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RECORD RACK

*** BIG DADDY KANE "Taste of Chocolate" Reprise

December 02, 1990|JONATHAN GOLD

Big Daddy Kane might be the finest pure rapper in hip-hop, his dusky baritone the most breathtakingly versatile rap voice, his rhymes the most rhythmically elaborate. Other rappers tend to treat him with the sort of awed respect you might expect Bobby Brown to give Luther Vandross. His free-flowing style was adopted almost whole by L.L. Cool J, among others.

But Kane's virtuosity as a rapper doesn't necessarily mean that he makes good records, and in fact his first two albums, more or less self-produced, had a sloppy, tossed-off quality to them.

In the new one, Kane seems almost less stylistically consistent than before. In a duet with Barry White, he sounds like Barry White, booming out White's catch phrases in the nether regions of the bass clef. In a duet with blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore, who was rhyming dirty before 2 Live Crew was born, Kane picks up Moore's funky, nursery-rhyme groove. Kane acknowledges his predecessors: noted.

Elsewhere, Kane waxes melancholy about fanzines, other rappers, unfaithful women and people who just don't understand his pain--sample song titles: "Mr. Pitiful," "Who Am I," "It's Hard Being the Kane." It's a lot to attempt to pull off on one album, and "Taste of Chocolate" almost collapses under its own weight. Still, confessional hip-hop is a brand new genre--at a time when knee-jerk militancy has become the standard, a little navel-gazing is almost refreshing--and Kane seems to make it rock.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five (a classic).

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