The Root Interview With Big Daddy Kane
The hip-hop pioneer talks about his career, about why he is not bitter and about young MCs who don't know what they owe him.
It really shouldn't be this easy to get access to a legend in any genre of the arts, but in a nearly empty room on the second floor of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Big Daddy Kane sits patiently, giving interviews.
He's at the Essence Music Festival, this hip-hop pioneer associated with Biz Markie and the Juice Crew and the seminal hit "Ain't No Half-Steppin'," to promote his Unsung documentary special, TV One's answer to VH1's Behind the Music series. Kane's Unsung -- which will be seen throughout the season -- peers into the pioneering MC's prime years in the late 1980s and follows him to where he is today: an icon -- still alive -- and performing as much as ever.
Kane spoke to The Root about his special, about not being bitter and about why it's OK that some younger artists aren't aware of his influence.
The Root: Your Unsung documentary was remarkably candid. Was there anything that surprised you?
Big Daddy Kane: Well, I didn't know [Video Music Box creator] Ralph McDaniels didn't think I could dance. [Laughs.]
TR: Did you feel it told the whole story?
BDK: It was cool, because everybody has a story that needs to be told. Mine is actually a lot bigger than a half-hour. I wish I could've had a two-hour set.
TR: When I was watching the show and it got to your later years, it was refreshing to see how you are not bitter that things aren't what they used to be.
BDK: I mean, that's the reason I shouldn't be bitter, because I'm a rapper today. I still go out on the road to do shows. Artists still call for me to be featured on their tracks. What is there to be bitter about?
TR: Well, your profile isn't quite what it used to be.
BDK: There was a time when I was a top-slot rapper. I had all the tours and all that, but everybody gets their chance. That's the way the world works. At some point in time, you're in your youth, you're strong, you're powerful, but you get old and then you die. It's the same thing with music. There was a point when I was at my strongest; now I'm much older, but still relevant.
TR: Do you feel your skills as a rapper have improved as you've gotten older?