Class Of '88: Long Live The Kane

If you really know your Rap music then you’re surely aware that The Notorious B.I.G. or dare I say it, Jay-Z didn’t architect the infamous Brooklyn swagger that made the borough famous. They couldn’t have; the formula was already created and perfected in 1988. Point blank Big Daddy Kane is the Don Corleone of what those two legends would later embody. From the jewelry game, the braggadocio charisma, the gear, the women; Kane set the blueprint that hundreds of rappers would later trace.

Born Antonio Hardy, the man was birthed to be an MC. He’d get his feet wet on the microphone by initially ghostwriting for the clown prince of Rap Biz Markie and Roxanne Shante’. Through his pen for hire game he would start running in the circles of the legendary Juice Crew. His underground hit “Raw” would garner him a deafening buzz in streets. His ability to rhyme on a faster track like “Raw” and still maintain a flawless microphone presence with his articulate precision and sheer verbal skill was only a sneak preview of what was to come from his full length.

Originally released on June 21st 1988, Long Live The Kane would be a stunning debut. Kane would indeed dwarf his previous lyrical efforts with one of the greatest flows ever heard on “Set It Off.” Additionally, his single “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” would go down as one of the best records of all time. Sonically Marley Marl held down the entire effort with the beats. His funk heavy samples harmonized with Kane’s cadences perfectly; adding that needed energy to keep up with the speedy bars. The assistance from DJ Mister Cee and his two dancers Scoob and Scrap Lover would make his cipher complete.

With the twenty year anniversary of Long Live The Kane upon us, we speak to the man himself. King Asiatic Nobody’s Equal gives us a rundown on this classic; track by boastful track. Read and learn Rap chumps.

“Long Live The Kane”Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: That was a song that I wanted to do because a friend of Mister Cee’s presented us with that sample (“Hey, Last Minute” by The Meters). We went through the mills with us trying to convince them to give it to us; they finally gave it to us. That whole time period I had been writing to it. We went and laid it down. Mister Cee had this idea of these scratches he wanted to do; we pretty much had to pitch it. We swung over to Marley’s and dumped it. Just the title alone just set the tone for the album. Once we did it we knew it was going to be the name of the album.

“Raw (Remix)”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: That was like really my breakout song; that came before the album and before I got the deal with Warner Brothers. When Warner Brothers picked up Cold Chillin’, they only wanted [MC] Shan, [Roxanne] Shante', and they would take Biz [Markie]. Then Fly Ty put out “Raw” on Prism Records and once they saw how good it was doing independently they said "We’ll take him too and put it in this movie we got coming out called Colors."

With “Raw” it was the type of situation where I just did the joint with Biz (“Just Rhymin’ With Biz”), and it was hot in the streets and it had a nice buzz. But the only thing was people would see me coming around with Biz and doing shows but Biz started off the song and introduced it. It seemed like it was his song. What was happening I had a new song but I wasn’t getting any work because everyone thinks its Biz’s song. So I was telling Ty please let me put another single out and I guess he got tired of me asking and told me “Aight get in the studio.”

I went to see my man JC who used to work at Downstairs Records. He was like “Yo these new James Brown imports came in.” He played the Bobby Byrd joint ("Hot Pants...I'm Coming, I'm Coming, I'm Coming") and I was like give me that one right there. I bought two copies and came and showed them to Mister Cee. I told him I want the part with the off beat snare. There was a chick I was talking to in Albany Projects and she was getting tired of me going to the studio. She was like “Why don’t you chill here, I got records here that might be beats.” So I’m looking through her stuff and heard the horns from “Mama Feelgood” with Lyn Collins and I was like I need that for “Raw.” I took it to Marley’s house. When he heard it he was like “This is the Juice Crew, this ain’t Public Enemy, what’s up with all the noisy sh*t?” But it all worked out.

“Set It Off”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: Honestly I was like in this James Brown zone like “Sex Machine.” I wanted to do that whole can I count it off type of thing with a Rap song. I started rhyming before even the beat even dropped. That was the idea. I was so stuck on the idea that I had dropped two verses before we realized we didn’t have a hook (Chuckles). But it sounded dope as is.

 “The Day You’re Mine”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: I wanted to do one of those love Rap type of joints. I think I kind of made a mistake on that one; not with the song but I should have let TJ Swan do the chorus. I think me and Swan were beefing at the time, we were upset at each other. So I said f*** it, I’ll sing it myself when I should have just let Swan do his thing. It would have sounded a whole lot better for what he was doing for that time period.

“On The Bugged Tip”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, it’s like I was still stuck in the late seventies and early eighties Hip-Hop; real strong. Still blasting my Cold Crush tapes, still blasting my Treacherous Three tapes, Force MC’s. That was my zone and I really wanted to do something like that.

“Ain’ No Half Steppin’”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: I never talked about the video like this before but I’m going to keep it real for you since this is the twenty year special. Dog, that grey suit, that was my graduation suit that I never wore and it was tight on me! Like that had the most Kanye fit that was ever known to mankind! Because when I graduated from high school Biz had a show in Camden New Jersey and I was chasing that paper. You could send that diploma to my mother’s house, f*** that I’m out. When I finally got to wear the suit it was in the “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” video and that sh*t was fitting me snug as hell; like real tight. If you look at it again it was real uncomfortable!

[In regards to the six samples that were used] By the time we added “U.F.O.” (ESG) Marley was tripping. He was like “Aight man look, how much sh*t you going to put in there?” he thought it started too sound cluttered. We were beefing at the boards. He wanted the sample lower and I wanted higher. Every time someone turned around he would lower it and when he wasn’t looking I would put it back up. It was that type of thing going on. I was just feeling all of that, the sample was crazy. I remember at park jams when they used to play “U.F.O,” they wouldn’t even let the beat play. They would just throw the siren part and go to another song. That was the memory in head and that’s what I wanted in that song.

“I’ll Take You There”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: That was the first joint I did with Marley. That was before everything else. I came to Marley’s house and Marley talked to me with the chain on the door saying Biz ain’t here. I was coming to bring some lyrics to Biz and he wouldn’t let me in. So I was like just give Biz these lyrics and he was like “You writing for Biz?” Then he invited me in. He asked me to spit something and I spit something and he was digging it. Then he found “I’ll Take You There” Staple Singers sample. I told him I was in a crew called The Debonair 3 in high school and we had a routine to that. He was like “Let’s mess with it.” When he heard the part of the record where it said “Big daddy,” he was like “Ahhh.” He put the whole thing together. I didn’t perform that record live a lot. That used to be my intro; I used to just spit the first four bars then go into my other joints.

“Just Rhymin’ With Biz”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: Well what happened was I did a song called “Somethin’ Funky.” Biz was in the studio that night and so was this female group called Frick N Frack. After I finished we all just wanted to rhyme. They said they dug the beat so me, Biz and Frick N Frack kicked some freestyle rhymes off the beat. Biz started it off, then I went then they went. It was like Marley played “Somethin’ Funky” the following week on WBLS. Then he played “Rhymin’ With Biz,” and people were calling the following night asking for the Biz record. It was around the time that Frick N Frack were about to come to Cold Chillin’ and the deal didn’t work out so they had to take them off. That’s why the song ends so crazy (“Do I come off? Yup.”) Because I introduced them next and we had to shut it off right there. That was basically it. It was a mistake; that freestyle ended up becoming a song.

“Mister Cee’s Master Plan”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: Mister Cee was always to me that talented dude that would find the strangest sh*t in the world to cut up or find the strangest way to coordinate scratches. Playing block parties he had ways of coordinating scratches. There’s a Bambatta song that says “Al G rock on.” But with that echo effect it sounds like he is really saying “LG,” and those were his projects, Lafayette Gardens. So he would play that and the people would go crazy. That was him. He put it all together and it was his master plan. I just wrote a verse to it.

“Word To The Mother (Land)”

Produced By Marley Marl

Big Daddy Kane: It was a song I was really feeling. It was something I wanted to really spit a verse about. At first it was just one verse but when it came to the album I knew it had to be more. I was basically trying to get that across. Marley helped out a lot. I was happy the way it came out. In regards to when I knew this album was something; I forget who was it but it was someone in 1988 on the radio talking about albums and they were discussing Long Live The Kane, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, By Any Means Necessary.

The conversation kept going back and forth on what album was better. And they kept bringing mine up when they would talk about best albums that year. My album was either number one or number two. That made me feel like okay, cats is really digging it like that. Because at that time I was rocking that Public Enemy joint; it was my favorite. I was knocking it hard. The funny thing is, Long Live The Kane isn’t my favorite album. My favorite album was my second album, It’s A Big Daddy Thing. I had joints like “Warm It Up Kane,” “Another Victory,” “Smooth Operator,” “Mortal Combat,” “Young Gifted And Black,” and “Pimping Ain’t Easy.” It was just a longer record. The first one only had ten joints.

Big Daddy Kane

"Ain't No Half Steppin'"

Big Daddy Kane