Happy 25th Anniversary to Big Daddy Kane’s fifth studio album Looks Like A Job For…, originally released May 25, 1993.
The many plaudits handed to Big Daddy Kane since his classic 1988 debut album Long Live The Kane are fully justified and well deserved. He was a technically gifted emcee way before people even began talking and writing about what a technically gifted emcee actually is. He is still regarded today as one of the greatest, perched upon the highest level alongside Kool G Rap, Rakim, Slick Rick and KRS-One.
This reputation and the expectation it creates was probably weighing heavy by the time Big Daddy Kane was ready to drop his fifth album, 1993’s Looks Like a Job For..., released 25 years ago this week.
Five albums deep can be a tricky time for any artist, but Kane would also have been frustrated in 1993 by the disappointing response to his previous album, 1991’s Prince of Darkness. In retrospect, that album wasn’t bad at all, but many detractors at the time would certainly have been pleased with what we got when he returned with the much stronger Looks Like a Job For...
Ultimately, like all good Big Daddy Kane albums, what makes Looks Like a Job For... notable is the incredible amount of skill with which every word pours out of Kane whenever he opens his mouth. He’s as sharp here as on his earlier albums, effortlessly spitting lines of a standard that most rappers can only dream of writing. Fast flow, slower flow, rhymes about his slickness, lyrics that hint at more serious subjects. It’s all here, and gets turned on and off depending on the beat. We could list some of the best lyrical gems from the album, but we’d honestly be here all day.
Big Daddy Kane himself handles production on several tracks, alongside heavyweights Easy Mo Bee (“Stop Shammin,” “Rest In Peace,” “Here Comes Kane, Scoob and Scrap,” and the remixed version of “Nuff Respect”) and Large Professor (“N****z Never Learn").
Producing for Big Daddy Kane was a pivotal moment for both producers. Easy Mo Bee would soon score major hits for 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.. Large Pro, meanwhile, had started to gain real momentum by 1993 thanks to beats for his group Main Source, Kool G Rap, Eric. B & Rakim, and a young kid from Queens by the name of Nas.
But Looks Like a Job For... also has several tracks produced by the Trackmasters, which 25 years later now seems a bit weird. The production team made hit records from the mid ‘90s onwards as their sound become synonymous with the excesses of the so-called bling era.
Before that, however, they had cut teeth producing for many of Kane’s contemporaries, including Chubb Rock, and Kane’s fellow Juice Crew members, Kool G Rap and Roxanne Shante. Here they produce the title track plus the single “How You Get a Record Deal?” on which Kane dismisses rappers undeserving of being signed to a label.
The album caught some commercial success with “Very Special” featuring Spinderella from Salt-N-Pepa. It’s far from Kane’s best work but it’s worth noting for a few reasons. First, it served as his only Top 40 Billboard hit record. Second, the song is essentially a cover of a 1981 track of the same name by Debra Laws. The art of sampling in hip-hop is much discussed, but examples of covers are less common, and perhaps controversial in a genre that puts so much emphasis on originality.
Lastly, like or despise them, the “love song” was a ubiquitous part of most rap albums from this time, even those by the hardest emcees. Kane was therefore very much on trend, however much we may have frowned upon it at the time. This type of song also tallied with Kane’s ‘90s reputation as a lothario, boosted by the infamous appearances in Madonna’s Sex book and Playgirl.
Almost a decade later in 2002, Jennifer Lopez released a song named “All I Have” that is basically a cover of the Big Daddy Kane version of “Very Special,” with guest raps from one of Kane’s peers and the master of the rap love song, LL Cool J.
Kane released Daddy’s Home a year later and Veteranz’ Day in 1998, rounding off a seven-album run of quality releases barely unmatched by any other rapper. He has yet to release a new album since, but still tours today when the mood takes him, both solo and with the Juice Crew.