Last September, at the inaugural concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Jay-Z brought out just one guest, Big Daddy Kane. It was the student offering the spotlight to the teacher: a show of respect, of civic pride (like Jay-Z, Big Daddy Kane is from Brooklyn) and a compliment. It was also an opportunity, one that Big Daddy Kane took advantage of, showing in just a few minutes why he was worthy of the gesture, and the stage.
He is 44, just one year older than Jay-Z, but their careers have taken vastly different arcs. Aging gracefully in hip-hop has been rare, though its now increasingly common, as seen in artists, like Jay-Z, who remain competitive and innovative many years into their careers, or even those like E-40 and DJ Quik, who continue releasing strong material at the margins that help them maintain regional hero status.
But Big Daddy Kane has chosen a different life he opted out. He hasnt released a proper album since 1998. He lives in North Carolina. Aging gracefully out of hip-hop is a thing too.
That hed return at all is a surprise. That hed do so in the way he has as part of a hip-hop/soul hybrid big band, Las Supper is refreshing and unexpectedly winning. On the groups new album, Back to the Future (Las Supper Inc.), he sounds energized and nimble, not that far from his late-80s heights. The conceit may be a bit staid old rapper releases old-sounding music but these songs feel alive.
On Monday night at the Blue Note the band tried out the new material for the first time on a New York stage. Big Daddy Kane was at the center, joined by the singer Showtyme, who sang un-self-consciously in a style indebted to Jackie Wilson. The rest of the band was made up primarily of members of Lifted Crew, a taut soul band.
Check out a few of the clips from the show below and let us know what you think in the comments!
Here is a clip from their recent performances in DC: