While sitting at Despina’s Cafe in North Raleigh on a muggy early autumn morning Big Daddy Kane pauses before he explains why he relocated from New York to Raleigh 19 years ago.
“You get in where you fit in,” Kane says. “I like the laid-back feel here. I can do without the drama. Raleigh feels like home. It has before I even moved here. During the late ‘90s I just fell in love with this city.”
Kane, 51, grew up in the turbulent Brooklyn section of Bed-Stuy, an area that has since changed. (“I hear they want to call it Stuyvesant Heights now, can you believe that?” Kane says). But the chill Kane remains the same.
The rapper will perform a hometown show Saturday, Sept. 28, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park as part of the Art of Cool Festival. He is set to perform at 8:45 p.m., setting the stage for headliner Run-DMC.
“It’s going to be great time for those who love hip-hop,” he said.
The Grammy Award winner talked to The News & Observer about hip-hop, his upcoming induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and where he can be found about town.
Q: There are a number of options at Art of Cool this weekend. Why should a hip-hop fan catch your show?
A: Because you’ll experience the essence of hip-hop. It’s beyond seeing me. You have Run-DMC, who are going to be amazing. There’s Whodini, who was such an influence on me. Saturday night is going to be spectacular.
Q: Who are your favorite MCs?
A: Those who are breaking now or those from back in the day?
A: Myself of course (laughs). Nas, Rakim and KRS-One are the old school guys. The younger generation would be J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Rapsody and I love Logic.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between old school and contemporary hip-hop?
A: When hip-hop was new and raw, it was all about being an MC. You wanted to be respected as a lyricist. But as the years passed and hip-hop became big business, hip-hop became like country, rock and pop. And so you now have people who write the songs for rappers. There’s rappers out there that don’t even know how to rhyme. They take someone else’s words and go with it. To each his own.
Q: What’s your favorite use of a sample?
A: When I used Bobby Byrd’s “Hot Pants (I’m Coming, I’m Coming)“ for my song “Raw.”
Q: What will it be like being inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame next month?
A: It’s an incredible honor. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s great to be recognized. One of the smartest things I ever did was move to North Carolina.
Q: How did it feel when your New York neighborhood recently honored you with a mural on a building?
A: It was very cool. I was there. I was honored. I feel like my place in music history is cemented.
Q: What’s up next for you?
A: I’m working on a new music project with MC Lyte. It sounds amazing. It sounds like a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell of hip-hop.
Q: Where can you be found in the Triangle?
A: I love Rey’s Restaurant and I really enjoy Sake House. You can probably find me at one of those two places. This whole area is great for me since there is so much to do and then it’s so chill as well. And then you have great events like the Art of Cool. I think the secret’s out about this being the place to be. But it’s all right, since I’m already here.
What: Art of Cool
When: Sept. 27-29
Where: Six Durham venues: Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the Durham Armory, Motorco Music Hall, Carolina Theatre, The Pinhook and The Masonic Lodge. Sunday brunch is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Durham Convention Center featuring The Hamiltones.
Cost: $75 for one-day general admission, $140 for two-day general admission. The pass allows admission to all venues. VIP passes available. Sunday brunch is $60.
Info: 919-672-0060 or aocfestival.com
Durham Bulls Athletic Park schedule
Friday, Sept. 27
6 p.m. DJ Bro-Rabb
6:45 p.m. Yoland Rabun
7:50 p.m. Black Violin
8:45 p.m. Ari Lennox
9:45 p.m. Jill Scott
Saturday, Sept. 28
7 p.m. DJ Skillz
8 p.m. Whodini
8:45 p.m. Big Daddy Kane featuring The Symphony
9:35 p.m. Run-DMC