Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live The Kane vs. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo’s Road To The Riches. What Is Better?

One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?

“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.

In the late 1980s, Marley Marl’s House Of Hits produced two entirely different star MCs. Juice Crew teammates, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap had opposing styles. Kane was polished, engaged with the audience, and often uplifting. Meanwhile, Kool G Rap was gritty, incredibly technical, and often reported on New York City’s pre-Giuliani underbelly. In their crew and in their Rap generation, these two masters of ceremony were constantly compared against each other. While they collaborated extensively in the ’80s (and still do today), they refrained from appearing on each other’s debuts. Instead, both teamed with Marley to make very differing introductory narratives. Both heralded debuts that remain frequently reissued, this apples-to-oranges debate rages on, 25 years later. Can you help settle it? Do so by voting (click one then click vote).

Long Live The Kane by Big Daddy Kane


Big Daddy Kane’s 1988 debut album Long Live The Kane is a benchmark album. The Juice Crew star combined top-shelf lyricism, uplifting substance, and Las Vegas-like showmanship, all in one place. In 10 songs, Antonio Hardy strove to prove he was the sharpest MC in Hip-Hop, while taking a very different stance than his elite peers. King Asiatic aimed to use charm and seduction just as effectively as breath control and wordplay. Kane’s debut aimed to rock your head, your body, and your consciousness as the MC shifted gears from “Raw (Remix)” into “Word To The Mother (Land),” to “I’ll Take You There.” Embracing the album format, the Cold Chillin’ Records release showed Kane’s versatility from track-to-track and feel, and also his consistency as a supreme performer.

Long Live The Kane is also one of Marley Marl’s finest hours. The Queens, New York producer supplied Brooklyn’s Kane with the arranged breaks and drums that would prove to be a touchstone in Hip-Hop ever since. Unlike Marley’s other acts, Kane timed his deliveries to perfectly hit the drums on beat in a way that made his rhymes an instrument themselves. “Ain’t No Half Steppin'” and “Word To The Mother (Land)” illustrate the point. Moreover, as Kane forecast Rap and R&B’s marriage to come, his debut acknowledged the early ’80s feel too. “Just Rhymin’ With The Biz” and “On The Bugged Tip” were the types of sparse tracks that showcased Kane’s resume as a mid-’80s freestyle-savvy battle MC. For those first accessing the rapper as a major label star, his days running around NYC bumpin’ heads and mics were completely palpable. Whether looking for bars, romance, or Black pride, Long Live The Kane is an immortal example of making a sticking introduction.

Album Number: 1
Released: June 28, 1988
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #116 (certified gold August, 1989)
Song Guests: Scoob Lover, Biz Markie, Mister Cee
Song Producers: Marley Marl

Road To The Riches by Kool G Rap & DJ Polo

If most MCs aim to be microphone marksmen, Kool G Rap’s vocal bursts blasted like shotgun shells. On debut Road To The Riches, Nathaniel Wilson’s ricochet style shined. Alongside partner DJ Polo, the Queens, New York MC presented a debut that towed the line between Gangsta Rap and top-ranking B-Boy lyricism. Unlike the groomed vocal presentation of some of his head-of-class peers, G Rap exuded a rawness. Not just in his lisped delivery, scratchy voice, and arguably Rap’s greatest cadence, G Rap’s debut was more construction boots than Bally’s. Title track “Road To The Riches” re-traced the MC’s upbringing, sweeping floors in seafood restaurants in verse one, before his hustling empire in verse two. While LL Cool J and Big Daddy Kane serenaded the ladies, G Rap waxed ex-hate with “Truly Yours.” Although the aspirations of riches are clear, K.G.R. first appeared as a blue-collar scholar. Whereas peers used pop culture references, and smooth similes, Kool G Rap’s debut had darker imagery on records like “Trilogy Of Terror.” From dope fiends to demons, this MC was getting his style from a different place—and presenting it just as well.

Given Kool G Rap’s ability to keep a rhyme pattern fluid, with short, pinball-like bars, Marley Marl fed him faster-paced beats. “Men At Work” and “Cold Cuts” let Kool G Rap out of the bullpen, attacking these beats into submission. The album serves as an ’80s time-piece. “Cars” brings elements of Gary Numan’s synth hit to a Corono chop-shop. Whether it was breaks, re-purposed Pop hits, or just drum tracks, Kool G Rap excited every track he touched. With early partner DJ Polo scratching, it was the perfect marriage of skill and grit. In 1989, hardcore Hip-Hop was not a thing. However, a 21 year-old luminary trail-blazed his own lane in his Road To The Riches. In this album’s wake, lyricists wanted more edge, and hustlin’ rappers had to step up their flows.

Album Number: 1
Released: March 14, 1989
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #78
Song Guests: n/a
Song Producers: Marley Marl

So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.

Related: See Round 1 (The 1980s) of Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums