Big Daddy Kane Reveals KRS-One Is The Battle He Really Wanted & Why It Never Happened (Video)
Big Daddy Kane was a recent guest on Ed Lover’s Sirius XM Backspin show. In addition to adding some context to his championing Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ willingness to work with and support Hip-Hop pioneers, B.D.K. looked back at key career moments with the former “Yo! MTV Raps” co-host.
Ed Lover pressed Kane, an MC revered among the best to ever do it, about his opinion of his closest competition. “My greatest competition? [Chuckles] I mean, I guess I would probably have to say Rakim, because [he] is the person that everybody wanted me to battle. Everybody wanted to see a [Big Daddy] Kane [vs.] Rakim battle.” Throughout the ages, the two New York MCs’ 1980s verses have been analyzed for potential subliminal disses at one another, despite Kane’s especially close ties to Rakim’s then-partner Eric B. and brother Ant Live. Less than one year ago, Kane even stated he would battle Rakim, today, for a $500,000 prize to the winner.
Speaking candidly to Ed Lover in 2015, Big Daddy Kane started to wax some of that ’80s Rap bravado. “Mentally, I didn’t feel no competition… I mean, I guess the proper way to answer your question would be: ‘Yeah, Rakim would probably be that person.'”
However, the onetime Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records superstar elaborated. “It was the type of thing, where, in my mind, [KRS-One] was the battle I really wanted. ‘Cause see, Rakim is a great, great, incredible lyricist. Like, that brother’s rhyme-style is impeccable. But he’s not a battle rapper. So I already knew how that would go—’cause he’s not a battle rapper; KRS is a battle rapper.”
While Kane and KRS worked together in the “Stop The Violence” campaign and the H.E.A.L. album, the Brooklyn lyricist equated the battle to a brutal boxing match. “I knew that that was gonna be very, very competitive. I knew that was gonna be one of those ‘I’m gonna have to take a few jabs to the chin, upper-cut, few to the ribs’ [battles]. I thought that that would have been a great battle.”
Ed Lover followed up with a question that historians often want to know: why did Big Daddy Kane not participate in the battle between KRS’ Boogie Down Productions and The Juice Crew, often referred to as “The Bridge Wars.” Beyond his ties to Brooklyn, amidst a largely Queens-based crew, Kane revealed another reason. “I was the new dude in [the Juice Crew], and [MC] Shan didn’t like me.” While he says he and “The Bridge” creator are like “brothers” today, in 1987 the Queens MC exclusively referred to B.D.K. not by name, but as “new nigga.”
As Shan, Roxanne Shante, and Kane’s mentor, Marley Marl were involved in one of Hip-Hop’s greatest battles, he and B.D.P. were building a personal, off-the-mic friendship. “At that same time, KRS-One and Ms. Melodie helped me move out of my parents’ crib. I remember like it was yesterday: KRS-One carrying a gray velvet couch down the stairs, Ms. Melodie right behind him with a big-ass 25” TV under her arm. We went to the basement apartment that I moved into, in Canarsie. [We] hooked everything up, sat there and drank a six-pack of Heineken and watched The Color Purple.” KRS’ spouse at the time, Melodie, who died in 2012, was a Brooklyn native who was a strong affiliate to Boogie Down Productions and Stop The Violence movement. “That’s how me and KRS was rockin’: we were cool. And he had respect for me, so I wouldn’t intervene.”
However, Kane did reveal some more context on the story to Backspin. Beyond the friendship, the Bedford-Stuyvesant native says that eventually Cold Chillin’ Records CEO Tyrone “Fly Ty” Williams asked the white-hot MC to lyrically retaliate to KRS-One, DJ Scott La Rock, and Boogie Down Productions. “This was a little bit after ‘The Bridge Is Over’ came out—I remember Fly Ty [Williams] coming to me, ‘I need you to end this, but don’t tell Shan that I asked you to.'” Kane recalls explaining, “‘KRS is my man. I’m not endin’ that; that’s between them. [MC Shan] don’t even speak to me.” Marley Marl’s business partner reportedly used the incident to question Kane’s loyalties to the Rap crew which also included Biz Markie, Craig G, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, and others. “He said, ‘So are you sayin’ you’re not Juice Crew?’ I said, ‘Well, you’re sayin’ that.’ ‘Cause a few months prior, he was like, ‘Yo, you’re down—but you’re not quite Juice Crew, yet.” According to Big Daddy Kane, that moment is where the conversation ended. “So I was asked, not by Shan, but by the label owner. But like I said, Kris was my man. So I wouldn’t do it. But yeah, that’s the battle that I really wanted. That one would have been amazing.”
Apart from crews, how do you see a 1988 battle between Blastmasta KRS-One and King Asiatic Nobody’s Equal?
Related: Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live The Kane vs. Eric B. & Rakim’s Follow The Leader. Which Is Better?