by Andrew Miller

Big Daddy Kane w/Killah Priest, Bazaar Royale, DJ Sayeed

Thurs March 20

Berbati's Pan

He emerged on the rap scene with a bang, appeared in Madonna's Sex book, popped up in some truly horrible movies and released a series of atrocious albums. This brother who's calm and plain goes by the name of... Vanilla Ice. And while Posse star Big Daddy Kane has shared some common career ground with the funky white boy, there are far more reasons to recommend him.

For starters, while Kane authored the Afrocentric ode, "Word to the Mother" (as in the motherland), V-Ice popularized the inane phrase, "word to your mother." And while Kane's high-top fade haircut represented hiphop style's peak, Ice's Eraserhead-with-racing-stripes debacle marked its nadir. The man born Antonio Hardy assaulted his given name on wax, claiming "the name of Antonio is gay to me." The man born Robert Van Winkle obscured his identity completely, cooking up a biography filled with ghetto-fabulous trials and tribulations. The Midas-tongued Kane put the gold in hiphop's late-'80s golden age while Vanilla merely added the prefix "c" to rap. And yet, the two came frighteningly close to converging in the past decade.

Kane came up with the Juice Crew, regularly rhyming alongside Biz Markie and Masta Ace. He collaborated with one of hiphop's first superproducers, Marley Marl, on the rapid-fire lyrical showcases "Raw" and "Ain't No Half Steppin.'" On Long Live the Kane and It's A Big Daddy Thing, he combined furious freestyles, goofy humor and a uniquely optimistic take on social issues. With "I'll Take You There" and "Lean on Me," Kane imagined ridding the world of poverty and violence instead of merely reporting on those conditions; in a genre packed with burgeoning street reporters, he excelled at utopian science-fiction.

Unfortunately, Kane's pin-up status went to his nattily trimmed dome. Starting with 1990's Taste of Chocolate, Kane started flooding his albums with lackluster lusty fare that recalled To The Extreme's infamous Val-inilla-tine, "I Love You."

Fortunately, Kane's pioneer status still holds weight with old-school enthusiasts. So while Vanilla languishes at second-rate rock clubs, punishing hecklers with third-rate Korn impressions, Kane rates a greatest-hits tour that draws an adoring, aging following. At least part of his "I'll Take You There" prophecy will come to pass: "Senior citizens party with the hiphop crowd."