Big Daddy Kane

The live hip hop in Leeds this year has been incredible. As we approach the end of 2015, what better way to round off the past 12 months than with the legendary Big Daddy Kane. One of the most important and distinctive voices in hip-hop, his reputation as a phenomenal live performer is well known. Mint Club was buzzing and busy in anticipation for his set. Some of our local heroes on the decks were playing classic hip hop tunes, whilst the city’s best b-boys showed the room how to really move.

BDK began strong with ‘Nuff Respect, setting the tone with his renowned breathtakingly quick delivery. He makes it look effortlessly easy. The New York veteran flowed smoothly on It’s Hard Being The Kane setting us up for a masterclass in the art of MC’ing. The crowd roared when the first bars of Set It Off came through the system. The precision and authority of Kane’s lyricism was evident on Young, Gifted & Black. He doesn’t miss a breath or a beat, and the intelligent writing is complimented by substantial content. All of this was mixed with showmanship and presence, he owned the (tiny stage).

Complex but relatable writing, coupled with rhyme structures that create a smooth flow, is the trademark Big Daddy’s style. He dropped I Get The Job Done, with a swift switch to the beat of the Rapper’s Delight instrumental partway through; the vibe of old school hip-hop was thick in the air tonight, and both the crowd and MC were loving it. With his reputation as much more than just a rapper with a microphone, it came as no surprise that tonight’s set included an old school call and repeat session with a ‘my side rocks the best’ full body work-out for the crowd. He also brought out three MCs from the crowd (including one guy who supported tonight but who unfortunately I missed) for a four bar back-to-back cypher.

It was dope to hear Just Rhymin’ With Biz live, and Kane’s impeccable flow was flawless over every hard hitting old school beat that thundered through Mint Club, Mortal Combat was a prime example. Kane also dropped his verse from Big L’s Platinum Plus, and when he performed Another Victory toward the end of the set, the speed and power of his delivery was still just as impressive as it was an hour ago. The set also included the classic joints Rap Summary (Lean On Me) and of course Ain’t No Half Steppin’ before finishing the explosive show with Warm It Up, Kane.

I think any self-respecting hip-hop fan should see Big Daddy Kane at some point in their life, and my first time seeing the man himself didn’t disappoint a bit. His expert showmanship, his refined craft and musicianship and utter professionalism make him one of the most entertaining performers around and, at 47, he ain’t made a half step yet.

Words by Sam Bennett

performers around, and at 47 he’s not made a half step yet.