In 1984, Big Daddy Kane became friends with Biz Markie, and he would co-write some of Biz’s best-known lyrics. Both eventually became important members of the Queens-based Juice Crew, a collective headed by renowned producer Marley Marl. Kane signed with Tyrone Williams’s (Marl’s manager) and Len Fichtelberg’s Cold Chillin’ Records label in 1987 and debuted the same year with the 12″ single “Raw,” which was an underground hit. Kane is known for his ability to syncopate over faster hip hop beats, and despite his asthmatic condition, he is acknowledged as one of the pioneering masters of fast rhyming. His sense of style is renowned and set a number of the late-1980s and early-1990s hip-hop trends (high-top fades, velour suits, and four-finger rings). The backronym King Asiatic Nobody’s Equal is often applied to his moniker.
He released his debut album on Cold Chillin’ Records in the early summer of 1988 called Long Live the Kane, which featured the hit “Ain’t No Half Steppin'”. The following year Kane released his second album and biggest hit to date It’s a Big Daddy Thing, which included 1970s sample throwbacks like “Smooth Operator” and the Teddy Riley-produced track “I Get the Job Done,” which hit the R&B top 40 during the closing of the 1980s. He also had a memorable verse on the Marley Marl-produced track “The Symphony (song)” released in late 1988, which included Juice Crew members Craig G, Masta Ace, and Kool G Rap.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked his song “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'” #25 on its list of The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time, calling him “a master wordsmith of rap’s late golden age and a huge influence on a generation of MCs.”