Review: Big Daddy Kane, Waterfront, Norwich, finds the legendary rapper on top form
- Credit: Archant
The Grammy-award winning Brooklyn rapper gets the party started to prove why he has been so influential since ruling the roost back in the 1980s golden age of hip-hop.
When I mention the name Big Daddy Kane to people I generally get two reactions, 'Big Daddy who?...' mostly or a nod and the immediate realisation that the person I'm talking to is a bit of a hip-hop head.
To paraphrase Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane is 'your favourite rapper's favourite rappers.' He has been a heavyweight name in hip-hop since the late-80s but unlike others who have striven to keep their style 'current' by adapting to musical trends, the New-York born Antonio Hardy has stood ever present in the background. He is the same Kane now with the same aura and the same swagger as the Kane that released a heck of a one-two punch of albums in 1988 and 89 (Long Live the Kane and It's a Big Daddy Thing respectively) and would go on to a put out five further albums throughout the 90s.
Big Daddy Kane is a professional, a debonair, lyrical ladies-man who has basically remained that way ever since the 'golden age of hip-hop', which is perhaps why most average joe's know their Biggies and their Jay-Zs but the only Big Daddy's they're familiar with are Adam Sandler and Shirley Crabtree.
His style is at first glance a bit like the decadent hip-hop we see so much of in the mainstream (see the album art for It's a Big Daddy Thing) but this is accompanied by raw, smart rhymes over raspy, funky break beats and after a career spanning 30+ years, he regularly finds himself on greatest MC's of all time lists.
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Promoters Bam!Bam!Bam! and Diplomats of Sound have been spoiling Norwich this year with KRS-One back in February and now Big Daddy Kane, both artists I figured I'd have to go to London or a big festival to see.
The night opened with Norwich stalwart DJ Chrome spinning classic tunes, his partner in crime Illinspired was also in the house, and prior to their them turning things over to Kane's DJ (whose name I didn't catch either time he said it but it sounded like 'DJ Snazz', somebody please correct me).
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Snazz's hype-game is pretty strong, doing a fast hip-hop roll call featuring 20 seconds from numerous seminal tunes by KRS, Jeru the Damaja and DJ Premier finishing on a nice A Tribe Called Quest medley before the man came on stage.
If the DJ's hype tunes weren't fast enough Big Daddy Kane explodes onto the mic with 1993's Nuff Respect, if anyone in the Waterfront doubted his status I'd say he silenced them in those first few minutes. Before we even get to verse two, Kane's on to the next tune which is a style many artists employ who aren't touring a new album and want to get through as much of their vast back catalogues as possible for overseas fans that only get the chance to see them every few years.
If you're a purist it can be a little bit of a bummer not hearing the whole thing but on a grander scale it's a compromise that keeps the energy levels high and keeps the crowd engaged.
Engaged they were (for a Sunday night at least) with shouts for the Juice Crew and 'Warm it up Kane!' interspersing the high velocity hits which the DJ would change up here and there with other classic beats from Kane's 90s contemporaries. Things only felt more old-school when someone in the crowd gave Kane a bunch of his LP's to sign.
Kane's rhymes are bragadocious and clever but never above understanding and his distinct tone sounded wonderful spitting lines like 'Clever like a trick hand, sinkin 'em like quicksand. Makin' the competition, feel like they need a kickstand.'
Somewhere between Morpheus-like wisdom and Ric Flair-like swagger lies Big Daddy Kane and for a guy in his late 40s he looks pretty incredible.
Pausing only for a moment to acknowledge lost artists like Big L and Guru and take a selfie, Kane used his veteran MC skills to build to a big crescuendo to close the show which was of course his biggest hit, 1988's Ain't No Half Steppin'.
Things at the Waterfront popped harder than your average Sunday and probably harder than other Friday or Saturday gigs, with Big Daddy Kane leaving us satisfied and just that little bit wanting more, which is what a great entertainer is all about right?