Big Daddy Kane is a revered hip-hop artist who emerged on the scene in the late early 1980s. Born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, Kane (real name Antonio Hardy) eventually became part of the iconic Juice Crew and went on to become a legend and one of the most beloved Brooklyn MCs of all time.
As a solo rapper working the underground hip-hop circuit of New York, Hardy brushed shoulders with many lyricists, one of whom happened to be Biz Markie (real name Marcel Hall). Markie, akin to Kane, began his career in New York City nightclubs and collaborated with a vast array of artists.
However, he had an unparalleled synergy with Hardy. Having established a name for himself in Brooklyn and with an ever-growing buzz, Kane eventually became part of the Juice Crew.
Both Biz Markie and Kane flourished as solo artists. Hardy had his anthems such as ‘Long Live The Kane’ and Hall had a top 40 smash with ‘Just A Friend’ in 1989. However, there was one seismic hit that Hall rejected. Unfortunately for him, it ended up in the hands of his Juice Crew counterpart, Big Daddy Kane.
In 1988, Big Daddy Kane released ‘Set It Off’ as the third single for his album, Long Live The Kane, released by Cold Chillin’ Records. The track sampled James Brown’s ‘Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved’ and was a great party record. Produced by Marley Marl, it was another success for the Juice Crew pioneer.
In an interview with Rockthebells.com, Hardy explained how the record ended up in his hands. He commenced detailing, “I was hangin’ with Biz at 45 King’s house, and he played a beat that he tailor-made for Biz that was really slow, but Biz didn’t like it. I said that I would take it, but I wanted it faster. He knocked it up a few beats per minute, but I asked for it to be much faster. 45 found that interesting because that was the original tempo of the beat. It was only slowed down to match Biz’s flow.”
He continued, “He took that disk out and put another one in with the same beat at the faster tempo with a sample on it, but he said that I couldn’t have it because it was for a Public Enemy remix, and he was waiting on confirmation. A few weeks later, he called and told Biz that I could have it.”
Hardy explained how he was listening to a lot of James Brown at the time and wanted to infuse his music into the track, elaborating, “During that time, I was listening to a James Brown compilation, and there’s a horn breakdown on ‘Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved’ and I knew I wanted that for the beat, so I got Marley to add it.”
Kane also admitted he was inspired by the 1970 James Brown track ‘Sex Machine’ concluding, “I was also inspired by ‘Sex Machine’ from that same compilation, and I wanted something to match the energy from the intro when James is talking and then the beat drops. I said the let it roll, get bold intro, and then the beat came in after. That structure came from ‘Sex Machine’”. You can listen to ‘Set It Off’ in the video below.