Big Daddy Kane: Rap Like No Equal
Author Paul Edwards sat down with one of Hip Hop's most respected emcees to discuss his influences, writing process, and an inside look at how to rap like Kane.
Big Daddy Kane was one of the 104 emcees interviewed exclusively for the book How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC. The following is the full, previously unreleased interview.
As well as breaking down his process, Big Daddy Kane also gives his thoughts on Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, and why some rappers claim to write lyrics in their heads or never punch-in vocals. He also suggests how Hip Hop can get back to being more lyrical again and drops a ton of tips on performing live.
Interview by Paul Edwards
How to Rap: How did you learn how to rap?
Big Daddy Kane: It was something that I just started doing, I had an older cousin that was doing it, he was rapping. It was just something I wanted to do because I was a kid and I looked up to him, so I started just trying to write rhymes and just do what he was doing.
How to Rap: Did you memorize a lot of other people’s lyrics?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I knew how to sing [The Fatback Band's] "King Tim III" and [Sugarhill Gang's] "Rapper’s Delight," you know, all that stuff.
How to Rap: Did you mainly write a lot or freestyle a lot?
Big Daddy Kane: Okay… what do you mean by "freestyle"?
How to Rap: Improvised, rather than written down on paper…
Big Daddy Kane: I always wrote things down on paper… but see that term "freestyle" is like a new term, because in the ‘80s when we said we wrote a freestyle rap that meant that it was a rhyme that you wrote that was free of style, meaning that it’s not a subject matter – it’s not a story about a woman, it’s not a story about poverty, it’s basically a rhyme just bragging about yourself, so it’s basically free of style. That’s really what a freestyle is.
You know, off the top of the head, we just called that off the dome, when you don’t write it and just say whatever comes to mind. But freestyle is really a written rhyme. Has anybody ever told you that before?
How to Rap: Yeah, though people often also use the other definition of it…
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, that’s like some new term, but really a freestyle is a rhyme that you write basically that’s free of style.
How to Rap: So you always wrote everything down?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I mean when we went off the top of the head that’d be something that we’d do just playing around like on the corner, just playing to see who mess up first.
How to Rap: Was that ever a good way of learning?
Big Daddy Kane: Not really, because to me, this here Rap thing is an art form, and with art, you paint a picture, and I mean when you look at the list of the greatest lyricists that did they thing, they wrote their rhymes.
How to Rap: Was it harder learning back then, because people today can go back and study you or study Kool G Rap or Rakim, but back then you didn’t have as many people to build on?
Big Daddy Kane: There were great lyricists before us - I don’t know if you’ve heard any of the early Kool Moe Dee stuff when he was with the Treacherous 3, but Kool Moe Dee was an incredible emcee, early ‘80s, late ‘70s.
[Grandmaster] Melle Mel - that third verse on "Beat Street Breakdown," from that movie Beat Street, that third verse is one of the most incredible Hip Hop verses ever. And Grandmaster Caz is pretty much who I developed my style from, like my whole rap style once I started really developing it in the mid ‘80s was really based around what I heard from Grandmaster Caz. So we all had people we looked at, it’s like when you listen to Rakim, you can hear a heavy Kool Moe Dee influence.
How to Rap: Though you guys put in a lot of the work to keep it growing from there…
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I mean, as you come into something and you start doing it, there’s predecessors that basically set the stage that you’re following and I guess Caz was mine, I’m sure that Moe Dee was Rakim’s, and Melle Mel was the man because he had the biggest career.
How to Rap: When you sit down to write lyrics, is there a set process you go through?
Big Daddy Kane: Honestly, it differs, depending on the mood. There’s the type of thing where I’m really trying to target a certain subject, I might sit down and just think of all the types of twists and turns and different events that can happen in the situation, and I might just jot those down and then put it into rap form.
And then there’s sometimes where I’m just trying to write a rhyme, a regular rhyme and I’m just jotting down little hot, little slick lines that I thought of and then I just put it in the rap until a whole verse forms.
How to Rap: So sometimes you’ll have a concept beforehand and sometimes you’ll just write…
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, sometimes I have a concept beforehand, sometimes I might just be laying in bed and something just comes to me and I just start building off of it.
How to Rap: Where do you normally write?
