Big Daddy Kane on His New Protest Song “Enough,” Police Brutality, and Black Lives Matter - A Change Must Come | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, September 27th, 2020  

Big Daddy Kane on His New Protest Song “Enough,” Police Brutality, and Black Lives Matter

A Change Must Come

Aug 14, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Coming up in hip-hop’s Golden Age, Brooklyn’s Big Daddy Kane was a lyricist with peerless flow, commanding the microphone with a blazing style that showed him as adept at rapping with exquisite speed and slowing it down for a late night beneath the sheets jam. His first two albums, 1988’s Long Live the Kane and ’89’s It’s a Big Daddy Thing are stone cold classics. After holding on through the ’90s as popular rap styles changed, Kane released 1998’s Veteranz Day and then, for all intents and purposes, hung it up. That album remains his last proper solo work, although Big Daddy Kane continues to tour and released an album with his live band as Las Supper in 2013. (If you are at all a Big Daddy Kane fan, seek this album out. It is exquisite.) 

Despite his relative hiatus and sparked by the increasing visibility of police violence and the death of George Floyd, Kane, who was no stranger to socially conscious rhymes in his heyday (see 1989’s “Another Victory” for one example), has re-emerged. “Enough,” a protest track featuring cameos by Chuck D and vocalist Loren Oden, is a brutal old school hip-hop track that doesn’t mince words. Opening with the inspiring words of activist Tamika Mallory, “Enough” is a call to action, demanding justice for those black people who have lost their lives at the hands of police and vigilantes, shouting out the current political administration’s lack of support to Puerto Rico, and asking us to “stay strong and try to keep a hand in it, transcend it, until the next pandemic.”

Big Daddy Kane spoke to Under the Radar from his home in Raleigh, NC, where he has resided since 2000, about “Enough,” police brutality, and what it will take for a change to finally come. 

 

Frank Valish (Under the Radar): First of all, are you and yours healthy? Is everybody well, with all this COVID? 

Big Daddy Kane: Oh yeah, everybody’s cool. We’re staying home, staying safe, and figuring out different ways to entertain one another.

When exactly did the inspiration strike to write “Enough?” Was there a particular prompting event in this recent history that made you decide that you wanted to speak out?

Absolutely. I think probably the biggest inspiration was the speech from Tamika Mallory. With everything going on, with Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and then, you know, the past incidents, but with three things happening back to back like that, it was basically saying that it’s only going to get worse. This is just the beginning. To hear her say “Enough is enough,” and breaking it down the way she did, I was like, “You know what, I don’t really feel like doing new Kane music, but I do have something I want to say, so let me do it.” I reached out to Chuck and told him, “Hey man, I got this kinda James Brown/Bobby Byrd idea,” and then he told me about his song “State of the Union (STFU)” and sent me a copy, and I was like, “Yeah, okay, so we’re on the same page,” and he was like, “Let’s do it.” 

What was it like growing up in Brooklyn in the ’70s and ’80s? 

Growing in up in Brooklyn, I grew up in the hood, the streets of Bed-Stuy. Seeing hood activity. Seeing a lot of purse and chain snatching. Seeing kids playing basketball on the sidewalk, shooting it through a milk crate instead of a basketball hoop. Hanging on the corner, drinking beer. 

When did you first become conscious of the police and their relationship to your community? 

Growing up in the hood, you’re made conscious. At an early age, they teach you what the cops are going to do if they stop you so be careful. What’s going on right now, it’s not something new. It’s just that it’s being filmed. Everything we’re seeing right now has been going on. Decade after decade. There’s nothing new about it. 

I wondered whether you felt like anything’s changed. 

It changed because it’s being filmed. 

When I was growing up, it was Rodney King, and it seems like nothing has changed. 

What you got to understand, with Rodney King, that was the one incident that you knew about, because that’s the one incident that was filmed. 

Some news coverage suggests that this time, with all the protests country-wide, that things are different. Do you think things are different this time? 

I think that people are starting to take a stand. Filming something is one thing. But when you say you’re tired of this and you start fighting against it, when you start protests, when you start putting money into certain things, when you do things like that, those type of movements, then things start to change to a degree. And also calling out the offender, which would be the police department, because they need to hold their own accountable. 

And that just hasn’t happened in the past. So hopefully the idea is if it starts to happen then we can start to finally see some change. 

Yeah. They fired several cops, put charges on certain cops. We still have yet to see what’s going to happen with that. There is slight change, but we need a whole lot more. 

How do you feel about the Defund the Police movement? 

As I said, they need to be held accountable. If you’re not going to hold these police accountable, then yeah, I agree [with defunding the police]. Because here’s the thing. Are there good cops? Yes, there are good cops. There are good cops that exist. But if the good cops are sitting silent while bad cops are doing what they’re doing and you’re protecting them, then exactly how good are you? 

They’re just as complicit. 

Yeah, so you can’t say you can’t defund the police because there are good cops. Okay, here’s your opportunity to prove that you’re a good cop. Speak out against the ones that are doing wrong. Speak out against the ones who are breaking the laws. If you can’t do that, how can I take your side? How can I sit there and say, “Well don’t defund them because there are some good cops?” 

Do you still have family in Brooklyn? 

Absolutely. 

Do you make it back there much?

Well, with everything going on, I haven’t been back to New York recently. But when I do go up and I have two or three days, I go around and visit family and old friends.
 

Do you see any change? Because if you’ve been in Raleigh 20 years, you were still in New York when stop and frisk was really ramping up. Do you see any difference?

Are you talking about law enforcement or are you talking about gentrification?
 

Well, both. There certainly has been gentrification in that Bedford community.

Absolutely. I was hanging outside my old building earlier this year, and saw there were several white tenants that lived in the building. And that never existed when I was a kid. The supermarket that I used to walk around the corner to get soda and stuff for my mother from, there’s a coffee shop or something there now, and there were a bunch of white people sitting out there. One had a little dog. They were just chilling. I never saw that, ever, when I lived in Brooklyn. I mean at least not in my community. Park Slope, Coney Island, Bensonhurst, but not Bed-Stuy. The community has changed a lot. On the police side, I don’t know. I didn’t experience any incidents myself. 

Rakim wrote an autobiography last year. You ever thought about doing the same.

Yeah, I’ve thought about it. 

Any plans?

Absolutely. I definitely will. Absolutely. 

How about as far as more new music? 

I don’t know. At the present moment, I don’t really feel the buzz. Who knows what the future may hold, but right now, Nah. 

Well, I love the new track. I’m really glad you’re still speaking out. I hope with this issue that we keep our foot on the gas. 

I hope so too. I think that this is something where you can’t lose momentum. Right now, we live in a digital era where everything is basically 15 minutes. People lose focus so quick. Everything is trendy. And that’s the dangerous thing, the trendy stuff. Because there’s people who join a movement because it’s trendy, not because they really believe or support it. And that’s a dangerous thing to do. I hope that this is something where people keep their energy all the way through. Right now we’re at a point where they’re trying to give you gifts to calm you down. Like, “Oh we’ll take down this statue. We’ll change the name of this.” That has nothing to do with cops killing people. I don’t give a damn about a statue or the name of something. You can keep that damn statue. Give me a Malcolm X statue, give me a Martin Luther King statue if you want to give me something. But that’s beside the point. I don’t give a damn about the name of something or some statue that’s standing somewhere. The issue at hand is police brutality. That’s the main thing you have to fix. Not some statue, not the name of some bridge or something. Police brutality. 

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