TV One's series "Unsung" continues its stellar season tonight at 10 with a look at the career of seminal rapper Big Daddy Kane.
You might remember the man some called Dark Gable and Count Macula for his late '80s hits like "Ain't No Half Steppin," "Smooth Operator" and "I Get the Job Done," and for his awesome flat-top haircut, but the episodes proves there's a lot more to Kane, in terms of his musical legacy and influence. And he's got new music coming; Kane's hooked up with Los Angeles-based funk band Connie Price & the Keystones to form what he calls 'hip-hop soul unit.'
"We're mixing the last two songs," he says. "I'd say expect a single by fall."
Just as importantly, the Brooklyn native now calls Raleigh home. "I always dug Raleigh," he says. "I used to come down in '89 and hang out at the Residence Inn, near the Denny's on Wake Forest [Road]."
That's right, you could run into Kane at the Food Lion!
Happiness recently caught up with the still sexy-voiced and low-key Blackanova and talked to him about his "Unsung" experience.
Happiness: Had you seen UnSung? Did you think you were a candidate for the show?
Kane: No. It's the type of thing where I love the show and hate the name. I love it, it digs deep into the artists' live. It's a wonderful show, I just hate the name.
Happiness: So you don't feel like you've been neglected?
Kane: No, people still show me love. I'm on the road, performing. I'm not complaining. I'm cool.
Happiness: When people do this kind of show that looks back at their lives, some say it's cathartic or a learning experience. What was it like for you?
Kane: Uncomfortable. I'm a private person. My show probably won't be as good as Shalamar or Debarge. I don't tell as much.
Happiness: You come across as very confident right at the onset of your career. You seem to know exactly what you wanted to do. You didn't have a problem helping others, like a young Jay-Z. Why do you think that was?
Kane: I've always believed that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. That's the American way. People come to this country and take what they want. We're filled with this message to stay in school and you can do this or that. There's a lot of skillful, educated people who don't have a job. But maybe it's because they didn't have that backbone to make it come real.
Happiness: Your brother describes you as Barry White, James Brown and Marvin Gaye smashed into one guy who raps. What do you think of that description?
Kane: That could be true. As far as stage performance, I looked up to Marvin Gaye and Barry White. When I was a little kid I would put on my pop's suits and do the Marvin Gaye dance in the mirror. I always wanted to be Marvin Gaye. That's the swagger I brought to the stage. But I wanted to be more exciting. Marvin Gaye was smooth. So when I got [dancers] Scoob and Scrap, we were like James Brown and the Flames. As for Barry White, when we worked together we saw similarities in our personalities; that may be the Virgo in us. I'm September 10 and he's September 12.
Happiness: You talked about not revealing much, but I have to ask: Someone says you were with 6 to 8 women a night. True or an exaggeration?
Kane: It's been a long time. I can't remember. I'm 42, so it's harder to remember things. [NOTE: Kane's slightly uncomfortable and knowing chuckle suggests he might remember more than he lets on.]
Happiness: You've got some new music in the works. How did you hook up with Connie Price and the Keystones?
Kane: Through Scion Motors. They brought me on the road and wanted a live band. When I saw how we connected and that chemistry, I thought 'This is something bigger. We've got to take this to the next level.'