Big Daddy Kane Names His Top 3 Posse Cuts

Thirty-five years ago, Marley Marl released “The Symphony.” In 1988, the Cold Chillin’ Records single became a juggernaut for the Juice Crew’s expansion. It included Marley on production, with ear-grabbing verses from Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Craig G, and Masta Ace. At a time when Roxanne Shanté, Biz Markie, and MC Shan were already established, the In Control, Vol. 1 video single showed the range and depth of one of Hip-Hop’s incredible crews.

Appearing on Drink Champs for a second time in five years, Big Daddy Kane is asked if he considers “The Symphony” to be Hip-Hop’s greatest posse cut. At 2:31:30, the Brooklyn, New Yorker affirms, “I think so. I think so. [The] only reason I say that is because when I think of my favorites…”

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As Kane speaks, N.O.R.E. interrupts the guest to ask him of his favorites. Kane pulls two to add to his own classic. “Like, [EPMD, K-Solo, and Redman’s] ‘Headbanger.’” He then points to 2000’s “You, Me, Him, And Her” by JAY-Z featuring The Dynasty. Over the Bink! production, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia album cut features Jay, Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and Amil. He also returns to his own standard. “Yeah,” when I think about it, the reason that I’d go with ‘The Symphony’ is because I think that everybody on there spit fire.”

While thinking, Kane shows respect to a Main Source track that introduced Nas, Akinyele, and Joe Fatal. “I think there’s a lot of great posse joints—what’s the Nas joint? ‘Live At The Barbeque’?”

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N.O.R.E. chimes in, showing Queens love to A Tribe Called Quest and their Native Tongues brothers Leaders Of The New School. “I think ‘Scenario’ is #2; ‘Symphony’ is #1.” Hearing out N.O.R.E., Kane certifies his Top 3, including his dark horse Roc choice and Business Never Personal single. “See, for me, I would probably go ‘Symphony,’ ‘Headbanger,’ and ‘You, Me, Him, Her.'”

The Jay cut prompts some push back from the Drink Champs hosts. “Yeah, I don’t know; I wouldn’t put that up there,” says DJ EFN. N.O.R.E. adds, “Yeah, no. I don’t got that.” He points to another Roc-A-Fella family song, one that featured outsiders. “I got ‘Reservoir Dogs’ with JAY-Z and The LOX, and Beans, and [Sauce Money]. I got that up there more [than ‘You, Me, Him, and Her.'” Kane “I love that ‘You, Me, Him, And Her.'”

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In speaking about “The Symphony,” N.O.R.E. says he regrets a time that he attempted to cover the classic. He then jokes that fellow artist-turned-podcaster Talib Kweli was out of line for performing the song, as recently as this year. Kane, who has worked with Kweli for years, disagrees. “Nah, I think that Talib’s verse was dope.” He continues, “I honestly thought that it was just great to see that type of vibe. You gotta think from a musician’s standpoint. There’s a lot of stuff that you look at as classics, ‘Say, Say, Say’ [by] Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney; you wouldn’t have been mad at Prince doing Paul McCartney’s vocals, would you? Sometimes it’s something, just a lil’ different. There’s the original, and that’s the s__t. But it’s good to just think out the box and try something different sometimes, man.” In 1991, Marley Marl gathered the original MCs as well as Little Daddy Shane for “The Symphony Part 2” from his sophomore LP.

In 2022, Kane reunited with Kool G Rap for “Fly Til I Die” and also partnered with Busta Rhymes and Conway The Machine for “Slap.”

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#BonusBeat: At the 2016 New York City Roots Picnic, Ambrosia For Heads filmed this version of “The Symphony” featuring J. Period, Black Thought, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Craig G, Royce 5’9, Pharoahe Monch, Freeway and Smif-N-Wessun: