Hip-Hop fans were taken on a trip back to the culture’s golden era on Sunday evening (Oct. 17), as KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane hit the stage for their anticipated Verzuz matchup at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The two rap stars of the ’80s vied for supremacy as lyricists during their prime years and reaffirmed that claim in front of a raucous crowd of attendees and fans viewing in person and from home.
Things got off to a hot start when Kane failed to answer the bell following host Fat Joe’s respective introductions, leading “The Blastmaster” to accuse his Brooklyn-bred counterpart of “hiding in his dressing room.” Diving into the titular track of Boogie Down Productions’ debut album, Criminal Minded, KRS set off the show on a high note, engaging the crowd with an energetic performance. Emerging from backstage in a red and white outfit and with one of his signature wide-brim hats, Big Daddy Kane wasted no time in paying homage to his late friend Biz Markie with a performance of his Long Live the Kane cut, “Just Rhymin’ With Biz.”
Taking turns reeling off their most popular hits and classic anthems, the two rap vets showed little sign of wear and tear, putting forth lively performances that showcased their respective strengths. Known as the dancing showman with elite rhyme skills, Kane put his footwork to the test throughout the night, controlling the crowd with jams like “Warm It Up, Kane” and “I Get The Job Done” while exuding a stage presence that belied his tenure as one of the game’s most bankable stars. Priding himself on being the epitome of an emcee, KRS flexed his lyrical exploits and conceptual brilliance on numerous occasions during the evening and performed conceptual masterpieces like “Black Cop” and “Sound of da Police” between demonstrative lyrical displays on cuts like “MCs Act Like They Don’t Know” and “I’m Still #1.”
As expected, the matchup between the two titans also included its fair share of guests, with “The Teacha” summoning former adversaries Das EFX to perform their signature hit, “They Want EFX,’ and collaborators Mad Lion and Buckshot to join him onstage for their own KRS-inspired classics. Not to be outdone in that area, Kane followed suit and brought out Nice & Smooth for a performance of “DWYCK,” adding to the electricity circulating throughout the venue. However, one of the most epic portions of the showdown occurred when KRS-One launched into his iconic diss track, “The Bridge Is Over,” on which KRS sends scathing shots at Kane’s Juice Crew members, most noticeably MC Shan and Roxanne Shante. To counter his opponent’s onslaught, Kane surprises the crowd with a cameo from Shante herself before brining out additional reinforcement in the form of Juice Crew members Craig G and Masta Ace for a rendition of their classic posse cut, “The Symphony.”
Credited with influencing the rhyme styles and musical approach of many of the greatest rap artists who followed in their footsteps, it was only right that KRS and Kane take it back to the essence with some impromptu rhymes of their own, with KRS going acapella with a flurry of bars, while Kane ran roughshod over Prodigy’s “Keep It Thoro” instrumental, proof that even in their latter years, the two cultural icons can still go bar-for-bar with the best of them. Soundtracked by DJ Kid Capri, representing for KRS-One and The Bronx, and Brooklyn’s own DJ Scratch, last night’s Verzuz included all of the facets of Hip-Hop you could ask for and will be remembered for its educational and entertainment value alike.
You can watch the full Verzuz over on Triller.com.