Mister Cee Reveals Slick Rick Once Fully Stepped to Big Daddy Kane…Strapped (Audio)
DJ Mister Cee is the latest guest on Cipha Sounds & Peter Rosenberg’s Juan Epstein podcast/show. In Part 2 (Part 1 ran earlier this month), The Finisher speaks to his friends and former HOT 97 colleagues in depth about the two figures most closely associated with the Brooklyn, New York DJ/radio legend: Big Daddy Kane and The Notorious B.I.G.
The interview is well over an hour, but covers some insights (through casual conversation) that Heads will likely have never heard.
The 16:00 mark is where things jump right in, and get interesting. Mister Cee reveals, as a first-personal witness the time Slick Rick pulled a gun on Big Daddy Kane. Presumably happening in 1988 or 1989, prior to Rick’s unrelated incarceration, tempers started flaring between the Bronx and Brooklyn star pals. “First of all, they was best friends at one point,” says Cee, who was Kane’s DJ and producer at the time. Cee points out that in Rick’s “Teenage Love” video, Kane is the girl-grabbing antagonist, a playful chide between the emerging MCs in the five boroughs and beyond.
On tour with Public Enemy, Kane and Rick were co-headliners. With the shared title card, the pair of MCs rotated nightly on who took the prime slot. Over time, it became apparent that Slick Rick was late, forcing Kane to take the stage prematurely. After a while, suspicions flared that the onetime Doug E. Fresh partner was tardy on purpose, giving his ego and his stage show an unfair advantage. Feeling “the wrath of Kane,” Slick Rick was approached by an upset Juice Crew MC in his tour bus one night after the lateness had grown to be a recurring and suspicious issue. According to a witnessing Cee, the eye-patched MC told his friend, “Fuck that, I’m Slick Rick the ruler!,” at the mere suggestion he was deliberately arriving late. Speaking that way, Kane reportedly put hands on his friend. Responding to the tussle, Slick Rick reportedly drew a small .22 caliber pistol and aimed it as his friend. Luckily, no shots were fired, and the tour progressed. However, according to Mister Cee, the iconic MCs were at odds until after Slick Rick’s release from prison in the late 1990s, until the ice melted.
Around that same time, Cee moves into a more colorful, and light-hearted story. Back then, both MCs would finish their stage shows casually working in the hotel name where they were staying into verses and freestyles. In-the-know groupies took guesses and showed up later. Kane and Rick reportedly had “elevator battles” in this grand city hotels, where they would take the elevator down, changing outfits each time, to pick-up and drop-off women in waiting. At the sound of it, both lyrical giants enjoyed the fruits of their fame. For those who enjoy the rarely-discussed “pillow stories” of the day, Mister Cee opens up later in the interview, with some details that leave little to the imagination.
Near the 25:00 mark, Ciph’ and Peter press Cee about the “Kane vs. Rakim” era. Mister Cee discusses some of the mystique of the rivalry, and also adds that Ant Live, who was Kane’s manager at the time (as well as Eric B.’s brother), may have been an intensifier to the rivalry. Cee also says the fact that both MCs were involved with the Five Percent Nation Of Gods & Earths contributed to the challenge between them, which started in skills, and grew due to a perceived turmoil in the friendship. In discussing this, Cee goes in on how Kane reacted to another perceived diss, this time from LL Cool J.
By the 31:00 time, things move to 1991. It’s interesting that right as Big Daddy Kane and Mister Cee started to part ways creatively, The Notorious B.I.G. serendipitously appeared. Notably, Cee returned from The Princess Of Darkness Tour (presumably, since this was late 1991), to find DJ 50 Grand on his doorstep with the “famous Biggie Demo” the very same night. As Cee plays some of that demo, Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg ask what made a great rapper sound so compelling at a time when Cee was presumably hearing lots of talented voices. Cee explains that B.I.G. reminded him of another Big: “This is the second comin’ of Kane, all over again. Where Brooklyn and New York City Hip-Hop was at, at that time.” At a time when Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, and Above The Law were running things, Cee heard the next wave of New York City in the voice of Christopher Wallace. “To hear this, I’m like, ‘This is what we need.'”
Mister Cee also adds that the first label to make an offer at Biggie was not Uptown Records (where Puff Daddy was working, before starting Bad Boy), it was Relativity Records. Calling the offer “a shitty deal,” Cee says it was not entertained. However, Biggie Smalls (as he would have likely stayed known) could have been label-mates with Common Sense, Chi-Ali, and The Beatnuts. How things could have been vastly different…
At 50:00, Mister Cee opens up about his dissipating relationship from Bad Boy Records and Biggie’s career, by 1997’s Life After Death. Notably, the co-executive producer of Ready To Die was just on a one-album deal, and the most critical element phased out on the sophomore double-disc, while Easy Mo Bee and DJ Premier were also scaled back from their extensive roles on the ’94 debut. Cee adds that after Biggie’s death, he has been brought in to assist Born Again and The Notorious soundtrack. The mentor speaks highly of Puff, despite this presumably complicated relationship.
As the interview nears its end, there’s some interesting discussion between the three DJs. Around 1:20:00, Cee talks about some of the DJ’ing he did on Ready To Die. The three go in-depth on the innovative three-pronged scratch sequence on “Gimme The Loot,” while Cee explains his modest equipment. Some of the best quality of this conversation comes from its root in DJ discussion. From what order certain 12″ singles dropped, to recalling promo personnel from the early ’90s, these three friends seemed to simply make a chitchat public.
Given Mister Cee’s incredible role in mining talent, knowledge of records, and rhythmic timing, is he due for a third musical act that he works closely with?
Lastly, does Kane and Rick’s heated confrontation show how, independent of the commonly-blamed media or record execs, how ego and ambition can fuel near-violent, and costly feuds in Hip-Hop?
On a semi-related note, Big Daddy Kane gets the bye for Round 5 in Ambrosia For Heads’ “Finding The GOAT” series—a comprehensive bracket-style tournament to crown Hip-Hop’s greatest MC. The tournament has been going on for more than six months, with a winner being determined in just two weeks and change.