Big Daddy Kane Returns With a Full Band at the Blue Note Tonight
For almost three decades, Brooklyn MC Big Daddy Kane has remained a fixture of "Greatest Rapper of All Time" conversations. From his iconic singles like "Raw" and "Ain't No Half Steppin'" to a live show that ranks -- even today -- among the most revered in the genre, his influence can be heard in the syllable-slaughtering and smooth-personas of just about every great rap artist to emerge in his wake. Kane returns to the stage tonight for two shows at the Blue Note with his new supergroup The Las Supper. Backed by New York funk outfit The Lifted Crew and joined by singer Showtyme, the performance looks to prepare the world for the crew's upcoming album Back to the Future. We spoke to Kane and Showtyme about working on Kane's first new album in a decade, as well as bringing his lauded live show to the Blue Note stage.
Big Daddy Kane
What makes The Las Supper album different from your solo projects?
Kane: It's basically a vibe that showcases vintage soul mixed with vintage hip-hop and making them coincide. Lifted Crew is a funk/hip-hop band that brought live instrumentation to the table and Showtyme brought his raspy soulful voice. It came together to form a picture that portrayed soul music and hip-hop starting at the same time in the '50s and '60s and imagining hip-hop being a part of soul music and seeing it work together.
Being that you've always had an influence of soul music in your work, early on did you ever envision yourself performing and recording with a full band?
Kane: I'm gonna be honest with you, back in the day I saw MC Shan use a band and I saw LL Cool J use a band and I thought that it didn't look good. I really thought it took away from the feel of the sample from the original hip-hop tune. But then, I went on the road in '91 with Patti Labelle, the stuff I learned that I could do with a band, like stopping for a breakdown or calling for a saxophone solo, that I couldn't do with a DJ just made me feel like it was a bigger picture in a different way. But, I never saw a way of making the two connect, and [The Las Supper] is the way of making that connect. When you hear the album, you'll hear that it sounds like something Pete Rock or Premier or RZA would grab and sample.
That in mind, how different was recording The Las Supper album as opposed to your solo records?
Kane: (laughs) For one thing, it was a lot easier because I didn't have to do a whole bunch of rapping. I just had to stick a verse here and there, which made my life a lot simpler. Overall, it was just interesting watching cats come in the studio and lay their parts down in that jam session fashion where bass, guitar and drummer are in one room and the organ player's in another room and they're running it down at the same time. [It] made it feel like I was there in the Motown days.