Big Daddy Kane at Summerstage — Herbert Von King Park/Tompkins Park 6/12/13

Big Daddy Kane

Summerstage – Herbert von King Park/Tompkins Park


As a child growing up in the 80s, I spent a great deal of time watching MTV. In particular, I watched a lot of Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre during the week, and Fab 5 Freddy on the weekends; Headbanger’s BallRemote Control and several others – but Yo! MTV Raps was my favorite and I caught it religiously. And at that age, some of my favorite artists were Boogie Down Productions, LL Cool J, Run DMC, Eric B. and Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane

This year, Summerstage is celebrating hip hop and hip hop culture’s 40th anniversary with a busy schedule of hip hop legends including Rakim. Pete Rock and CL Smooth, DJ Kool Herc, Das EFX, Black Sheep, Marley Marl, Big Daddy Kane, and others. It’s a virtual who’s who of classic New York hip hop, as well as hip hop’s earliest (and seemingly most innocent) days. 

Back then, LL Cool J and Big Daddy Kane were two of the smoothest and best emcees out there, and if you were like me, you wanted to be as smooth as them, or at least have their flow. As one of his era’s best emcees, Kane has sadly been forgotten. Hip hop has always been a fickle and occasionally heartless game, and some of its great ones have been forgotten for hotter, new acts – acts who frankly aren’t as interesting or as good. But i digress … 

So when I heard that Big Daddy Kane was playing at Summerstage, I had to catch him – especially since i had never had a chance to catch him when I was young. Of course, he did some of his major hits, including “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’” “Smooth Operator” and even a minor hit like “I Get the Job Done.” And when he and his crew did the 1987-1988 dance moves, it bought back so many memories of trying to do those same moves. Adding to the nostalgia train was special guest spots by D Nice, who did an extremely truncated version of “My Name Is D Nice,” and Dres from Black Sheep, who did a lengthened version of “The Choice is Yours.” And unlike the New Music Seminar crowd, the Herbert von King was not only familiar, they loved it and were lustily signing along. 

And although we’re all older, Kane still manages to be a charismatic, charming presence who still commands a stage in a fashion that many younger emcees can’t and just don’t. If there was one problem, his set felt short – both in a good sense and in a bad sense. In the good sense, because he went out there with high energy, playing a lot of his most beloved songs. And yet, there was this sense that he could have played a little bit longer.  But it is kind of difficult to complain about a free show on a beautiful late spring day. 

This couple was doing the hustle and a few other old school dances while a DJ warmed up to the crowd. Seriously, the older gentleman had some moves.

Before the set, this man was live painting an interesting piece, seemingly inspired by the locale. 

Spike Lee, one of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s most famous residents was in the house. At one point, he was trash talking with a Brooklyn Nets fan, he seemed to know from the neighborhood. 

DJ Scratch was the afternoon’s informal host. 

D. Nice in the building.

So this was the second time in a week that i saw Black Sheep’s Dres. And I had joked to someone, if i somehow caught him at the Northside Festival, that I’d be convinced he was following me!

Look how amped up the crowd was. 

Yep, he’s still got the moves, y’all.

For these photos and the rest of the photos from this afternoon of hip hop, check out the Flickr set here: