Boogie Down Productions’ Criminal Minded vs. Big Daddy Kane’s It’s A Big Daddy Thing. What’s 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.
Two Round 1 winners with nearly 3-votes-to-1 outcomes, Boogie Down Productions’ debut faces off against Big Daddy Kane’s sophomore solo effort. Before they were allies in H.E.A.L., KRS-One and B.D.K. were crosstown New York City rivals—at least in the eyes and ears of fans. The impassioned, confrontational Blastmasta maintained a totally different aesthetic on his early work than the smooth, sedated, and neatly-lyrical Kane. Both pillars of self-assurance, these two MCs have wildly different styles and sounds on these two albums, especially. B.D.P. is Dancehall with a Punk Rock grit, as B.D.K. is Rhythm & Blues, with a Soul allure. Two schools of Hip-Hop face off, which is supreme? (Click on one then click “vote”)
Criminal Minded by Boogie Down Productions
– First Round Winner (against Public Enemy’s Yo! Bum Rush The Show, 74% to 26%)
Boogie Down Productions was a wrecking ball to the perceived confines of what Hip-Hop could be. KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock masterfully (and unpretentiously) combined book smarts with street smarts. “Poetry” was literally and symbolically book-ended with “Criminal Minded,” as a former homeless teen had risen to “teacha” status alongside his real-life mentor. In New York City, B.D.P. was rushing stages with a confidence and a commanding live show. That translated to wax brilliantly, as “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over” were not only defending Hip-Hop’s history in real-time, but laying out the offensive strategy for the its biggest musical clash to date. As Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and Kool G Rap were showing the culture’s artistic fertility in other boroughs, Criminal Minded reminded all that the Bronx was where it started.
Criminal Minded, with its weapon-themed cover, packed a new brand of jacketed Rap ammunition. This LP blended violence (“9MM Goes Bang”), sex (“Remix For The P Is Free”), and straightforward songs about Rap (“Dope Beat”), all with heavy substance intertwined. In the early 1990s, debut albums by Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Snoop Doggy Dogg had more in common with B.D.P.’s debut than nearly any other 1980s Rap album. Although KRS-One would shun promoting combat in music (Scott La Rock was murdered just after Criminal Minded was released), he balanced virtue and vice as effectively as any MC since. That raw energy and potent message was supported with thumping boom-bap beats, overseen by Ultramagnetic MC’s Ced Gee. The album sampled hits by AC/DC and James Brown, as KRS’s lyrics cleverly tapped into The Beatles and Billy Joel. Criminal Minded presented an audiophile’s approach to music-making. Rather than chase the dance-floor, this album brought the energy of the streets into the clubs, with an attitude that oozed Hip-Hop bravado and style.
Album Number: 1
Released: March 3, 1987
Label: B-Boy Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): N/A
Song Guests: D-Nice
Song Producers: (self), Ced Gee, Partner Lee Smith
It’s A Big Daddy Thing by Big Daddy Kane
– First Round Winner (against Queen Latifah’s All Hail The Queen, 73% to 27%)
Less than one year after Long Live The Kane, Big Daddy Kane was faced with the difficult task of following up greatness. The Brooklyn, New York MC’s first album combined his elite reputation in battle scene and underground with his visions of career grandeur. The 1989 sophomore, as it were, owned those dreams, and dismissed the burden of proving excellence, only to add more substance to the style. It’s A Big Daddy Thing expanded B.D.K.’s range, and recruited additional would-be star producers to the party. “Young, Gifted, and Black” and “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” resonated as deft messages of Black pride, and racial awareness. “Children R The Future” showed Kane’s virtuous intentions, as “To Be Your Man” added to his strong romantic reputation. However, Antonio Hardy had no shyness in dropping crudeness in the same breath, as heard on “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy.” The Cold Chillin’ artist was a fully-formed Rap star, and used his wide scope to nearly double the length of his first offering.
For historic purposes, the most enduring quality of I.A.B.D.T. is still the MC clinic. “Warm It Up, Kane” returned B.D.K. to letter-perfect elevated rhymes, glowing with self-confidence as Rap’s best. “Smooth Operator” took the same dazzling display, and applied the BK lyricist’s skills to a slow, gentle flow. King Asiatic was a technician—capable of going mainstream, but refusing to compromise his audience in doing so. The MC presented as pro-Black, a sensitive playboy, and a top contender who refused to relinquish his belt. The album’s sonic diversity was afforded from maintaining a close relationship with Marley Marl, but adding Guy’s Teddy Riley, as well as Prince Paul and Easy Mo Bee behind the boards. It’s A Big Daddy Thing raised the standard of sophomore solos, and truly bridged the distinct gap between Kane in the ’80s and the same MC’s experimental early 1990s. This one, he got it right, and showed that once you earn the baton, why not run with it?
Album Number: 2
Released: September 19, 1989
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #33 (certified gold, November 1989)
Song Guests: Nice & Smooth, DJ Red Alert, Scoob Lover, Scrap Lover, Ant Live, Blue Magic, Chuck Stanley, Mister Cee
Song Producers: (self), Marley Marl, Prince Paul, Teddy Riley, Easy Mo Bee, Mister Cee
So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.