Interview: Big Daddy Kane

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The word legendary gets banded around far too freely these days that on many occasions, it loses it’s majesty. In this instance, it’s unquestionably correct. Hearing that Big Daddy Kane was heading to our shores for a series of five UK dates was enough for Jessica Daly to cast aside her beloved lenses and get the Brooklyn-native on the blower for a bit of a history lesson…

First of all – where did the name Big Daddy Kane come from? 

The name came from two different things; an old Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello movie and my fascination of martial arts and the David Carradine character Caine from the tv show Kung Foo.

You started battle-rapping in ’92. What drew you to that?

It was something I got into. I wanted to rhyme with my older cousin but he told me I wasn’t old enough! He already had a crew so I thought if I could write rhymes better than his crew members he would put me down.

After that you got involved with Biz Markie. How did you link up?

Me and Biz met at this Mall in Brooklyn and we battled. After the battle, Biz thought I was dope and told me I should get with him and perform. He guaranteed me a record deal.

Biz had a bit of a comedy sketch type thing going on. I heard you had a little song on his shows?

It was sort of a sketch – the Stacey Lattishaw routine. We changed the name of one of her songs from The Perfect Combination to On Her Menstruation; it was a like a comedy stage routine.

You then joined Cold Chillin Records. When did you first meet Marley Marl and the rest?

It was through Biz. He’d somehow connected with Marley out in Queens and ended up doing the human beat box with him. They clicked and through that, he met Shan. They made the Def Records crew song with Shanté and started touring together; it was him beat-boxing and Shante rhyming. Biz then put out some of his own music and the rest is history.

Do you think there’ll ever be another Juice Crew album?

I don’t know man. There was talk about doing a song so an album is always a possibility, you never know.

I‘ll keep my fingers crossed! When you started touring you brought Jay Z and Positive K out at some of your shows. What attracted you to involving them?

With Positive K, it was his energy on stage. Pos liked to jump around, very energetic and he had a lot of funny rhymes which put me in the mind of Biz in a sense. With Jay Z, he had this real fast rapping style which was new and unique and it really opened up people’s mind on stage. I was recording new music with both of them, trying to get Positive K a new record deal and trying to get Jay his first one. I figured if we could get them on tour, we could get people to see them live and get them some credibility.

You certainly did that! You were involved in one of the most infamous shows in Hip Hop history. Madison Square Garden. The legendary show with you, Biggie, ‘Pac, Shyheim and Scoob. What does the show mean to you now knowing what we do now? 

It was great to be able to see ‘Pac and Biggie together on stage and as friends. They came together. ‘Pac was in New York filming Above The Rim and Biggie called Mr Cee and asked if he could bring ‘Pac with him. They came together to the show it was nice seeing them sharing the stage. ‘Pac was like the hottest Hip Hop artist at that time and Biggie was the up and coming one. It was part of the Budweiser Superfast. It was cool man; especially as the recording is still out there and feels live even today.

I know you’ve had to squash a rumour or two like the classic ‘Kane and Madonna’. I’m sure you’ve had to tell a lot people that you didn’t actually sleep with her – are there any other rumours you’ve had to squash like that one?

Not that I can think of. There’s been many but none really come to mind at the moment. There’s always going to be rumours; sometimes they’re good and naturally, other times they can can be negative or get personal. Whatever the situation; your name’s still in the limelight. Madonna’s such a sweetheart; I wouldn’t want to lie and pretend like yeah we had sex. That was never the case.

I appreciate your respect! Let’s talk about touring – which one have you enjoyed the most?

Probably my tour in ’93 – Chocolate City. I’d learned and experienced a lot from touring previously – the headliner making you feel like your music was at a much lower level, restricting your access to certain parts of the stage to keep you at bay. When I took my own tour out I went with MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, 3rd Bass and Digital Underground (this was when Tupac was still one of their dancers!) I made sure that their music was just as loud as mine, made sure they had access to the whole stage and after the show, we’d kick it, go in the parking lot and have water gun fights or head into the city and play basketball during the day. I’ve seen the tours where the headliners distance themselves from the on other artists so I wanted to make it more more like a family thing; that whole Motown feel to the tour.

I heard on one of your tours with Digital Underground that there was a little issue with MC Serch. Didn’t he have to hide on your tour bus a few times?

Ha Ha! Yeah, I believe it was somewhere like Mobile or Birmingham, Alabama. He got onstage and gave his speech about the black man being God and the rednecks down there didn’t take to it too kindly!

I’m guessing that didn’t go down too well?! It’s like they’re only open to hearing what they want to hear! Before I go off on a rant, let’s talk about your last album Veteranz Day. You produced a lot of the beats – what equipment did you use and how long had you been producing?

I’ve been producing stuff pretty much since the first album. There’s a lot of stuff there I didn’t get credit for so I started to learn how to work drum machines on my own after that.

Compared to your other projects, did Veteranz Day have the biggest collection of your own beats or had you just not been credited for others? 

In terms of beats, the only album I didn’t get credited for was Long Live The Kane. I have credit for other songs I’ve produced like my album It’s A Big Daddy Thing – it’s probably either that or Veteranz Day that includes the most self-made beats.

The UK leg of your tour sees you take in five dates. When were you in the UK last?

I think I was here last year at some point.

Have you heard any UK Hip Hop recently?

Not in a long time! It’s been a while.

From what you have heard, what do you think of it?

What I’ve heard and what I’ve come to love is where you have the UK MCs that are heavily influenced by Boom Bap. What I’ve heard either has that bit of Drum & Bass vibe to it or that really gritty Boom Bap like back in the 80s, with a little twist; I like that. It’s  Boom Bap but at the same time but they kinda I dunno put that jazzy, sort of Soul 2 Soul type of feel to it as well. I don’t know how best to explain it but it’s a unique blend and I love it!

Hopefully you’ll be getting a taste of some new stuff when you’re over here with the tour. Would you ever be interested in working with UK artists?

Sure! I would if it was the right project.

I’ve heard talks of possibly an album coming out with you and DJ Premier? Is that still happening?

That’s something that we’ve put in the back. We spoke about it and then I got wrapped up in some stuff and now he’s super, super busy with projects. It’s something that I don’t know if it’s still even a reality. We both really want to work on something together but it’s a matter of finding the right time; everything’s pretty hectic right now.

Finally and most importantly, will we be ever getting another Big Daddy Kane album?

That’s the question! I’m not against doing one but again, it’s a matter of finding the right time and whether I’m feeling it.

We need more Kane !!

Ha Ha! We shall see. We shall see.


Big Daddy Kane’s tour sees him take in Whitstable, Bristol, Norwich and London from this evening. If you want to catch the man in action, cop your tickets here