Big Daddy Kane

Very Best of Big Daddy Kane

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Review

How do you become a hip-hop legend and still remain somewhat underappreciated? If you're Big Daddy Kane, you hit the scene right after one of the greatest MCs ever to pick up a mic (Rakim), record lots of battle rhymes when your peers (KRS-One, Chuck D.) are getting political, and cross over to RB listeners before hip-hop figured out that it didn't have to compromise to do so. Kane was one of the prime movers behind the quantum leap in lyrical technique that took place during the late '80s, rapping with excellent diction at a more frantic pace than the smooth, effortless-sounding Rakim. Time has been kind to his work, as Rhino's The Very Best of Big Daddy Kane demonstrates. Its selections concentrate mostly on Kane's first (and best) two albums, pulling six tracks from Long Live the Kane and seven from It's a Big Daddy Thing. The opening trio of classics -- "Raw," "Set It Off," and "Ain't No Half-Steppin'" -- are flawless bids for immortality all by themselves, and haven't lost an ounce of energy, nor has the storming live cut "Wrath of Kane." Despite his reputation as a battle MC, Kane's Nation of Islam beliefs did pop up in the occasional message cut, represented here by "Word to the Mother (Land)" and "Another Victory." And even if they made purists uneasy at the time, Kane's crossover efforts were where his image as hip-hop's leading loverman came together. "Smooth Operator" and "Cause I Can Do It Right" hold up just fine, and while the Teddy Riley-produced "I Get the Job Done" has a jarringly different ew jack sound, the spirit behind it is pretty infectious all the same. (The allad "Very Special," on the other hand...well, it made the charts.) Even so, there's no better place than this to get acquainted with one of the golden age's greatest rappers. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi