Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live The Kane vs. Eric B. & Rakim’s Follow The Leader. Which 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.

1988 was one long, hot summer. Big Daddy Kane and Eric B. & Rakim helped make that so. Just one month after B.D.K.’s Long Live The Kane grabbed the spotlight as one of Rap’s greatest debut, Eric and Ra’ returned with a sharp elbow of a sophomore in Follow The Leader. As a result, one of the greatest skills-based Rap rivalries stepped out into the open. Nearly 30 years later, Heads are still debating Rakim vs. Kane. Bringing production, sequence, and cohesion into the equation, fans must decide between two ’88 benchmark gold-certified LPs, in a ballot box battle that should not go quietly or easily. (Click one then click “vote”).


Long Live The Kane by Big Daddy Kane

– Round 1 Winner (against Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo’s Road To The Riches, 65% to 35%)

Big Daddy Kane’s 1988 debut album Long Live The Kane is a hallmark 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


Follow The Leader by Eric B. & Rakim

– Round 1 Winner (against EPMD’s Unfinished Business, 68% to 32%)

Eric B. & Rakim bulldozed the Hip-Hop landscape care of their 1987 debut, Paid In Full. Advanced e-m-c-e-e‘ing, and quintessential boom-bap scratching and production made a kick-in-the-door introduction. Living up to the anticipation of a sequel was no easy task, but 1988’s Follow The Leader faked no jacks in attempting to raise the bar—for themselves, as well as a culture taking notes.

In the midst of one of Hip-Hop’s benchmark years, this pair of New Yorkers (Queens and Long Island, respectively) produced a statement album, from title to content. Rakim’s elevated rhyme structure reached new ground on “Microphone Fiend,” a song about the craft of rapping that breaks the role down to a scientific level. Follow-up “Lyrics Of Fury” did the same, as Rakim commanded audience far beyond those seeking rap-about-Rap. Rakim’s ability to conversationally deliver complex rhymes with tremendous depth advanced the whole art-form. The group additionally stepped forward in their song arrangement and sound. The title song made the sonic leap with an eruptive charge of low-end bass, as “No Competition” assembled a detailed rhythm to show that Rakim essentially spit at simple 4-4 beats. Rakim exuded an enhanced confidence. No longer concerned with mere getting-to-know-you pleasantries, his raps owned a sense of dominance, as Eric B.’s scratches were malicious, and in-your-face. Eleven tracks deep in its original format, Follow The Leader—like so many follow-up’s, shows a group in the midst of a creative growth spurt. Two sure-handed Rap leaders made an album that snarled at its peers—without naming names. The fact that F.T.L.‘s title remains uncontested in the annals of time and perception speaks to its everlasting impact.

Album Number: 2
Released: July 25, 1988
Label: Uni/MCA Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #22 (certified gold, September 1988)
Song Guests: Stevie “Blass” Griffin (instruments)
Song Producers: (self), Patrick Adams, 45 King (uncredited)

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

Related: Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums