Big Daddy Kane: ‘Ain’t No Half Stepping’ At 50
Born Antonio Hardy and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Big Daddy Kane was an influential member of the Juice Crew, a hip-hop collective that counted among its members, other hip-hop legends like Biz Markie and Kool G Rap. The name Big Daddy Kane came from a variation on Caine, David Carradine’s character from TV show Kung Fu and a character called “Big Daddy” Vincent Price played in the film Beach Party.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked one of Kane’s hit songs “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'” #25 on its list of The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time, calling him “a master wordsmith of rap’s late-golden age and a huge influence on a generation of MCs.”
In 1991, Kane won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his performance on the Quincy Jones collaborative track “Back on the Block” off Back on the Block.
Kane is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers during the “golden age” of hip-hop (1986–1997) and was even recognized in the city of Brooklyn with an official key to the city. Even to this day, there are few emcees in hip-hop that can hold a candle to veteran MC, Big Daddy Kane’s, live show. A showman through and through, Kane doesn’t just walk around the stage back and forth as many hip-hop artists do nowadays.
At the age of 50, the legend still looks younger than many of his peers and fans, and this might be why:
“I always thought that performance was very important, to be able to deliver great lyrics and also put on a great performance, to have that type of visual where people would take to it, where they’d want to dress like you or have pictures of you hanging up on the wall.”
“It’s all music,” Kane explains. “Marvin Gaye could go from ‘Got to Give It Up’ to ‘Let’s Get it On,’ James Brown could go from ‘The Big Payback’ to ‘This is a Man’s World.’ It’s all music; it’s about people respecting an art form. Once you appreciate an art form, you’re open to everything. If you have these tight ears that’s only trying to hear one thing, that’s where you’re gonna be stuck at.”
He adds, “That goes for artists too—if you’re only gonna walk around stage with a mad screw face on, trying to look tough, more than likely people will come to your show and say, ‘That was the worst performance I ever seen.’ You have to take the time to really respect the art form, then you’ll have a strong fan base for years upon years because they love what you’re putting out, they love your stage presence, they love what you’re about and stand for.”
It is because of that stage presence that Kane was asked to perform and lead a workout for Hip Hop 4 Health, a free interactive, all-ages family day in the park to get you moving with free health screenings, information, physical fitness demonstrations, fun courses and more.