Big Daddy Kane: I guess it really depends on the situation. If someone gives me a track, then I sit at home and write to it. If it’s the type of thing where I have a studio session to do with another artist then, you know, it’s crunch-time so you gotta make it happen right then.
How to Rap: Do you ever write on a phone or laptop?
Big Daddy Kane: Nah, I’ve never done that, because when I started rapping there wasn’t no phones! There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s cool too, it’s all documenting an idea, so you know, whatever works for you.
How to Rap: Have you ever written lyrics in you head?
Big Daddy Kane: Write in my head? No, I do what works for me, because I’ve been a nice motherfucker since I started up until now, so there’s no need for me to change my gameplan.
How to Rap: Where do most of the ideas come from?
Big Daddy Kane: Ideas can come from anything. I mean this conversation we’re having can turn into an idea for a song. I could say, you know what, because of this here, I think I want to make a song about really explaining what a freestyle rhyme is. That comes from what we just got through talking about. So an idea can come from anywhere.
How to Rap: Do you find it helps to have a large vocabulary?
Big Daddy Kane: I do, and that’s my personal opinion. Now, you take someone like [Notorious B.I.G.], I think that he was a great rapper, but he didn’t use a large vocabulary, his word play was really simple, he just put his words together a slick way and it worked real good for him. But in my opinion, I think it is good to have a large vocabulary, but that’s just for me, I can’t really say that for everybody. Because you have other artists, like I just mentioned Biggie, who didn’t have to use a large vocabulary and still got his point across and was recognized as being a hot emcee.
How to Rap: Do you think you can go over listeners’ heads if you get too complex with it?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, if you go too far, like there’s some rappers that use words that just be a little too out there, it makes it where someone doesn’t really know what you’re talking about and don’t really have the time to sit and try to understand. Especially now – in the ‘80s there was a handful of rappers, now there’s a million rappers, so if you go over somebody’s head then it’s not like, “I’m curious about what he said,” it’s more or less about, “I ain’t got no time for that shit, let me listen to another rapper.”
How to Rap: Do you ever go and research any of the information?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, you want to make sure you’re saying the right thing and you’re not saying something that don’t make no sense, because I’ve made that mistake before, so I try to make sure that I don’t do it again.
How to Rap: How do you come up with the flow and the rhythms you’re going to use?
Big Daddy Kane: The flow that I use, I really developed my rap style in the mid ‘80s based on Grandmaster Caz from the Cold Crush Brothers, from listening to him. That’s like really who I pretty much patterned my style from and I just really took it to another level once I had the opportunity to get out amongst the world myself.
How to Rap: Do you write to the beat to help you pattern the rhythms?
Big Daddy Kane: Sometimes, especially if I want to go with a specific style, like sometimes you want your flow to go in the same rhythm as the beat, so you’re writing to the beat. In all honesty, I think that is something very important to do, that is something like that the generation after me started doing. Those cats that was coming out in the ‘90s, they’re the ones who really started making it where they sat and wrote to the beat and their style matched that beat perfectly. It was something that was created a generation after me, but I think was a beautiful thing that was brought to the game, because I think it makes a song more whole.
Because as an emcee from the ‘80s, really your mentality is battle format, so when you’re writing a rhyme the majority of the time, you’re writing a bragging and boasting rhyme about yourself being the nicest emcee and you just basically write that, you don’t really have to have a beat. Or just maybe play something on a cassette and write it to any particular beat and then when you say it, you say it over anything, you can say it over a hand clap or someone banging on the lunch room table. Because really what your focus was, was to have a hot rhyme in case you gotta battle someone. So that was your main focus, not really making a rhyme for a song.
How to Rap: So would you say it’s a very different process, writing a song to writing a battle rhyme?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I would definitely say that because one thing is basically discussing a specific category, the other one is making a rhyme that’s gonna be better than what the next cat gonna say that you gonna battle.
How to Rap: Do you think it makes for better rhymes if you’re writing to battle someone, rather than writing a song?
Big Daddy Kane: It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to be accepted as the nicest emcee, then I guess your battle rhymes are gonna make you come across that way, because they’re like, “Yo, did you hear what he said? Oh my goodness,” because they’re listening to the rhymes that you’re saying like as far as how nice you are or the incredible stuff you’re saying.
Or if it’s where you’re really trying to create a song that someone’s going to feel, like take for example a Tupac Shakur or a Chuck D, these are cats that wrote songs that you felt. It wasn’t like the type of thing where they were trying to be recognized as the nicest emcee, like you don’t really hear cats saying like, “Yo, 2Pac was the illest emcee,” or “Chuck D was the illest emcee,” you respect them like, “Yo, I felt what they said… yo, that’s my jam right there… yo, he know what I’m going through.” So it can touch a person in a different way depending on where you’re trying to go with it.
How to Rap: Do you think that has to do with the flow?
Big Daddy Kane: Nah, I think when you look at artists like Melle Mel, Chuck D, Tupac Shakur, when you look at artists like these cats, it’s the type of thing where what they’re talking about is something that you’ve experienced, something that you’re probably having a problem with. A bad part of your life, something that you hate having to deal with and they just touched upon it in song and you felt it because this is something that’s been messing with you mentally. And you felt it and it touched you that way, it hits your heart.
How to Rap: Do you have any way of writing down the flow, where to pause, etc?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, the method I always used was commas, like I’d put a comma there. If someone else read it, it may not make no sense because you’d see a comma where it doesn’t go, but I would understand it because I know that that means there is a pause.
How to Rap: Have you ever forgotten the flow to anything you’ve written?
Big Daddy Kane: Not for me, something that I wrote for Biz [Markie], but he remembered it!
How to Rap: Is it ever hard to rhyme words together and also get your meaning across effectively at the same time?
Big Daddy Kane: Sometimes certain things I say might go a little over someone’s head, like to me it’s sounding real simple, but to someone else, they didn’t see it, like it went over their head.
How to Rap: Do you ever write rhymes to just practice rhyming words together?
Big Daddy Kane: If I do, I would say that it’s times when I’m really just playing with poetry, really maybe just writing a poem.
How to Rap: How long does it take to write a verse?
Big Daddy Kane: It differs, if you’re in your zone, you might bang it out in 15-20 minutes, you might bang it out in half an hour. Then sometimes it’s like somewhere I’m trying to go with this song, I’m trying to go somewhere and I’m creating it and now I’m almost finished and I’m realizing, nah, this ain’t right. And I end up just scratching lines out and I might just sit it down and come back the next day.
How to Rap: Do you find if it comes out quickly, it comes out better?
Big Daddy Kane: Me personally, I think that when I take my time with something, it comes out a lot better, because I can really, really get my point across, and if I see that like, this might be a little too deep, I figure out a way to dumb it down so that everybody can understand where I’m going.
How to Rap: Do you prefer to write hooks first or verses?
Big Daddy Kane: You know for some strange reason I like to write the verse first. I mean I know the majority of people do the chorus first and when I think about it, I guess it does make more sense to do the chorus first, but I just like to write the verses first, I don’t know why.
But then again, you know what, I never really been a dude who was good with hooks. Like lots of times back in the days, one of my dancers, Scoob [Lover], he might come up with a hook, or sometimes my deejay, Mister Cee. That’s never really been my forte, like I’ve never really been good at coming up with hooks. My brother even sometimes would help me with hooks, because I just wasn’t that creative with hooks.
How to Rap: How do you decide how many verses there will be and how long they’ll be?
Big Daddy Kane: I never really paid attention to the length of verses until probably the late ‘90s – I’d just write until it felt good. When I feel like I wanna end the verse there, sometimes it might be a 16, sometimes it might be a 32 – it just felt good. Some songs I’ve done through my career where it’s probably just one long hundred and eight bar verse, something like that.
How to Rap: Do you use most of the rhymes that you write?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I think I use most of the rhymes that I write. Sometimes I’ve thrown stuff away, sometimes I’ve misplaced rhymes
How to Rap: Do you ever go back to rhymes you’ve written in the past?
Big Daddy Kane: There have been situations where I’ve used rhymes from the past. Sometimes you do a song with someone and you get this feeling like it’s just business, like it’s not fun, like there’s no love there, there’s no respect there and it’s just basically business and I look at it that way – “Aight, let me get to see a check.”
So therefore, if I’m not really feeling like you’re communicating with me or you’re being difficult in the session because it’s your song, then there have been times where I’ll just say, “well, fuck it,” and take a rhyme I may have written two years ago and just put that down, keep it moving - grab my check and keep it moving.
But when I’m in the studio with somebody and they’re showing a lot of love and we’re vibing real good – then I want it to be perfect for them.
