Classic Albums: 'Dana Dane With Fame' by Dana Dane

Classic Albums: 'Dana Dane With Fame' by Dana Dane

Published Mon, May 23, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT

Dana Dane always had style.

"Coming up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and basically, my moms was always into fashion," he explained to The Business Of Hip-Hop in 2019. "Which in turn, somehow rubbed off on me. I was buying material and designing my own tailor made pants at the age of 11 and even then Delancey Street was my spot to shop. My moms would always take me there because they had good bargains, but they also had fashion styles that appealed to the future Hip Hop culture. And can’t forget the blaxploitation movies they had a lot to do with how I interpreted my style. Also my friendship with Rick had something to do with it. We were both into looking and being fly."

The Brooklyn rapper had been part of The Kangol Crew alongside his Bronx mate, Ricky Walters. As MC Ricky D, Ricky would break big fresh out of high school, landing a gig as a member of Doug E. Fresh's Get Fresh Crew and scoring hits with 1985s "Ladi Dadi" and "The Show." Dane was primed for his own big break, and he would soon land a deal with Profile Records. The label was seeing major success with Run-D.M.C. and, after that groups' first two albums had gone gold and platinum, respectively, sought to push further into the Hip-Hop market. With Doug E. Fresh and MC Ricky D, the label signed Ricky's former partner-in-rhyme, noted for his vocal similarity to Rick.

Dane delivered his first single in 1985, a comedic horror rap called "Nightmares." With his affected British accent and witty rhymes, Dane told the story of a horrific date experience to his psychiatrist. The song became a major hit for Dane; his first single hit the R&B charts and the music video became a popular fixture on video shows. Suddenly, Dana Dane was a star.

After the success of "Nightmares," Profile set about recording a follow-up Dana Dane single.

Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor was working on Salt-N-Pepa's debut album, Hot, Cool & Vicious, when he was tapped by Dane to produce "Delancey Street," the rapper's second single for Profile. The song again highlighted Dane's penchant for storytelling, as he describes being robbed by a trio of sexy women while hanging in the famous shopping district in Lower Manhattan. Dane rhyme style and Hurby's production proved to a perfect marriage, as "Delancey Street" became a hit in the tri-state area.

The single didn't quite match "Nightmares" as far as radio success across-the-board, but it bolstered Profile's interests in pushing forward with a full album for Dana Dane. Salt-N-Pepa's Hot, Cool & Vicious was a smash success, particularly after the successful remix of the single "Push It," so Hurby was now in charge of producing a full album for Dana Dane. Azor's winning touch wasn't fully established yet, but he had an easy-to-spot gift for infectious production; and he helmed Dane's next single "This Be The Def Beat."

Over a flip of "Enjoy Yourself" by the Jacksons, Dana Dane extolls the virtues of his producer, Hurby. The song also got the video treatment, giving Dane his first official vid since "Nightmares" and the first official video from his new album. Dana Dane With Fame would be released on May 23, 1987, as the first album from the Brooklyn rhymer. And "This Be the Def Beat" became one of his most popular videos.

Dana Dane With Fame echoes the sound of Salt-N-Pepa's Hot, Cool & Vicious; both albums highlight Hurby's early production, though there's decidedly less of a Azor's trademark go-go fixation on ...With Fame. As parts of the album were recorded as early as 1985, Dana Dane's debut comes sandwiched between two sonically distinct periods in '80s Hip-Hop: the drum machine-driven, synth-heavy boom bap that broke rap through to the radio mid-decade; and the sample-heavy soul and funk loops of the latter 1980s. Both of the album's hit singles highlight those respective approaches, with production on "Nightmares" echoing the digitized trunk rattlers of Def Jam; while Azor sounded more at home flipping Brick on "Cinderfella Dana Dane."

The title track boasts a sample of "Impeach The President" by the Honeydrippers; one of the first noteworthy tracks to flip what would become something of a rap go-to breakbeat. And Dane's distinctive flow is center stage throughout ...The Fame.

Dane's similarities to Slick Rick are well-documented and discussed, and have been since before the two men broke through as solo superstars in the late 1980s. Rick had dropped the "MC Ricky D" moniker after signing with Def Jam as a solo artist following his stint with Doug E. Fresh, and his platinum-selling debut would be released over a year after Dana Dane With Fame.

Classic Albums

Beastie Boys debut album LICENSED TO ILL turns 35

Classic Albums: 'Licensed To Ill' by Beastie Boys

Nov 15, 2021


Classic Albums: 'Radio' by LL COOL J

May 16, 2022

Straight Out The Jungle

Classic Albums: 'Straight Out the Jungle' by Jungle Brothers

Feb 02, 2021

Dane's career would take off with the success of Dana Dane With Fame. Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor and Dana Dane found a perfect combination of infection production and witty story raps; and the success of Dana Dane With Fame catapulted Dane onto the charts, while also setting the stage for the rest of Azor's Idolmakers crew of artists. His next success would be Kid 'n Play, whose gold-selling debut album 2 Hype would be released in 1988. Sweet Tee and Kwame would also released Hurby-helmed projects in 1988, as the Luv Bug's production bonafides would make him one of rap's most successful hitmakers heading into the 1990s.

Dane would move on to other producers and labels in his career, most notably a stint with Rap-A-Lot in the mid-1990s but Dana Dane With Fame is the album that established his persona and gave him some of the most recognized tracks of his career. It remains a perfect snapshot of a period when panache and a sense of humor made a clever Brooklyn emcee one of the rising stars of the era. Dana Dane is his name.

What's new