Rap and hip-hop music pioneer Big Daddy Kane is slated to play former Assemblymember and former Kings County Democratic Party Boss Clarence Norman Jr. in a James E. Davis film biography currently in pre-production and slated to start filming in 2021.
Kane first became involved with rap and hip hop in 1984 after becoming friends with Biz Markie, and he went on to co-write some of Biz’s best know lyrics. Both Kane and Markie eventually became important members of the Queens-based Juice Crew, a collective headed by renowned producer Marley Marl.
Among the people who got some of their early starts in the hip hop music business under Kane was Rapper Jay-Z, who toured with Kane during the early 1990s and was brought on stage to freestyle when Kane took a break from the stage to go change outfits.
The late City Councilman James E. Davis (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) grew up in Crown Heights and was a New York City Police Officer before getting into politics. His early political career had him fighting the then black Central Brooklyn political machine that included among others Norman, former City Councilman and Assemblyman Al Vann, former Assemblyman Roger Green, and young attorney and now State Attorney General Letitia James.
After losing several elections to this machine, James E. Davis succeeded first in beating Norman for the Democratic District Leader position and then winning the City Council seat. He was shot to death by a political rival in city Hall July 23, 2003
James E. Davis is credited for organizing the first nonprofit organization to end black-on-black crime in Brooklyn called the Love Yourself Stop Violence Foundation. As the first independent black politician to successfully run against the black machine at the time, he paved the way for among others, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who also started as a New York City cop.
Kings County Politics spoke with Big Daddy Kane this week at a fundraiser in Clinton Hill for Democratic District Leader Geoffrey Davis, brother to James E. Davis.
KCP: Did you ever meet James E. Davis?
BDK: I never met him but even though I never met him, I have a lot of respect for the brother because of his work in the stop the violence movement, all of his concerns for the neighborhood and all the great things he attempted to do.
KCP: What do you think of the state of hip and rap music right now?
BDK: I think it’s very popular and it’s very profitable and making a lot of money and probably the biggest genre in music at the current time. I’m happy to see all these young cats making a lot of money. It’s like anything – cars, music, whatever – once quantity comes in quality goes out. That’s just the rules of mass production, but there’s a lot of young cats able to feed their family and I’m glad to see that.
KCP: Are you looked up to as a pioneer and elder statesman in the rap and hip hop music industry? Do a lot of these younger cats come up to you and ask you about your experiences?
BDK: Every once in a blue moon. I think there’s a big disconnect between generations because people tend to use the words ‘old school’ rather than a pioneer. A lot of people look at you at like a thing of the past. So we don’t really get an opportunity to break bread with the younger generation the way we need to, to really educate and school them about the things to look out for. The dos and don’t’s in this industry but I think there are great artists such as Kendrick Lamar and J Cole, Logic and The Rhapsody that are trying to bridge that gap between generations and hopefully that will happen, because the next generation, you know, you don’t want them to come into anything blind.
KCP: Do you ever run into Slick Rick or any of the other rap pioneers?
BDK: Oh yeah. We tour together all the time, Me, Slick Rick, Whodini, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte. We’re always together.
JayThel Productions, the executive producers for the James E. Davis film biography has a working script in hand and expect to do further casting in the near future. Interested co-producers and investors are encouraged to email [email protected].