Long Live the Kane is the debut album by MCBig Daddy Kane, released by Cold Chillin' Records in 1988. It was produced by Marley Marl and established both him and Kane as premier artists during hip hop's golden age. Kane displayed his unique rapping technique while covering topics including love ("I'll Take You There"), Afrocentricity ("Word to the Mother(Land)") and his rapping prowess ("Set It Off"). Marley Marl displays a sparse production style - creating beats with fast-paced drums and lightly utilized James Brownsamples.
Four singles were released in promotion of Kane's first album: "Raw/Word to the Mother (Land)," "Ain't No Half-Steppin'/Get Into It," "I'll Take You There/Wrath of Kane" and "Set It Off/Get Into It." The most commercially successful of these singles were "Ain't No Half-Steppin'", which reached #53 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and "I'll Take You There", which reached #73 on the same chart, but also peaked at #21 on the Hot Rap Singles chart. The other two singles did not chart, but "Raw" and "Set It Off" popularized Big Daddy Kane's high-speed style and abundant use of word play. "Raw" and "Ain't No Half Steppin'" are both described as "underground sensation[s]" and "classic[s]" by Allmusic's Steve Huey. "Raw" does not appear on Long Live the Kane, but a remix which utilizes the same beat does.
Big Daddy Kane's debut album contains many tracks that were later featured on greatest hits compilations. "Ain't No Half Steppin'" alone is featured on The Very Best of Big Daddy Kane, Marley Marl's House of Hits, two "best of" Cold Chillin' Records compilations and over five additional hip-hop hit compilations. Nowithstanding "Ain't No Half Steppin'," The Very Best of Big Daddy Kane contains five songs from Kane's debut album. Allmusic's Steve Huey regards "'Raw,' 'Set It Off,' and 'Ain't No Half-Steppin' [as] flawless bids for immortality [that] haven't lost an ounce of energy."
Big Daddy Kane's debut album is one of the most influential hip hop albums from the Golden Era. Kane's lyrics have been sampled and reused, his rapping style has been emulated and Marley Marl's beats have also been emulated. Nas' "Where Are They Now" - a tribute to hip hop's unknown legends - not only references Big Daddy Kane's group, the Juice Crew, but uses the same James Brown sample ("Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved") that Marley Marl used on "Set It Off." In addition, lyrics from "Just Rhymin' with Biz" have been sampled by Pete Rock & CL Smooth ("I Get Physical," "The Main Ingredient," "In the Flesh" and "Get on the Mic"), AMG "Jiggable Pie" AZ ("Rather Unique"), the Stieber Twins ("PBB Get's Physical"), Big L ("M.V.P."), Gang Starr ("Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"), the Beastie Boys ("So What'cha Want"), Real Live ("Real Live Shit (Remix)"), RZA ("Cameo Afro") and interpolated by Masta Ace ("Nostalgia" by Marco Polo) and Brother Ali ("Star Quality"). "Ain't No Half Steppin'" has also been sampled by various artists including Nice & Smooth ("No Delayin'"), Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs ("I'm Different"), The Notorious B.I.G. ("Ready to Die"), Jeru the Damaja ("Frustrated Nigga"), Elzhi ("Talkin' In My Sleep"), People Under The Stairs ("Youth Explosion"), the Hieroglyphics ("One Life, One Love"), Blackalicious ("A To G"), K-Solo ("Letterman") and MF Doom ("Potholderz"). In addition, Gang Starr samples vocals from "Word to the Mother (Land)" on "Manifest", Mr. Lif samples vocals from "Raw (Remix)" on "Live from the Plantation", and Celph Titled and Buckwild sample a vocal from "Rhymin with Biz" on "Eraserheads."
On "The Listening," a 2002 song by Little Brother, rapper Phonte reminisces about the Golden Age and his influences stating:
"Back when 'fresh' was the word, and 'Raw' was on Prism/
In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. In 1999, ego trip ranked it as the sixth best hip hop album released in 1988. In 1989, Spin chose it as the twentieth best album of 1988.Nas ranked the album as one of his 25 Favorite Albums.
It was certified as gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1989, and it remains as one of only two of Kane's albums to have sold over 500,000 copies. The other Big Daddy Kane album to reach gold status, It's a Big Daddy Thing, is the only album said to rival Long Live the Kane as the rapper's best album. Allmusic's Stanton Swihart contributes the positive reception of Long Live the Kane to Big Daddy Kane's versatility and personality:
Even though he spends a good 90% of the album boasting about his skills and abilities on the microphone, and cutting those of other MCs, Big Daddy Kane consistently proves himself a thrilling artist on his debut album, Long Live the Kane, one of the most appealing creations from the original new school of rap. This debut captures the Big Daddy Kane who rocked the house at hip-hop clubs and verbally cut up any and all comers in the late '80s with his articulate precision and locomotive power -- the Big Daddy Kane who became an underground legend, the Big Daddy Kane who had the sheer verbal facility and razor-clean dexterity to ambush any MC and exhilarate anyone who witnessed or heard him perform. There are missteps here, to be sure -- especially "The Day You're Mine," on which Kane casts himself as a loverman over a stilted drum machine and lackluster, cheesily seductive singing (offering a glimpse of the particular corner into which he would eventually paint himself). But there are also plenty of legitimate early hip-hop classics, none of which have lost an ounce of their power, and all of which serve as reminders of a time and era when hip-hop felt immediate, exciting, fresh, and a little bit dangerous (in the figurative, rather than literal, sense), and when hip-hop spawned commercial tastes of the moment rather than surrendering to them. Although his next album would be nearly the artistic equal of the debut -- and, in many ways, even bettered it -- Big Daddy Kane would never sound as compelling or as fresh as on this first effort.