It was a nostalgic old school party, when hip-hop legend Big Daddy Kane graced the stage of the Howard Theater on Friday, June 16th. Kane, who has always been one of my top five lyricists, showcased a charisma on the stage and a connection with his audience, which is currently lacking in rappers half his age. Backed by his live band “Las Supper,” Kane rocked the stage, showcasing hits from his catalog through a ninety-minute set.
Given that I’m getting up in my age, I’m not big on standing room only shows, which is what the Kane show was. However, as I walked into the Howard Theatre, the venue wasn’t overly crowded, which made the experience of seeing Kane all the more enjoyable. With no opening act, the crowd was warmed up by Kane’s DJ who got the PARTY started with an old school hip hop set. The diverse audience of thirty plus & up was all dancing as the DJ played hit songs from Boogie Down Productions, Kid & Play, and others from the Golden Age of Hip Hop. Kane took the stage at 8:20, and was greeted by a thunderous applause from the entire venue.
Before Kane started his set, he mentioned he had visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and said when you go, be sure to make time to visit the fifth floor where there is an exhibit dedicated to him. He then opened up his set with “Set It Off” from his debut album “Long Live the Kane”; from there it was hit after hit, from Kane’s catalog. One particular highlight was hearing the still classic “Smooth Operator.”
When Kane rapped “So just play Marvin Gaye and Let’s Get It On,” the band transitioned into Marvin Gaye’s classic slow jam “Let’s Get On,” where Kane’s dancing style echoed Marvin Gaye himself. The change and mixing of the two songs came across effortlessly, and it was very apparent by the response of the women in attendance, why Kane was one of hip hop’s first sex symbols.
Kane was in his prime during the Golden Age of Hip Hop; this was a time when lyrics mattered and just because you had a catchy single didn’t mean that you would be a star. There wasn’t any profanity in Kane’s show, and I can honestly say Kane gave a better performance than the last two hip hop shows I attended (Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour and Bad Boy’s Reunion Tour).
I attend numerous concerts on a yearly basis. The majority of the hip hop shows I attend, always have the talent either backed by a DJ or track. As a top notch professional and seasoned performer, Big Daddy Kane was in sync with his band the entire concert. I’ve never seen a rapper direct their band while they are performing. That in itself, showed that Kane still respects the craft of a LIVE performance and if it’s an audience of 500 or 5,000, he’s going to give you his all.
Kane might be forty-nine years young, but his performance at the Howard showed that he can still get the job done when it comes to his live performances.
Final Grade: A