Big Daddy Kane Details The Rich History Of How The Juice Crew Started (Video)
Big Daddy Kane is the latest guest on Drink Champs. The Brooklyn, New York lyrical legend is in a casual mood, often joking during the three-hour episode. N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN interview the Juice Crew MC about a number of highlights from his life and career. There are probing questions about a rumored Madonna relationship, requests for groupie details, inquiries about just how close he was to real-life gangsters and pimps, as well as confirmation as to whether Slick Rick really pulled a gun on him while on tour with LL Cool J.
For lovers of Hip-Hop music and folklore, near the 10:00 mark, Big Daddy Kane’s writing credits for Biz Markie become an interesting discussion point. N.O.R.E. asks the Brooklyn, New York legend if he wrote Biz’s 1988 single, “Vapors.” Notably, the Rap video hit about escalating status within the Juice Crew family featured a second verse about Kane’s own come-up.
This leads to noteworthy facts about Kane’s beginnings, and track record for writing Rap hits while as a high school student. “The first [record I wrote for members of the Juice Crew] was some of ‘Nobody Beats The Biz.’ Biz [Markie] came to me, he was like, ‘Yo, I got this [reworking of The Wiz advertisement with a unique flow].’ He was like, ‘Flow like [I am imitating], just put something together.’ So that was the first record.” Kane said that in those days, he spent a lot of time with Biz Markie, who grew up in various parts of New York City. It allowed him to mimic aspects of the MC/producer/DJ’s style effectively. At the time, Kane was not yet knighted into the Juice Crew, but B-I-Z was with Mr. Magic and Marley Marl’s would-be legendary collective. The concept of “Vapors,” which became a video single and a song recreated by other artists, including Snoop Dogg, was all Biz. Kane was urged to speak with singer T.J. Swan, and Biz’s DJ, The Legendary Cool V, to get their stories. As a note, DJ Cool V now publishes a series of Juice Crew-related books.
Through family and friend connections, Biz Markie and Big Daddy Kane met at the Albee Square Mall in Downtown Brooklyn. On Goin’ Off, Biz dedicated a song to the landmark (later paid homage to by R.A. The Rugged Man). As Kane prepared to battle Biz at the retail plaza, he told mutual associates who were strongly hyping up the local sensation, “Let me meet him. But I need y’all to understand something: after today, when I [beat him in a battle], from now on, when you go to this Biz Markie D dude, you tell him about MC Kane.’ So we went over there. I asked Biz to battle. We battled, and after the battle, Biz was like, ‘Yo, you’re dope, man. You should get down with me. If you get down with me, I promise you, man, we gonna make a record one day.'” This mid-’80s introduction predated Biz’s joining the Juice Crew. It was in the same mall when Kane and Biz were subsequently hanging out, where an encounter with a woman led to Biz coining the term “she caught the vapors.”
Kane also says that he wrote early records for Roxanne Shanté. The day he delivered the written rhymes for “Nobody Beats The Biz,” he arrived at Marley Marl’s House Of Hits home studio in Astoria, Queens ahead of Markie. According to Kane, Marley, one of the most respected DJs and mixers in Hip-Hop, was first standoffish to the high school student at his front door. However, as Kane handed Marley the sheet of paper to give to Biz, a brief demonstration of the delivery led the producer to invite Kane inside. “He asked me if I rhyme too. I spit something for him. He was like, ‘Let’s work on something.’ [The first record we did together was] ‘I’ll Take You There,’ the joint from [Long Live The Kane].” At this time, Kool G Rap, MC Shan, Craig G, and others were recording records with Marley Marl, in addition to Biz, Shanté, and Kane.
Given the way he came into the game in the mid-’80s, Kane says he has no problem with Drake, regarding criticism of the Hip-Hop superstar’s use of songwriters. Asked why Drake gets so much backlash, whereas Biz, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Diddy, and others have not, Kane declares, “Probably because [Drake] is a sex symbol…when a dude can imagine you knockin’ his chick down, y’all not gonna be friends too long.”
B.D.K. says that “Just Rhymin’ With The Biz,” despite strong popularity on both New York City Rap radio stations, confused booking agents. They assumed it was B-I-Z’s record, not Kane’s. Biz Markie was getting the show offers that King Asiatic Nobody’s Equal was not. Instead, the MC admits he was still broke, at home in Brooklyn. He adds, that like Biz grabbing samples, he did the same for records like “Raw,” his breakthrough hit. Kane also says that “The Symphony” began as a song that was intended to be just him and G Rap, but held by Marley. Then the producer added Craig G. Near deadline, Masta Ace also added a verse to the record. Aftertheir contributions, both Craig and Ace earned the approval of G and B.D.K., despite admitted reluctance (according to Kane) at first.
Later, at 40:00, Kane credits Shanté with making the “Juice Crew” name pop first, and crowns her the Queen of Mr. Magic’s collective. However, Kane says that ahead of Roxanne’s teenage success, there were some members that are legendary to Hip-Hop Heads. “[Roxanne Shanté] is the one who put it on wax, where we could all eat and make money off of it…But prior to Shanté—a lot of people don’t know this—Jalil from Whodini, Mighty Mike C from The Fearless Four, [Grandmaster] Melle Mel [from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5], Waterbed Kev [from the Fantastic 5], these are all members of The Juice Crew that was before her. Because this was Magic’s crew, with his team from [WBLS] radio. Shanté started a whole new chapter of The Juice Crew as artists.”
At 75:00, Kane recalls when Death Row Records, through Tupac, tried to sign him. Interested at the time, the Brooklyn, New Yorker whose DJ, Mister Cee, was instrumental to Biggie’s discovery and career, said he wanted no involvement in beefs. Upon arriving to the label’s Can Am Studios in Tarzana, California, he recalls that label affiliates tried to bait him into being upset at Mobb Deep and Lauryn Hill. He lost interest shortly thereafter.
At 83:00, he says that the Brooklyn double-time rapping should be credited to Kool Moe Dee and the early ’80s Harlem movement. He says that inspired the flow in his music, as well as that of Biggie Smalls, JAY-Z, and Fabolous. Kane does note the distinct Brooklyn style is derived from the borough’s pimp culture. Kane experienced that culture in barbershops and on the blocks of Bedford Stuyvesant.
Near the end of the epic chat, Big Daddy Kane does drop a noteworthy reflection of today’s Rap class. “There are so many talented artists out now: J. Cole, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Rapsody, [Joey Bada$$], Remy Ma,” he says, adding that Remy obviously has more tenure, despite her recent boom. “Here’s my thing: there’s a lot of other artists, that’s out here, that’s shining. I mean, I wish them continued success. I don’t want to hear that Lil Yachty or Lil Uzi [Vert] that they’re broke and they’re f*cked up. I want to know that they’re safe and that they’re making money. I ain’t gonna lie to you, there was a time, in the late ’90s, thanks to motherf*ckers like you [N.O.R.E.], that sh*t got f*cked up for me…but it came back around and everything is good. With that came knowledge of how to manage your money and where to put your things.” Kane calls for artists like himself to better mentor the youth. He says that as far as himself, he does not want to take back his spot, or make money on the advice.
However, very briefly, Big Daddy Kane alludes to the possibility of another album. The MC has not released a solo LP since 1998’s Veteranz’ Day, which he produced in addition to Easy Mo Bee and L.G.