Wednesday, February 21, 2018

CD Odyssey Disc 1108: Big Daddy Kane

Hard to put into words how I feel right now. Let’s go with…not good. A hard day of work? No problem. A bad spell of weather or a lingering cough? I can handle that. Hell – I even had a chuckle over a cancelled holiday last weekend.

But the one thing I cannot abide is anything that messes with my ability to listen to music. My MP3 player (Sony Walkman) got a bit of water on it on my walk home and now it has decided to permanently be “on hold”. As in – it doesn’t work. So in the likely even that I can’t get it fixed I’m going to have to get another one, and it wasn’t cheap.

I’m trying to see the positive – like how my costs per use on this device are already pretty amazing – but it is ringing hollow.

Alright – here’s a music review. I’ll write another one as soon as I have a way to listen to music. Grrr….

Disc 1108 is… Long Live the Kane
Artist: Big Daddy Kane

Year of Release: 1988

What’s up with the Cover? It’s good to be king.

How I Came To Know It: I kept seeing references to Big Daddy Kane when I was looking into other rappers. He would often be cited as an early influence for a lot of artists so eventually I decided to check him out myself. This was his first album so this is where I started.

How It Stacks Up:  I have two Big Daddy Kane albums, this one and 1990’s “Taste of Chocolate”. I am on the lookout for “It’s a Big Daddy Thing” but so far it has eluded me. Of the two I do have, “Long Live the Kane” is my favourite.

Ratings: 4 stars

I love the golden age of rap – back when raps were about showcasing the craft – just a man on a mic, a funky beat and a well-placed sample or two.

Big Daddy Kane is one of the early masters of the art form, and 30 years after its release “Long Live the Kane” is still fresh and powerful. He hits hard with an easy flow and solid rhymes that know how to land a clever resolution at just the right time. Sure there are dated references to Atari and VCR’s, but that just adds to the charm when raps are this good.

Kane’s is style is reminiscent of Rakim with a front-of –the-beat frantic pace that is fast as hell, but never rushed. He’s not as good as Rakim (no one is) but he puts himself in the conversation. His raps are lush with internal rhyme and metaphor that extends across several bars before resolving.

The samples are well chosen and are worked into the songs in a way that makes you see both the original song and the new beat in a new way. Modern samples are so often about stealing a hook. In Kane’s day they were repurposed to underscore a song’s theme (either directly or by reference to the song’s original subject matter) and were only a part of something new.

Kane gets this, mixing Staples Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” chorus with an equally compelling group of backup singers belting out “Big Daddy!”  The mix is so subtle that when one vocal is happening your ear is listening for the other, creating an echo chamber of groove in your head.

The album starts with incredible pace, as “Long Live the Kane” “Raw (Remix)” and “Set It Off” are all rap classics – or should be. He loses momentum on “The Day You’re Mine”, however, which reminded me of an LL Cool J love groove, but lacking the sexy romantic quality that Cool J manages.

The album features a lot of shout-outs, where Kane gives love to all his peers and idols. This is a rap tradition that I like, although on “Long Live the Kane” there might be one too many references. I guess Kane had a lot of friends – he is certainly well loved by those who came after.

As for me, I discovered Big Daddy Kane pretty damn late indeed, but I’m glad I did. I’ve got two of his albums already, and I’m on the lookout for more, “Long Live the Kane” is the record that got it all started; his first, and still one of his best.

Best tracks: Long Live the Kane, Raw (Remix), Set It Off, Ain’t No Half-Steppin’, I’ll Take You There

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