Few debut albums packs the punch of Big Daddy Kane's 1988 classic "Long Live The Kane". Kane had originally started out lurking in the background, writing and/or co-writing some of his good friend Biz Markie's best songs (including the immortal "Vapors") and acting the hype man. As soon as he convinced Marley Marl to let him record some songs of his own it quickly became clear that Kane was not only Young, Gifted and Black but also that he was a rap superstar in the making. Coupled with the super funky, bottom heavy beats by Marley, Kane would showcase a rapid fire flow and intense delivery without ever missing a beat. In fact his delivery was often hype and calm at the same time, making rhyme sound as natural as breathing for the young emcee. Jaw dropping lyrical exercises like his solo singles "Raw" and "Ain't No Half Steppin'" instantly made him a favorite amongst true hip-hop connoisseurs and street dwellers. At the same time his smooth voice, good looks and appreciation for the fairer sex (displayed on jams like "The Day You're Mine" and "I'll Take You There") made him a favorite amongst the female crowd as well. Puff Daddy and BIG would later look to "Long Live the Kane" as a sort of blueprint for creating "Ready to Die", another classic album that perfected the balance between the hardcore and the sexy without falling in neither the studio gangsta trap or watering down the music with corny pop tracks. And the influence on BIG is just one example, listening to Kane's debut it's quite amazing how much of the albums lyrics have been sampled, flipped and borrowed by everyone from Jay-Z to GZA, ODB to Gang Starr, and so on.
While Big Daddy Kane never even to this day have lost his lyrical ability , he would never again sound as amazing and comfortable rhyming as he did on the 1988 Cold Chillin' debut. Kane also had a good ear for music and would often bring ideas to his producer Marley Marl, who did a marvelous job of flipping those samples, creating unforgettable hip-hop bangers by sparking up old jams by The Emotions, ESG, Bobby Byrd, Booker T, and of course James Brown. It was a sure shot way to make certain heads would be kept nodding and feets tapping while ears peaked to Kane's every word. Although Kane has been quoted as saying that there were at times quite a lot of tension in the studio between the two, for the listener it was a match made in hip-hop heaven. And sometimes when two people have to fight for their ideas create the strongest music as was likely the case here. Big Daddy Kane was for example unaware that a new mix of "Raw" would be used for the album, as he told Brian Coleman in his excellent "Check The Technique". Using the same beat Marley decided to use parts of Kane's verses from the original demo session which also featured Kool G Rap (that legendary version is also featured in full in the compilation below). In the end Kane was happy with the results.
As was the custom for an LP in the '80s "Long Live the Kane" consisted of only ten tracks and a running time of roughly 45 minutes. Simply put, just enough to satisfy the listener, but at the same time to short not to leave a striking hunger for more. While revisiting Kane's debut extensively the last couple of weeks, I realized that there was enough B-sides, demos and unreleased material that captured that same magic chemistry created between Marley Marl and Big Daddy Kane in 1988. Focusing only on tracks produced between 1987 and 1989 in collaboration between this duo, the aim of this nine track compilation is to create a little companion piece to the herein discussed album. A few of these songs were even recorded for "Long Live The Kane" ("Something Funky" and "This is For Your Own Concern" to be exact), while the majority of the others are B-sides to singles from the album. When the label pushed for the laid back ladies anthem "I'll Take You There", Kane headed back to the studio to record "Wrath Of Kane" to at least have something more rugged for the street cats on the flip. The only perhaps "controversial" decision is the inclusion of "Young Gifted & Black" as it actually appeared on "It's Hard Being the Kane", but seeing as it's still a collaboration between Kane and Marley in the given time frame I found it interesting to hear it in this setting. The version of "Rap Summary (Lean On Me)" heard here, however, is the original version of the song from the "Wrath Of Kane" 12" (1988) rather than the Marley remix from the aforementioend LP.
With that being said, this is undoubtedly a great way to kill 40 minutes of your time and I hope it will be as pleasurable to y'all to listen to as it is for me. So let's take a trip down memory lane with Marley Marl and Big Daddy Kane, two of the greatest to ever touch a microphone and a sampler, respectively. And while I'm at it, don't forget that these cats both have relatively new projects out on the market right now. Big Daddy Kane's group with singer Showtyme and live band Lifted Crew released their official debut "Back to the Future" last year, while Marley produced the entirety of Lords Of The Underground latest EP, "LOTUG 20, Vol. 1" only a couple of months ago. So go and support the legends! And last but not least, a big shout out and thanks to DJ Mike Nice and anybody else responsible for digging up these gems.
02. "The Wrath Of Kane"
03. "Something Funky"
04. "For Your Own Concern"
05. "Young, Gifted & Black"
06. "Rap Summary (Lean On Me)"
07. "Raw: Original Demo Version" (Ft. Kool G Rap)
08. "The Symphony" (Ft. Master Ace, Craig G & Kool G Rap)
09. "Word to the Mother (Land): Outro" [Original 12" Mix]
BIG DADDY KANE - "¨WRATH OF KANE"
BIG DADDY KANE - "¨WRATH OF KANE"