Introducing ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman‘ – a column slapping a spotlight on lyricists overlooked, under appreciated, or just plain criminally slept on. Or like a man named Nas once said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Enter Mr. Sandman with what y’all missed while chasing the REM dragon; Photo:

If there were ever a Mount Rushmore of golden-era rap Big Daddy Kane would without question be on it. His early efforts laid the groundwork for arguably the most lyrically-minded generation in rap history, and his style set a standard for what a top-tier lyricist should be. He’s Magic and Bird wrapped into one, a singular force who ignited a firestorm that has yet to be quenched.

When Big Daddy Kane first broke onto the scene he made an immediate impact. His rapid-fire delivery and rhythmic cadences made his lyrics pop with enthusiasm as it bridged the popular sounds of disco with the burgeoning rap scene. The lyricist was stepping outside the DJ’s shadow, and there was no one more charismatic than Big Daddy Kane to help usher in a new era.

Big Daddy Kane’s debut Long Live the Kane had him establishing a royal foothold on rap. Marley Marl handled the production and provided the type of beats that would have tremendous crossover appeal, pulling samples from everyone from James Brown and The Meters to The Staples Singers. Kane matched the creativity with dexterous wordplay and clean prose; full of moxie, but also fundamentally sound.

Ain’t No Half-Steppin’” is one of Big Daddy Kane’s biggest hits. It launched him into stardom, and even after 30 years it still slams with fervor. He’s approaching the mic strong and is reminding would-be rappers that when they step to him they better bring their “A” game. An early battle rap that would set the bar high for the next generation: [LISTEN]

Big Daddy Kane would follow up his debut with arguably his most successful album It’s a Big Daddy Thing. The effort is overflowing with braggadocio. He’s capturing the urgency of the late ’80s, but breaking new ground with a style of lyricism that combined party raps with poignant narratives.

The success of It’s a Big Daddy Thing hinged on the progressiveness of the beats. Big Daddy Kane worked with a range of producers who captured the energy of the emerging rap class. It’s a formula that numerous artists emulated, and it would help keep Big Daddy Kane sharp for decades to come.

Children R The Future” is a gem that remains largely hidden in Big Daddy Kane’s catalog. Most know him as a battle rapper with bravado to spare, but Big Daddy Kane is a writer who wasn’t immune to what was going on around him. He kept a central focus, but also took time to extend his hand where he could: [LISTEN]

Big Daddy Kane stayed busy throughout his career, releasing albums at a steady clip all throughout the ’90s. He kicked down the doors for others to follow and his style would be the father to countless artists. Big Daddy Kane was the driving influence for a number of legends; both underground and mainstream including Masta Ace, Edan, The Game, Jay-Z, Eminem, and Three 6 Mafia to name a few.

Big Daddy Kane’s talent boiled down to lyrics. He was a beast on the mic and embodied New York rap, which was a mighty title to not only boast about but to have carried for as long as he did. He earned respect through his skillful wordplay and evolved with the landscape, proving that he could master multiple styles.

Big Daddy Kane is an everlasting echo. His voice will always find a place no matter what year it is. He’s a mainstay and as heard on “Stop Shammin’” he’s deserving of all our respect: [LISTEN]