Big Daddy Kane – INFINITE REVIEW 13.12.15
One of the pioneers of the Golden-Age of hip-hop, with a discography that spans over a decade, several gold albums and an all-star filmography, Big Daddy Kane understandably hadn’t had much time to consolidate his appearances down under until this December. Ice T’s admittance that “Big Daddy Kane can rap circles around cats” is on par with Jay Z’s sentiments on the former Juice Crew’s smooth baritone and rhyme- “His flow was sick: He was condensing, stacking rhymes one on top of another. Trying to keep up with him was an exercise in breath control, wordplay, speed and imagination. He was relentless on the mic.”
Considering Jay Z has a subscription service wait-list available via Ticketek, which alerts members of the mailing list of any potential Australian-tour-announcements that the rapper may have on the horizon, Big Daddy Kane’s venue choice and overall tour announcements seemed to pale in comparison. Oxford Art Factory, situated in the crux of a Lockout-limbo on Sydney’s iconic Oxford Street, where foot traffic is down by 60%, and with a venue capacity of 450, would humbly make room for a dance-floor to host the international hip-hop star, were my thoughts prior to attending.
However, I was wrong. On Sunday night, after an intensive listen to BDK’s collective works from late 80s classics like “Raw” and “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” which demonstrate his speed and consistency when rhyming, to the Mary Jane Girls’ sampled “Smooth Operator” and his duet with Barry White, “All of Me”, showcasing his mellow twists and silky flows, I felt fully prepped and headed down to the venue. I caught the last half hour of Gang of Brothers’ set, a high-energy and fast-paced selection of heavy soul and groove, with well-articulated flows delivered by vibrant frontman Buddy Siolo, effectively propelling the audience into a funk frenzy. The crowd were thick and the allocation nearly exhausted. BDK had surely brought about a cult-following of old-time fans and younger punters with a passion for old school hip hop.
Big Daddy Kane punctually attended to the stage at 10pm, decked out in a pale double denim suit and heavy gold chain – and at almost 50 years of age, the Grammy-award winner looked fresh as ever. Thereafter, and for the next two hours, he delivered one of the most immersive hip-hop sets I’d seen in a very long time – surely enough, the intimate nature of the under-gound venue and compact audience worked in his favour, and his subsequent repeated rhetoric – “Is hip hop still alive in Sydney?” was met favourably with a very receptive audience. He paid testimony to past and present rappers, with samples, lyrics and instrumentals from MCs and collaborators including Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, Craig G, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Heavy D, Busta Rhymes, Tupac Shakur, Grandmaster Flash and the Notorious B.I.G.
BDK’s live rendition of Ain’t No Half-Steppin’, #25 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time was immaculately pieced together and a genuine pleasure to experience despite the rising humidity of the air, dense with the combined sweat of 300 rap enthusiasts. Shortly thereafter, he invited two members of the audience to rap a bar with him, a once in a lifetime treat When the power went out halfway through, BDK (quite amazingly) rapped without any accompaniment for an entire track, perfectly in time and with solitary beatboxing during the pauses. When asked by his MC why he didn’t wait for the technical difficulties to resolve, he simply replied “Well… I still got power.”
After the show, the audience wearily exited the art factory (tired from jumping around!) and I went promptly to sleep – love those early Monday starts. Reflecting on the show, I think Oxford Art Factory is a great venue for hip-hop and I owe my experience at the show to GiggedIn Infinite, a proud provider of a diverse range of local and international acts. For lovers of hip-hop, I would recommend catching the Le1f show on the 21st January at the Oxford Art Factory. Be sure not to miss out on supports Baby Face Thrilla and Oscar Key Sung!
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Til next time,