Filed under: BK All Day,Features,Interviews,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
This one was a surprise. Thanks to some bizarre Puma/Yo! MTV Raps cross promotion, I recently got to kick it with the one and only BDK for a local magazine. As you might expect, he’s not trying to talk about the etchings in the run-out grooves of his singles, but I managed to get a few quality quotes from him regarding some of the lyrical ass-whuppings he’s handed-out over the years, and it goes without saying that I had ti bring-up G Rap. Don’t count on seeing me sporting the Doug E. Fresh Puma Suedes anytime soon, though.
Robbie:What’s your best memory of the Yo! MTV Raps show?
Big Daddy Kane: Seein’ all the hip-hop videos on MTV, finally. It was really a selected few, and now you’re seeing a lotta artists getting exposure on MTV. I used to just dig seeing that.
Do you think that it left a gap when MTV canceled it?
Nah. BET had Rap City, and Video Jukebox had a show also, where you could order what videos you wanted.
A lot of magazines used to complain that you were catering too much to the ladies in your music in the nineties, but guys like Ja Rule made a career out doing of that.
I remember a certain point when they started complaining about Ja Rule – that his music is getting too soft, it’s only for the girls. They were saying that about Puff. To me, I think it’d be the type of situation where if you have a famous recording artist and he’s successful, there’s always gonna be jealousy and haters. Especially if it’s the type of situation where it’s looks like he might possibly be getting more pussy than you!
[laughing] Good point. Do you think the popularity of videos has made people lazy with their lyrics?
I don’t think that has to do with the videos, I think that has to do with artists not having love for the music. They’re basically making albums to sell records and to make more money. It’s not because they want to show their fans that “Yo, I’m the nicest MC” or “I’m the hypest MC”. If you’re a party rapper, then you want to show your fans, “I’m the hypest MC! I’ve got the most energy! I can entertain a crowd anywhere!” If you a lyricist, then you want to show them, “Well I’m the nicest MC! Nobody can mess with me with my pen game!” A lot of artists aren’t really into it for that – for the love of hip-hop. They’re into it just to make money off the game.
Speaking of lyrical style, you and Kool G Rap seemed to have a friendly rivalry in the Cold Chillin’ era.
Me and G, we used to talk on the phone a lot, say rhymes back-and-forth to each other. I would say it was a friendly rivalry in a way of when writing, we kept each other on our toes, but we weren’t trying to make songs better than one another! I’d never try to make a song better than G’s, and I don’t think G tried to make one better than mine. We were just doing what we do.
I heard there was a battle between you and Freddie Foxxx at the Latin Quarter?
I didn’t just battle Freddie Foxxx – I battled his whole crew! It was these Tuesday night battles they used to have back at the Latin Quarters – this was back in ’85, ’86 – he was in a crew…I can’t remember. Supreme Force? Divine Force? Something like that.
Oh yeah, it was Supreme Force.
Yeah. So it was me against his crew.
So I assume you tore ’em up?
[chuckles] Well, I’ll put it like this – they called the battle a tie, but Foxxx and his crew were signed to NIA Records. They already had a record deal. They were signed to NIA, and they were in the house with Russell Simmons and Andre Harrell and Jam Master Jay. All of them were there with them – I was just a new artist from Brooklyn that nobody knew.
I also heard a tape of you against some kid called Jazz Fresh who tried to say something against you and Biz?
Jazz Fresh in Philly…I don’t think Biz was there. It was a show at a club called After Midnight. The dude – I think he was screaming out some Juice Crew…’cause there was Shan and that whole beef with Steady B and Cool C? I think he was screaming out some “Juice Crew Dis” stuff from out the crowd. I ain’t never have nothin’ to do with whatever was going on with Shan and Steady B and Cool C, but dude was trying to get out of pocket, so I called him up on the stage. But it’s in the middle of my show now, you understand what I’m sayin? So I done ate into his ass, the crowd done saw that he done lost, but dude wanna keep rhymin! It’s like “I got a show to do. And you’re not winning! It’s kinda clear that you’re gettin’ your ass tore up – but you wanna keep rhymin?” So I was just like, “Yo dog, you know what? Here’s a hundred dollars – go do somethin’ with ya self!”
[laughing] Nice. It’s become fairly common for guys like Puff to have five or six ghostwriters on an album, but you were one of the earliest to write lyrics for someone else, like Biz Markie and Shante. It sounded like you would adapt the style to the artist you wrote for, but that doesn’t seem to be the case these days.
With hip-hop – because it became so commercialized – it’s like the rules that apply to R&B and Rock ‘n Roll and Pop music now apply to hip hop! And those rules being that someone else can write a song for you. In hip-hop, if you ain’t writing your own material then you really ain’t no MC! As far as the ghostwriting thing go, what I did for Biz or Shan – that wasn’t as a ghostwriter. That was just me as the writer of the song! You look on there you see “A. Hardy”! Now a ghostwriter would be the stuff that I’ve done for Rick James or Positive K. Like Prince! Prince was a ghostwriter. Prince used to write stuff for other people under a whole different name. You didn’t even know it was Prince ’till years later. Now that’s ghostwriting!
From your second album onwards, you were credited as producing a lot of your own songs, but I assume that even on Long Live The Kane that you were involved with putting together your beats.
Yeah. I would bring beats to the studio and basically tell Marley what part of the beat I wanted sampled, like “I wanna sample this part right here” or “Can you make this part the first half and that part right there the second half?” or “Make the 808 hit here”. Marley Marl was more or less acting as the engineer. But tracks like “Lean On Me”, “Young, Gifed and Black” and “I’ll Take You There” – those are tracks that Marley just did on his own. I had no input on those three.
I remember that Jay-Z was performing with you in the nineties. Was he your hypeman or just rhyming with you?
He wasn’t a hypeman, he basically made cameo appearances on stage. When I would leave the stage to go change outfits, I would bring out Jay-Z and Positive K and let them freestyle until I came back to the stage.
Whatever happened to my man TJ Swan? Wasn’t he meant to do an album?
[surprised] Man, I haven’t talked to Swan in a very long time.
He could’ve been the first Nate Dog.
[bursts out laughing] I guess, in a manner of speaking, he pretty much was the first Nate Dog! The first hip-hop singer.
He did some good stuff. So are you working on new material?
I did a joint with Little Brother, did a joint with Joell Ortiz. Also for that RZA soundtrack “Afro Samurai”, me and Genius did a song together, and me a G Rap redid “The Symphony” on UGK new album.
Do you think you’ll make another album?
You never know what the future holds, but it’s kinda hard to say right now.
You used to shout out Melquan and Shabazz on some early songs. Were they friends from the neighborhood?
Yeah, they were just friends of mine. Melquan ended-up being Genius manager. He use to manage Genius when he was on Cold Chillin’, and Shabazz is the brother who had the clothing line Shabazz Brothers.
Are there any battles from those days that maybe people don’t know about?
[laughs] Nothing I can think of, man.
What’s the song that’s guaranteed to bring the house down when you perform? “Wrath of Kane”?
It could “Raw”, could be “Ain’t No Half Steppin”, it could be “Warm It Up, Kane”.
Is Mr. Cee still rolling with you?
Nah, he has a job now. He works at Hot 97 as one of the on-air personalities.
What about Scoob and Scrap?
Scoob just performed with me two days ago in Virginia. I haven’t seen Scrap, but Scoob still comes out once in a blue moon.
Have you been involved in the design of the Puma jacket and shoe? Or was that something that they put together?
I was kinda involved as far as the color scheme.
Because you’ve always had your own style, as far as rockin’ suits when everyone else had sweats on.
Yeah. That’s something that I always got from my father, so that’s what I basically bought into the game.
Doug E. Fresh is also involved with the Puma range. What are some of your memories of Doug performing?
In hip-hop, Doug has always been, hands-down, probably the greatest performer when it comes to putting it down on stage. He’s always had an exciting show and always knew how to bring other elements into hip-hop, so I’ve always respected him for that.
Plus he was the first guy to rock a harmonica in rap! Do you feel Puma was an important part of early hip-hop fashion? MC Shan was Puma’d out on his first LP cover.
Even before Shan, late ’70s, it was a type of situation where the two main type of hip-hop sneakers were Puma and Pro Ked. The Pro Ked was the affordable sneaker, the Puma was the “high-end”. When you had a pair of suede Puma’s with some fat laces, you was the hottest thing on the block. When you think about the whole culture of hip-hop, Puma played a major important role in it, because that was like the flyest sneaker you could have. That’s what the b-boy’s wanted to breakdance in, they’d try to get the fattest laces they coukd find, make ’em two-tone laces and all that there stuff, so you could see ’em when they was doing their backspins. It was that official sneaker of hip-hop in the late 70’s, so to see it make a comeback is a beautiful thing, ’cause it represents hip-hop! If it’s at a point in time where everything is becoming so retro – where you’re going back to the basics – you definitely have to go back with Puma, too.
Remember when everyone stopped wearing Troop after that KKK rumour?
Well I’mma be honest with you – that was something with LL. I don’t really know nobody that wore Troop. I’m from Brooklyn, and I don’t remember coming out the house, seeing nobody with Troop stuff on. I’m pretty sure that because LL used to wear it, that there were a lot of LL fans that maybe bought it. People from different states that didn’t know that in the hood – where we from – that that’s some shit you laugh at!
So how did you and LL used to get along?
I guess it was a friendly rivalry. L is my man, and he’s always been my man. I got a lotta respect for that dude, and I like to refer to him as the greatest rapper of all time.
[shocked] OK, right.
Now I didn’t say the greatest MC! I said the greatest rapper. What I mean is the longevity of his career, and the different things he’s done in the span of his career. Only other rappers that really come close would be like Tupac, Jay-Z and Eminem…I mean to what L has accomplished. L has done it for several generations, that’s why I have to put him on top.
I’d agree with that. But what about as a straight-up MC? Who would you say was the greatest?
Who’s the greatest? Shit, you talkin’ to him baby! [chuckles]
It would have to be someone like me or a KRS or a Rakim. If you wanna put Nas in that…G Rap.
That’s interesting, because there’s always been that rumor about you and Rakim taking little swipes at each other. Is that just gossip, or is there some truth to that?
[in a sly tone] I used to hear that a lot too. I don’t know. I wonder…
You never went at anyone in particular when you wrote your lyrics?
Who me? I’ve had my moments. I’ve had my moments where I’ve heard something that someone said and I didn’t really know how to take it, so just to play it safe I might throw a shot back at they ass. But we all grown now, and that’s a thing of the past so I don’t even sweat it no more.
Just for my interest, is there any name that comes to mind?
Well like I said, we all grown now, so that’s a thing of the past so I don’t even sweat it no more.
Do you ever catch-up with any of the old Juice Crew?
I talked to Shante a couple of days ago, so she’s chillin’. Still got her cute little voice. Sometimes me and Biz have shows together, and every once in a blue moon Craig G or Masta Ace, I might see them.
Didn’t Shan and Craig G have a little falling out once?
You’d have to ask them. I don’t know nothing about that.
Shan? I guess he’s cool. I seen him…I wanna say last summer. I think it was last summer I saw Shan. He was still the same Shan – weighing about 87 pounds and screaming at the top of his voice, just being Shan. So I was like “OK. At least I know everything’s OK with you!”
Big Daddy Kane – “This Is For Your Own Concern”
Big Daddy Kane – “Sing My Song”
Big Daddy Kane – “Set It Off”
Big Daddy Kane – “Wrath of Kane (live)”
Big Daddy Kane – “Mr. Pitiful”
Big Daddy Kane feat. Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip- “Come On Down”
Big Daddy Kane – “Rest In Peace”
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