How to Rap: Do you find it easier working on solo work or when you guest on someone else’s song?
Big Daddy Kane: I think the most fun I have is when I’m working with someone that’s a nice emcee, because it’s inspirational. I come from where you’re hearing cats like Kool G Rap, KRS-One, Rakim, you’re hearing a lot of rappers that’s spitting hard so it’s like you gotta stay on top of your toes, because there’s a lot of competition. Right now I don’t really hear no competition, I don’t really hear no nice emcees, so if I’m in the studio with someone who’s a nice emcee, it inspires me to really write.
Like for example I was on UGK's [Underground Kingz] album and you know I respect G Rap as a nice emcee and I respect Bun B as a nice emcee, so knowing I was going to be on a song with the two of those dudes was like I really had to step my pen game up, because I respect those dudes as emcees. I did something with Game, and when I came to the studio, I’ll be honest with you, I was pissy drunk and then KRS-One put his verse down and when I heard KRS’s verse, I sobered up real quick! And started really writing, because he wasn’t playing and I respect KRS as an emcee.
How to Rap: Do you ever lay a verse, then hear someone else’s verse on the same song and then re-write your verse?
Big Daddy Kane: Nah, that’s cheating!
How to Rap: So you think friendly competition helps everyone to step up their game?
Big Daddy Kane: Well with me, that’s all it is, it’s friendly competition. Like back in the ‘80s, me and Kool G Rap, we would be on the phone, like one, two o’clock in the morning… and I’m like, “Yo, check this verse out I just wrote,” and I spit the verse to G, and you know, he’s like, “Okay, that’s hot, that’s hot, that’s hot,” and it’d make him do his thing. The next night, G might call me and he’s like, “Yo, check this verse out,” and he spit his verse and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s fire, that’s fire,” and it’d make me step my game up. That’s the friendly competition that we had.
How to Rap: So do you think that it helps that you came up in a crew with so many talented people?
Big Daddy Kane: Oh yeah, definitely, when you surrounded by talent, it’s gonna keep you on your toes and also it makes the whole thing fun.
How to Rap: What do you think is more important, the subject matter or the flow?
Big Daddy Kane: Well, what I think is more important, is the subject matter, what I think is more important to today’s consumer, is the flow. Because really people just want to be able to dance and have something they can sing along to, today, it’s not like too many people are really listening to lyrics like they did back in the day, but to me, I think the subject matter.
How to Rap: Do you think it will get back to where people will respect that more, Hip Hop with more complex lyrics?
Big Daddy Kane: I think that the only way that it can get back to where people respect the lyrical art form is that if there were real hot lyricists as stars. Like if there were some real, real hot lyricists that was on the level of some of these other big rappers, then I think that it would get back to that.
How to Rap: Is ghost-writing for someone else harder?
Big Daddy Kane: For me, ghost-writing for someone else wasn’t hard, because if I did it in my style that’s pretty much something good for you, and doing it in someone else’s style, if they have a more simpler style then it makes my job easier, because now I ain’t got to think too complicated. For example, writing for Biz, it wasn’t really about having hot rhymes, it was about having something funny, Biz just wanted something funny to say. And with [Roxanne] Shanté I could try to pretty much put it in her flow, but really with Shanté she wanted to do what I liked doing, just basically being sarcastic and she is like the master of sarcasm. So basically I’d be sarcastic like I normally would, but just make it to fit a woman.
How to Rap: What was it like writing "Set It Off"?
Big Daddy Kane: With "Set It Off," it was like I really wanted to create that James Brown feel like on "Sex Machine" or "Pass The Peas" like, “can I count it off? One, two, three…” like on "Pass The Peas" my favorite part is when The JB's are screaming "Pass the peas, like we used to say," and James just sound like he can’t even take it no more and he’s just going, “Pass ‘em then!” And the beat drop – it’s like I wanted that feel so I started off with the lyrics first before the beat even dropped, like I was trying to really go after that James Brown feel. And "Set It Off," by the way, is like my favorite song I’ve ever done in my whole career and that was the feel we was trying to go and just keep the energy flowing, like I just wanted it to be a real energetic song, like a workout song.
How to Rap: Did you write it to the beat?
Big Daddy Kane: "Set It Off" was already a verse, the first verse ends before it actually does. When I had the beat, I added more on - some of that first verse I already had before I had the beat.
How to Rap: So you wrote it in different parts?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah.
How to Rap: Did it take a long time to do?
Big Daddy Kane: Nah, what happened - Mark the 45 King, he played a beat for Biz, he said, “Biz, I got a beat that I think will be perfect for you.” Biz heard it and Biz said that it’s aight, it’s okay. Then when Biz got through, I said, “Yo, that first beat that you wanted Biz to rap on, can I hear it again?” And he played it, I was like, “Yo, is there any way that beat can go faster?” And he said, “It’s funny you say that, because it’s actually a 45 [RPM record] and I slowed it down,” then he played it at the real pace, which is the pace you hear on "Set It Off," and I was like, “I’ll take it…” I was like, “Give it to me, I’ll take it!”
I always wanted that sound, that James Brown sound. And I was like, “Yeah, I want this in it…” and he was like, “Alright, give me a few days, let me play with it and I’ma put something else with it too, for the hook.” And he put that, I don’t know whatever that other sound is, that thing, and when he brought it back I was like, “Yes sir!”
I already knew what verse I was going to put with it, I just had to figure out what else I was going to put. I ended up writing a second verse, never got around to writing a third one and then Marley [Marl] told me that I could have some time and I knew that I was dying to do that song, so I just said, “Fuck the third verse,” and just went in and just did two. Then for a third verse I basically did shout-outs.
How to Rap: Is it a difficult track to perform live because it’s fast?
Big Daddy Kane: Nah, that song is so imbedded in my head, that it’s like a walk through the park, and I mean I have faster songs. "Warm It Up Kane" and "Set It Off" are the same tempo, they both 113 [BPM] and "Wrath Of Kane" I think is like 120-125.
How to Rap: When you record the lyrics, do you have them memorized?
Big Daddy Kane: Sometimes I have lyrics memorized, sometimes I read them off the paper.
How to Rap: Do you think it turns out better when you have them memorized?
Big Daddy Kane: I think that when you have the lyrics memorized it’s a little better because it’s like now you’re not concentrating on reading the words and you can basically concentrate on the cadence, so it makes it a lot easier… like if you just want to play with it and deliver the words a little differently.
How to Rap: If you do have it memorized, do you still take the paper in with you?
Big Daddy Kane: If I have it memorized, yeah, sometimes I do take the paper in with me, just in case, you never know. You might be like, “Damn, what was that line again?” Yeah, you might forget.
How to Rap: Do you decide where you’re going to breathe within a track so you don’t run out of breath?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I try to get those little spots where I can catch a breath, because I have asthma, so I try to catch those little spots where I can catch a breath. Because my whole thing is like, I’ve seen a lot of people try to do fast songs and then when they perform live they can’t even say their own lyrics and I think that’s embarrassing. So I try to make it where I have those spots where I can catch a breath here – I might slow up the flow for two bars or say something real sarcastic real fast so I can take a deep breath, so that it can run through because I’m not gonna look like that, like I’m on stage and can’t perform my own songs.
How to Rap: So have you practiced the verse a lot before you record it to find those breathing spots?
Big Daddy Kane: Nah, lots of times it’ll be like where I’m going with it and I found that I run out of breath right here, so right there on the spot I’ll figure out a different way to deliver that line, so that it’ll work.
How to Rap: How did you learn to say everything so quickly and clearly?
Big Daddy Kane: If you say the rhyme to the track and when you listen back, you’re listening and it sounds like something is mumbled to you – if it sounds like that to you then imagine how it’s going to sound to everybody else if you can’t recognize your own shit. So, I’ll just say it again.
How to Rap: Do you prefer to do verses all in one take or do you punch-in?
Big Daddy Kane: I’ll punch-in, if it’s the type of situation where because you messed up you’re going to say the entire verse over, you’re gonna mess around and be there all night. So if this is gonna make it move it faster, then I’ll punch it in. I don’t even worry about that, because I know on stage I’ll be able to say the whole thing.
You see lots of times, people try to blow certain things out of proportion just to make themselves sound good, but it’s not even that serious. Like you’ll hear sometimes a person say, “Yo, I did that verse in one take,” but it’s like, “Yeah, okay, but the verse was wack, so who gives a fuck!” It wasn’t even a hot verse, the verse was wack, so who really gives a shit.
How to Rap: Do you think there is a lot of that in Hip Hop?
Big Daddy Kane: Well yeah, it’s like this here - if you don’t have the skills to do something, you’ll find a way to make up for it in something else. Like, “This verse was wack, but yo, I did it in one take… yeah, but I didn’t write this, all that I said off the top of the head, I don’t even need no pen.” Well if that’s what you come up with off the top of the head then obviously you do need a pen. People come up with all types of stuff.
There are situations now, where it’s like, someone’s beaten somebody in a battle, the other cat wants to punch the dude in the face. So it’s like you come up with other things to make up for where you lack.
How to Rap: Do you prefer performing live or recording in the studio?
Big Daddy Kane: Right now, I prefer performing live, I like that more.
How to Rap: Why do you find that better?
Big Daddy Kane: Because back in the days it was the type of thing where when you were in the studio, you’re putting this together, it’s like in your mind you could just see the picture – “Aw, when they hear this! I can’t wait for them to hear this.” So you enjoyed that whole thing, just the anticipation. It’s like you’re waiting for your woman to give birth and you’re trying to figure out if it’s a boy or a girl, that type of thing, it used to be that type of feel. But like what we said earlier, it’s not as if people really care about lyrics anymore. As long as they can sing the hook and dance, they’re good.
So therefore I like the performances because it’s like when you’re on stage, the crowd is into what you’re doing, you’re creating an energy and making everybody feel good, and that’s fun to me. But to me, you know this whole thing is a job, to entertain my public.
How to Rap: What do you think makes a good live performance?
Big Daddy Kane: First of all, no lip-syncing, second – general stage movement, like you know how to work the stage. You understand that there is a stage left and a stage right, you understand that you have to interact with the crowd, making eye contact with a chick in the audience, snatch somebody’s hat off, put it on your head, stuff like that where they know that you recognize them, you’re not just performing like, “whatever, let me get up out of here.” You recognize them.
People on the right side don’t feel cheated because you stood on the center of the stage the whole show. You didn’t bring a whole entourage of motherfuckers that’s trying to get shine and they can’t even see the person that’s singing the song. And then also I feel like you have to give somebody something extra, you shouldn’t just come to a show and perform your hit songs and bounce, because if that’s the case then they could have just stayed at home and listened to the album.
Give them something extra, give them a freestyle or two, maybe some dancing if you want to take it there, I don’t know how B-boy you get. Your deejay got a solo where he doing some fancy scratching, whatever the case may be, throwing some t-shirts in the crowd, just something extra other than what they hear on the song all the time. Even if you’re doing a song, you take the last four lines of a verse and switch it to something else, just something extra where there was some type of twist where they felt like they got something different than what they got on the album.
How to Rap: What do you think about today’s emcees compared to older emcees?
Big Daddy Kane: There’s some skillful emcees out there, I’ve heard a lot of emcees with skills. I feel bad that they don’t get the exposure, but I hear a lot of emcees who got skills. I like that kid Saigon.
How to Rap: Though do you think back in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s there were more lyrical emcees?
Big Daddy Kane: Yeah. Well, before I say that, hold up. I know that the lyrical emcees got the exposure, from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s - the lyrical emcees got the exposure. I’m sure that there are a lot of lyrical emcees out there right now, but they don’t receive the exposure.
How to Rap: So what do you think changed?
Big Daddy Kane: Well I mean pretty much with anything else - once quantity comes in, quality goes out.
How to Rap: What advice would you give to people who want to be better at emceeing?
Big Daddy Kane: Basically just try being original, just be original. Throughout the years I’ve seen a lot of people that people have said, “Yo, he’s nice! Yo, he’s ill!” and it’s like in my mind I’m like, “Yeah, but he sound just like this motherfucker.” And it’s like as soon as this motherfucker ain’t hot then nobody is talking about them anymore, they’re not even relevant anymore, they’re not a relevant factor in the game anymore, that’s it, because you sounded like somebody else – he’s over, so you’re over.
[On the opposite side,] you take Big Pun, Big Pun had a kind of G Rap kind of flow, but it was like during a time when no one else was trying to have that faster flow, everybody else was either trying to sound like Jay-Z or Jadakiss. And Pun came with that fast G Rap kind of flow and he won! He was different, he stood out.