Unsung Heroes

Run D.M.C. and Grandmaster Flash are often credited as the founding fathers of hip-hop. But when it comes to influencing modern rap culture, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, and Biz Markie were undeniably da men. Take Markie, the human beatbox, whose off-kilter anthems like "Just a Friend" legitimized humor and wit in hip-hop. Or Big Daddy, who prophesied "Pimpin' Ain't Easy" before hustlin' was a twinkle in Jay-Z's eye. Think sex and materialism are new themes? Slick Rick pioneered them way back when, with his glistening bling and misogynistic rhymes. Yeah, rap owes a lot to these three — sadly, each shrank from the limelight faster than you can say Yo! MTV Raps. However, they all have rabid cult followings, and for good reason: These oft-forgotten legends deliver potent and raw hip-hop the new school still strives to match.

Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, and Biz Markie perform at 10 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at Passion in Seminole Paradise, 5701 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $25. Call 954-696-3233.

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John Linn