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Dana Dane Story in The Other Paper

Dapper in a derby hat Photo by Wes Flexner

Dapper in a derby hat

Dana Dane at Martha’s Soul Food Bistro and Ultra Lounge

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 11:31 am | Updated: 11:37 am, Thu Jan 19, 2012.

By Wes Flexner

I had no idea what to expect Saturday when I stepped into Martha’s Soul Food Bistro and Ultra Lounge, an unfamiliar club on South Hamilton Road. But the place made a good first impression.

Everyone was dressed nice, the lighting was equally fine, and the drinks were cold and not overpriced.

I then was fortunate enough to meet Dana Dane, who was slated to perform. He also made a good impression.

The veteran Brooklyn emcee was rocking a crisp velvet blazer and dapper derby hat. His table had a bottle of champagne set in a bucket of ice. In short, Dana Dane looked like how hip-hop should look.

I kept my cool, but inside I was buggin’ out. After getting on I-71 and taking a mere 12-minute drive to the East Side, there I was speaking to a hip-hop legend.

I remember watching the video for “Cinderfella Dana Dane” at Rap City’s Old School Wednesdays. At the time, I was impressed by how debonair Dane was, but I also wondered why he sounded like Slick Rick.

Later I learned that Dane was in the Kangol Crew, the high school group of British-born, Bronx-raised rapper Rick. So styling with Rick the Ruler’s British accent was something fresh to do if you were from Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and putting out records in the mid-’80s.

Dane’s best album, Dana Dane With Fame, came out 1987 on Profile Records. It sold pretty well, going gold after peaking at No. 46 on the Billboard Charts. It became part of hip-hop history.

However, the current class of rappers wasn’t even born when Dane was making songs about being the coolest fool out on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Tyler, the Creator was born in 1991, A$AP Rocky in October 1988. Kendrick Lamar may have caught Dane’s 1987 hit “Nightmares” during an ultrasound prior to his birth in that same year.

On a lot of people’s radar, then, Dana Dane doesn’t exist even in nostalgic terms. His last album, Rollin’ Wit Dane, came out in 1995 on Madonna’s Maverick Records. Do you know any songs from this record? I don’t.

It’s not like Dane completely disappeared. For one thing, he hosts a show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s Backspin Network. But there’s no viral hit that’s currently buzzing.

Even so, when Dana took the stage Saturday night, it was a full-blown party. He executed hits like “Cinderfella Dana Dane” and “Nightmares” with cool precision. He also did old-school call-and-response routines. Before he left the stage, everyone in the packed room was partying and dancing.

The night reminded me that there’s a lot more to hip-hop than blogs, Twitter and clothing sponsorships.

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