Big Daddy Kane

It's a Big Daddy Thing

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If Big Daddy Kane's debut album painted him as an enormously talented battle MC, his follow-up, It's a Big Daddy Thing, finds him aggressively expanding into new territory and gunning for a wider audience outside the hip-hop faithful. Unlike later efforts, most of it is rousingly successful, making for an album that's arguably just as strong as his near-classic debut. This is where Kane starts to take his place as one of hip-hop's first sex symbols, thanks to the gliding "Smooth Operator," the somewhat dated ballad "To Be Your Man," and the Teddy Riley-produced new jack swing track "I Get the Job Done." If the latter is a blatant attempt at crossing over, with a vastly different sound than anything else on the album, it's also a player's statement of purpose. Elsewhere, Kane plays the anti-drug, pro-education social commentator, bringing his Nation of Islam beliefs further into the spotlight on tracks like "Another Victory," "Children R the Future," "Calling Mr. Welfare," and "Rap Summary (Lean on Me)." "Pimpin' Ain't Easy" sits a little uneasily alongside that progressive-minded material, not just for its obvious subject matter but for the line where Kane declares himself "anti-faggot"; nonetheless, it remains something of a favorite among fans who look past that slip. And of course, there are plenty of showcases for Kane's near-peerless technique, including "Mortal Combat," a live version of the rare B-side "Wrath of Kane," and "Warm It Up, Kane." There's some filler in the second half, like the amusing, blaxploitation-styled "Big Daddy's Theme," but overall It's a Big Daddy Thing is a strong, varied album that captures every important side of one of rap's major talents.

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