man. VIBE caught up with the original God MC to discuss his legacy, his surprising turn as a soul/funk band frontman of the group Las Supper (Back to the Future) and his thoughts on old friend and former DJ Mister Cee's recent sex scandal.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
VIBE: One of your good friends and former DJ Mister Cee announced his resignation from New York radio station Hot 97 last week amid allegations that he had solicited a male prostitute. He has since returned to his radio position and even admitted to engaging in sex with transsexuals. What are your thoughts on the situation?
Big Daddy Kane: I support Cee. He is somebody I met in high school and I got down with his rap crew. Eventually it became just me and Cee rocking together at parties in Brooklyn. We stuck with it and when Biz Markie got me my deal I brought Cee with me and we rode it out. We rocked together from ’84 to ’95. Once Cee got settled in at Hot 97 I knew he couldn’t balance touring with me anymore. But Cee has always supported me. And I’ve always supported him and that’s not going to change because of today. What he said on-air was real. I support the brother and I’m going to always be his friend.
Do you think Cee making such a statement will help put an end to homophobia in hip-hop?
I don’t know. But I’m glad he [came out with the truth] because that’s the only way you can be at peace with yourself. Hopefully Cee is at peace and he don’t have to worry about what people think about his persona or his personal life. He can just get on the turntables and do what he’s been doing which is entertaining the people.
You are viewed as not only one of the greatest MC’s lyrically to ever pick up a mic, but you have also been praised as one of the genre’s best live acts. Which one are you most proud of?
I’ve always taken both seriously. To me hip-hop is a culture and I became an MC to be recognized as a dope lyricist. That’s what I wanted to be recognized as. So when I’m writing rhymes I always take it very seriously. And with the stage performing I remember being on the road with Biz [Markie] before I even had a record out. Biz would tell me to do certain things onstage and at a point I would feel like, “I’m tired of doing this…this is not what I want to do…I’m going to do something else.” And when I didn’t listen to Biz I came close to being booed. So from that point on I always took what I do onstage very seriously. You have to do what the crowd wants. You have to be entertaining.
But if you go back to that late ‘80s/early ‘90s era, some of the most gifted MC’s like yourself were even dancing onstage. In fact, your stage show included back-up dancers Scoob & Scrap Lover. Do you ever see that caliber of physical entertainment coming back in hip-hop?
To be honest with you walking around onstage all slow and holding your private area to me is corny [laughs]. Anything you can do to generate excitement whether it be dancing, running from stage left to stage right, jumping up and down to getting the crowd involved or whatever the case may be, I think that’s entertainment.
If you could pick one Big Daddy Kane album as the G.O.A.T. what would it be?
My second album, It’s A Big Daddy Thing.
Now that’s surprising. A lot of fans would have gone instantly with Long Live the Kane.
Well, I think Long Live the Kane is a dope, classic album. But it was a dope local album. It was something that really could only speak for New York because that’s all I had already seen up to that point. But on It’s A Big Daddy Thing I was speaking more from a worldwide perspective because I had seen the world by then. I was able to relate to the east coast, the west coast, London, the south, adults, kids. My understanding of the world was much bigger and I was able to make a more universal project.
You have pretty much been able to reinvent yourself, something that other rap acts from your era have struggled to do. Can you talk about your Las Supper project on which you are going a more funk and soul heavy direction?
I think the young cats in Las Supper are great musicians. They understand soul music and they also understand hip-hop. Working with them has been a lot of fun. The whole band feel allows you to perform songs that put you in the mind of the music we sampled in the ‘80s, but it’s actually being played live in the studio. I think it’s something that is refreshing, new and innovative. I’m glad to be a part of Las Supper and I look forward to doing the next album with them.
Are we ever going to hear another Kane solo album?
I don’t know what the future holds. At this point in time I’m not sure. But I never got into this business to be a star or to make a lot of money. I just wanted to be the best MC. I wasn’t about owning a Bentley. I wanted to be recognized as the illest MC. I have a flight to Canada in the morning for a show. That’s why I’m still doing it today.