Brooklyn's Antonio Hardy, aka Big Daddy Kane, would be remembered as one of hip-hop's greatest lyricists even if he'd never opened his mouth: he cowrote a number of classic hits in the 80s for artists such as Biz Markie ("Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz") and Roxanne Shante ("Roxanne's Revenge"). But he also turned out to be a fierce MC in his own right. As the first two-thirds of Rhino's 2001 collection The Very Best of Big Daddy Kane shows, Kane strung together an unremitting series of hits in the late 80s--"Raw," "Ain't No Half Steppin'," "Smooth Operator," "Warm It Up, Kane"--that are as sharp as any in hip-hop. Still, aside from a memorable appearance as a pimp on Prince Paul's 1999 album A Prince Among Thieves, he's laid low since 1998's lukewarm Veteranz Day (The Man, the Icon, recorded last year, remains unreleased), so this show might be heavy on the classics. Opener Killah Priest started in the Wu-Tang Clan's orbit; he lays down religious allegories that make him sound a bit like a more straightforward version of the RZA. Though 1998's Heavy Mental remains his best album, 2001's Priesthood (Proverbs Music) finds his lyrical gifts intact, with Nicrocist's soul-noir production providing a nice replacement for Wu-Tang-style dungeon-master loops. Thursday, March 13, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Mike Jones, Mark Humphries.