By the time the 2013 Soul Train Music Awards ended last Sunday night, social media sites were ablaze with talk about the show-closing performance of Grammy-winning hip-hop legend Big Daddy Kane, who took the stage with equally iconic peers Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick.
Peep some of these snippets from one exchange on my Facebook Timeline:
“That was classic. Big Daddy K, warren g (all prepped out and cute), & Dougie Fresh!!!”
“Did you see BDK do that split? Can’t wait to see him at the Howard in a couple of months!”
“Yes. I need to go with you. Saw him in ATL. He is a performer.”
And on another site, posts read: “Vegas is more than ready! Long Live Kane!!!!” and “COME TO CANADA!!”
For as many of us who don’t yet know, as many of us are certain of Kane’s legendary status in the world of hip-hop built over more than two decades, complete with lady’s-man compliments of a smooth baritone voice and classic, suit-and-tie style.
We know his catalogue of music, including “Long Live The Kane” and its “Ain’t No Half Steppin,’” and “It’s A Big Daddy Thing” with its “I Get The Job Done.” We’ve also heard him on movie soundtracks from “Lean on Me, “Juice,” “Mo’ Money” and “Colors.” We’ve seen him in “Posse,” “Meteor Man,” “Dead Heist,” “Love 4 Sale” and “Just Another Day.” And we’ve heard collaborations, from Public Enemy and Ice Cube on the single “Burn, Hollywood Burn” to Heavy D on the single “Don’t Curse,” Busta Rhymes on the “Don’t Touch Me” remix and Patti LaBelle on the certified gold single “Feels Like Another One.”
These days, Kane, a Raleigh resident since 2000, tours with Las Supper, a music collaboration with R&B Soul singer Show Tyme, and the Hip-Hop fusion band Lifted Crew.
“It was one of my top shows I’ve ever seen, for sure,” said Adam Lindstaedt, a co-owner and talent buyer for The Pour House Music Hall on Blount Street, where Las Supper performed this summer. “It was phenomenal … like ’60s soul meets ’80s hip-hop or Big Daddy Kane with Big Band. It’s pretty unique.”
Kane remains a solo act, too, an influence Grayson Currin, co-director of Hopscotch Music Festival, realized when Kane blazed the stage after another performer canceled six hours before show time.
“What he’s done with his charisma and swag … just as an incredibly cool figure, that perseveres,” said Currin, also The Independent’s music editor. “People were really excited to see Big Daddy Kane as an unexpected treat.”
Intrigued by his longevity, I reached out to Kane through his manager, Saquan Johnson, for a quick Q & A:
Q: Wow! You had social media on fire after the Soul Train Music Awards. What does that mean to you?
I was actually just happy to be there and honored to be a part of the engagement. I’m glad everybody enjoyed the show. It was a great show overall. That’s what made it spectacular.
Q: When it comes to the hip-hop industry, some get there; few stay. What maintains your longevity?
I’ve always made music for my fans. I was never a recording artist who followed the trend and tried to do what everybody else says is hot. It’s something my fan base embraced, and it’s one of the reasons they still support me.
Q: Why do you keep answering the call?
It’s something I love and have a passion for, and a lot of people request my presence and want me to be a part of their life still. That makes me feel good. I’m not getting any younger so I don’t know how much longer I will be able to do what I do, but I definitely still enjoy it.”
Q: What is your opinion of the state of rap today?
It has lost a lot of substance. It’s become more commercial and trendy. That’s not something that hurts me. That’s something that hurts the younger artists because it makes it virtually impossible for them to have longevity in the game. At the same time, a lot of ignorance you hear in the lyrics, all I can say, is this: other than being an artist, you are a businessman. As a businessman, when you’re sitting down with record executives, it’s always better to be the person they’re laughing with, not the person they’re laughing at.
Q: OK, so, your Dapper Dan style puts you in suits, not B-boy gear. Is it authentic or gimmick?
It’s basically who I am. Growing up, I watched my father always dress fly, wearing suits and gators and snakeskin. That’s what I saw as a youth, so that’s the appeal, the appearance, I always wanted to bring across. It’s funny, my friends would always say, “Yo. Tell the truth: Is your father a pimp?” For the record, my parents are still together.
Q: What one nugget of advice would you give any aspiring musician?
Be yourself and don’t follow any trends because once that trend is gone, you’ll be gone.
Q: You, a native New Yorker, settled in Raleigh in 2000. Why Raleigh?
Raleigh just always gave me a Long Island kind of feel, not like out in the country. I thought, “Yeah. I can do this.”