Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap go back together more than 30 years. Since the mid-1980s, these two New York City lyricists were some of the most legendary components in Marley Marl’s Juice Crew. In 1986, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo let the world hear something special with “It’s A Demo.” One year later, on the same Cold Chillin’ Records imprint, Kane followed with “Get Into It” and “Raw.”
Even within their own unit, Kane and G Rap had a legendary, amicable competition. On songs like “The Symphony,” Heads have disputed who was best, with each MC approaching the mic differently. Kane was cool-headed and smooth, while “Giancana” verses are delivered with a raspy rawness that can can run nearly breathless at times. As each act followed their singles with heralded albums, the competition continued. Kane’s catalog boasts two gold-certified albums, whereas G Rap has only made the Top 200 two times out of seven studio LPs. In the ’90s, as Kane mentored Jay Z, while G Rap was in Nas’ circle, the contrasts only furthered.
Well beyond the Cold Chillin’ Records years or even a regularly functioning Juice Crew, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane remain forever associated. They appeared together on UGK’s Underground Kingz album, Tony Touch’s The Piece Maker, and on stage for The Roots’ Chappelle Block Party jam session of “Boom!”
This past weekend (February 17), G Rap and Kane shared the headlining bill at East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania’s Sherman Theater. There, they performed “The Most Epic Hip-Hop Showdown.” Before an engaged crowd, each MC rocked a song, let his counterpart rock, and kept the crowd cheering, comparing, and debating, in real time.
Heads can hear joints like “Set It Off,” “Raw (Remix),” and “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” from B.D.K., with “Ill Street Blues,” “Fast Life,” and “Take ‘Em To War” by G Rap. At 23 minutes, watch the two living legends flex on one another between cuts. Living up to the night’s awesome theme, look out for Masta Ace to hit the stage for brief set at the close of this 33-minute video.
This video is captured by Domingo from the side of the stage (who was also an organizer of the event). He produced on G Rap’s most recent solo project, 2011’s Offer You Can’t Refuse EP. Additionally, the Brooklyn native featured Kane on his “Kill At Will: The Final Chapter” video, also featuring Joell Ortiz, Chris Rivers, Snow Tha Product, and Token.
Kane and G Rap also appeared together at last October’s New York City version of The Roots Picnic.