Antonio Hardy (born September 10, 1968), better known by his stage name Big Daddy Kane, is a Grammy Award-winning American rapper and actor who started his career in 1986 as a member of the rap collective the Juice Crew. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential and skilled MCs in hip hop. 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 his song “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 1984, Kane became friends with Biz Markie, and he would co-write some of Biz’s best-known lyrics. Both eventually became important members of the Queens-based Juice Crew, a collective headed by renowned producer Marley Marl. Kane signed with Tyrone Williams’s (Marl’s manager) and Len Fichtelberg’s Cold Chillin’ Records label in 1987 and debuted the same year with the 12″ single “Raw,” which was an underground hit. Kane is known for his ability to syncopate over faster hip hop beats, and despite his asthmatic condition he is acknowledged as one of the pioneering masters of fast rhyming. His sense of style is renowned and set a number of late-1980s and early-1990s hip hop trends (high-top fades, velour suits, and four-finger rings). The backronym King Asiatic Nobody’s Equal is often applied to his moniker.
He released his debut album on Cold Chillin’ Records in the early summer of 1988 called Long Live the Kane, which featured the hit “Ain’t No Half Steppin'”. The following year Kane released his second album and biggest hit to date It’s a Big Daddy Thing, which included 1970s sample throwbacks like “Smooth Operator” and the Teddy Riley-produced track “I Get the Job Done,” which hit the R&B top 40 during the closing of the 1980s. He also had a memorable verse on the Marley Marl-produced track “The Symphony (song)” released in late 1988, which included Juice Crew members Craig G, Masta Ace, and Kool G Rap.
Big Daddy Kane appeared on Patti LaBelle’s 1991 effort, “Burnin'”. He provided the rap chorus to the single “Feels Like Another One”. He also appeared on the video release “Live in New York.”
He contributed the song “Nuff Respect” to the soundtrack of the film Juice, which starred Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur, further demonstrating his fast lyrical delivery.
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.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers during the “golden age” of hip hop (1986–1997), Kane’s experimentation with R&B beats and his alignment to the Five Percent Nation drew criticism. Later albums, such as Looks Like a Job For…, were acclaimed, but he was never able to return to the commercial and artistic success of It’s a Big Daddy Thing. However, he still tours extensively.
As an actor, he debuted in Mario Van Peebles’ 1993 western, Posse, and appeared in Robert Townsend’s 1993 film The Meteor Man. Big Daddy Kane also posed for Playgirl and Madonna’s Sex book during the 1990s. In 1996, he collaborated with 2Pac on his song “Where Ever U R”.
During the early 1990s, Jay-Z toured with Kane, and Kane helped him early on in his career – Ice-T says, “I actually met Jay-Z with Kane. Kane brought Jay-Z over to my house.” Kane himself says that Jay-Z wasn’t technically his hypeman in the true sense of the term—”he wasn’t a hypeman, he basically made cameo appearances on stage. When I would leave the stage to go change outfits, I would bring out Jay-Z and Positive K and let them freestyle until I came back to the stage.” Jay-Z was also featured on Big Daddy Kane’s track ‘Show & Prove’ from Daddy’s Home (1994), as well as in the video.
In 1995, Kane recorded with MC Hammer and Tupac Shakur on the rap song “Too Late Playa” (along with Danny Boy). He was also mentioned to signing with Death Row East in 1996. In 1997, Kane team up with Frankie Cutlass on his third single title “The Cypher Part 3” and some of Marley Marl Juice Crew veterans. In 1998, he released his final solo album “Veteran’z Day”. It received mixed reviews and did not sell well. However, Kane did not give up rapping and made many appearances in the 2000s.
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