Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What "Half Steppin" And Other Vernacular Terms Mean In Big Daddy Kane's 1988 Hip Hop Classic "Ain't No Half Steppin'"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post shoewcases Big Daddy Kane's 1988 Hip Hop track "Ain't No Half Steppin'".

This post also provides definitions of the term "half steppin" and certain other terms & references that that are used in that track. Additions and corrections are welcome.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, linguistic, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks Big Daddy Kane for his musical legacy. Thanks also to to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

Created by box, 2010
..."The prestigious Rolling Stone Magazine voted this as the 25th best hip hop song of all time.
Written By Marley Marl & Big Daddy Kane.

Scratches- DJ Mister Cee

Mixed By Marley Marl

Release Date -June 28, 1988

Get Into It by Big Daddy Kane
The Big Beat by Billy Squier
Ease On Down The Road by Charlie Smalls (Ft. Diana Ross & Michael Jackson)
Blind Alley by The Emotions"

SHOWCASE VIDEO Big Daddy Kane - Aint No Half Steppin

ass3678, Uploaded on Jul 26, 2009

From the "Long Live The Kane" album.


Pancocojams Editor:
I've numbered these lines as a means of referring to them in the Definition Of Certain Terms section below.

(written by Marley Marl & Big Daddy Kane)

1) Aw Yea, I'm with this
2) I'm just gonna sit here laid back to this nice mellow beat, you know
3) And drop some smooth lyrics
4) Cause it's '88
5) Time to set it straight, know what I'm saying?
6) And ain't no half stepping
7) Word, I'm ready:

[Verse 1]
8) Rappers stepping to me, they want to get some
9) But I'm the Kane, so yo, you know the outcome
10) Another victory
11) They can't get with me
12) So pick a BC date cause you're history
14) I'm the authentic poet to get lyrical
15) For you to beat me, it's gonna take a miracle
16) And, stepping to me, yo that's the wrong move
17) So what you on, Hobbs, dope or dog food?
18) Competition I just devour
19) Like a pit bull against a Chihuahua
20) Cause when it comes to being dope, hot damn
21) I got it good, now let me tell you who I am
22) The B-I-G D-A-double D-Y K-A-N-E
23) Dramatic, Asiatic, not like many
34) I'm different, so don't compare me to another
25) Cause they can't hang, word to the mother
26) At least not with the principal in this pedigree
27) So when I roll on you rappers, you better be
28) Ready to die because you're petty
29) You're just a butter knife, I'm a machete
30) That's made by Ginsu, wait until when you
31) Try to front, so I can chop into
32) Your body, just because you try to be basing
34) Friday the 13th, I'mma play Jason
35) No type of joke, gag, game, puzzle or riddle
36) The name is Big Daddy, yes Big not little
37) So define it
38) Here's your walking papers, sign it
39) And take a walk
40) As the Kane start to talk, cause

41) Ain't no half-steppin'
42) I'm the Big Daddy Kane

[Verse 2]
43) My rhymes are so dope and
44) The rappers be hoping
45) To sound like me, so soon I'll have to open
46) A school of emceeing, for those who want to be in
47) My field in court
48) Then again on second thought
49) To have emcees coming out sounding so similar
50) It's quite confusing for you to remember
51) The originator, and boy do I hate a
52) Perpetrator, but I'm much greater
53) The best oh yes I guess suggest the rest should fess
54) Don't mess or test your highness
55) Unless you just address with best finesse
56) And bless the paragraph I manifest
57) Rap prime minister, some say sinister
58) Non-stopping the groove, until when it's the
59) Climax, and I max, relax and chill
60) Have a break from a take of me acting ill
61) Brain cells are lit, ideas start to hit
62) Next the formation of words that fit
63) At the table I sit, making it legit
64) And when my pen hits the paper, ahh sh&t!*
65) I stop and stand strong over emcees
66) And devour with the power of Hercules
67) Or Samson, but I go further the length
68) Cause you could scalp my Cameo and I'll still have strength
69) And no, that's not a myth, and if you try to riff
70) Or get with, the man with the given gift of gab
71) Your vocab, I'll only ignore
72) Be sleeping on your rhymes till I start to snore
75) You can't awake me, or even make me
76) Fear you, son, cause you can't do me none
77) So, think about it if you're trying to go
78) When you want to step to me, I think you should know there


[Verse 3]
77) I appear right here and scare and dare
78) A mere musketeer that would dare to compare
79) Put him in the rear, back there where he can't see clear
80) Get a beer, idea or near stare, yeah
81) So on to be want to be competition
82) Trying to step to me--must be on a mission
83) Up on the stage is where I'mma get you at
84) You think I'm losing?
85) Psst, picture that


[Verse 4]
86) The name is Big Daddy, you know, as in your father
87) So when you hear a def rhyme, believe that I'm the author
88) I grab the mic and make emcees evaporate
89) The party people say 'Damn, that rapper's great'
90) The creator conductor of poetry
91) Et cetera, et cetera, it ain't easy being me
92) I speak clearly so you can understand
93) Put words together like Letter Man
94) Now that's dictation, proceeding to my innovation
95) Not like the other MC's that are an imitation
96) Or an animation, a cartoon to me
97) But when I'm finished, I'm sure that you are soon to see
98) Reality, my secret technique
99) Because I always speak with mentality
100) I put my title in your face, dare you to base
101) And if you try and come get it, yo I'mma show you who's with it
102) So if you know like I know, instead of messing around
103) Play like Roy Rogers and slooow doown
104) Just give yourself a break, or someone else will take
105) Your title, namely me, cause I'm homicidal
106) That means murder, cause I'm about to hurt a-
107) Nother MC, that try to get with me
108) I'll just break him and bake him and rake him
109) And take him and mold him and make him
110) Hold up the peace sign
111) As Salaam Alaikum!

*This word is fully spelled out in these lyrics.

These numbers correspond to the order that the word, phrase, or saying (with that meaning) appear in this Hip Hop track.

1. "I'm with this" - I got this (I'm very confident about what I'm saying and/or doing.)
3. "drop lyrics" - rap; ("Spit bars" is a later [?] equivalent term for "drop lyrics".)
6. "ain't no half steppin" - in the context of this song, Big Daddy Kane is saying that he isn't going to to "half step" when it comes to being a MC (rapper) i.e. He's not going to be a "sucker MC"*.

"Half steppin' = to fail to do something the right way, fully and completely; to fail to give something your all (all your commitment and energy).

"Half steppin[g] refers to the way you do something, and not the way that you step (move).

Two contemporary African American Vernacular English (AAVE) that are the opposite of "half steppin(g) are to do something "to the max" and to "go all out". Both of these idioms mean to do something thoroughly and to the best of your ability.

Another contemporary AAVE antonym (opposite) for "half stepping" is to be "on point" (to do something exactly as it is meant to be done).
Here are some urban definitions for "half step", "half steppin(g)", as well as an urban dictionary. com definition for "half-assed"- the latter being a term that is often given as an equivalent for "half-steppin":

"half step
1. to start something with no intention of finishing.

2. to talk like you are going to get violent with someone and not follow through.

see that guy over there, he doesn't half step...he'll kick your ass"
by f&&koffanddie* March 27, 2005
This “name” is fully spelled out in this entry.
I believe that the first definition given in this entry is a closer fit for the use of "half steppin" in Big Daddy Kane's track.

(v) doing somthing half assed
yesterday i was so hung over i was half-steppin'.
by taylor March 15, 2005

Doing an activity only partly, or without one's whole self involved; doing something without caring, or without putting anything into it.

I do my homework half-assed because I don't like the course.
by KaBookie August 28, 2003
* Here's some information about the meaning of the term "sucker MC"
"Sucker M.C.'s" (also known as "Krush-Groove 1" or "Sucker M.C.'s (Krush-Groove 1)" and sometimes spelled as "Sucker MCs", "Sucker MC's" or "Sucker M.C.s") is a song by American hip hop group Run–D.M.C. It was first released in 1983 on a cassette as B-side to "It's like That". The two-sided release marked the start of Run-D.M.C.'s career as their first single.

An MC or M.C. is an abbreviation for Master of Ceremonies, a reference to rappers who controlled the microphones. Sucker is a derogatory street term for someone who believes he has skills, but who does not. It is derived from the common slang term sucker, relating to one who is gullible."...

7. "Word" - an affirmative phrase that was widely used among certain African Americans, and later, by non-African Americans in the 1980s and 1990s. "Word" meant "Yeah. I agree [with what you just said]. Two other forms of this affirmative saying that had the same meaning were "Word up" and "Word to the mother".
Read the information below for #25 "Word to the mother".

8. "Rappers steppin to me" = Rappers (MCs) coming up to me (in a confrontational manner)
9. "yo" = This usage may be the equivalent of the interjection "Hey".
11. " They can't get with me" = They can bother me.
12. "a BC date" = BC= before Christ, referring to a date from long long ago
17. "Hobbs" - I think this is a generic referent for "man", "dude"; It's not the same character as Hobbs in the contemporary movie series The Fast And The Furious which began in 2001.
17. "dope" = in this line means "illegal drugs"
20. "dope" = in this line means "very good"
23. "Asiatic" = Moorish Science Temple of America referent for Black Americans
"Prophet Noble Drew Ali taught the people termed ''Negroes'' in the United States are ''Asiatic'' and specifically that they are Moorish whose forefathers inhabited Northwest and Southwest Africa before they were enslaved in North America."

25. "cause they can't hang" = They can't keep up with me (in terms of actions and/or accomplishments)
25. "word to the mother" - an affirmative phrase used in the 1980s, 1990s that was an extension of the affirmative phrase "Word". "Word up" was another form of this affirmative saying.

Although "mother" in this saying may have been "mother Africa", I don't think that most people who used that saying got that "deep" into its meaning. Instead, I believe that "Word To The Mother" was used the same way and had the same meaning as the contemporary phrases "I know I'm right" and/or "You got that right".

However, here's an online comment about the phrase "word to the mother" and the corrupted [perhaps folk etymology] form of that phrase "word to your mother"]

"Word to your mother"
"An anachronistic corruption of the phrase "word to the mother", which was a popular reference to Africa or "The Motherland" during the late 1980s Afrocentric movement. While the replacement of "the" with "your" effectively obliterated the term's Afrocentric roots, it continued to be used in the same manner, that is, to express agreement. Alternatively, the "your" could take on sinister connotations, implying that speaker was sexually intimate with the listener's mother, as in "say hi to your mom for me", or, in keeping with the whack terminology, "props to your mom, she's da bomb". Finally, the phrase might mean nothing at all, and be used to ineptly feign street cred, in the style of Vanilla Ice.
Jeff - "Given the uncertainty of today's market, I'm strongly considering increasing my portfolio's share of treasury bills."

Greg - "Word to your mother."

#word#word to your moms#mutha#mother#word up
by bluedevil July 20, 2006

27. "when I roll on you rappers" = when I confront you; when I challenge you
31. "front" = pretend to be something you're not [in the context of this track, pretend to be a real MC]
32/33. "basing" = [in the context of this track] trying to act stupid like [?]
Here's an urban entry that might fit this usage:

A crackhead, also someone who does stupid things
1: hey have you seen that aaron kid? hes pretty basin
2: what'd he do?
3: he ran naked down the street!

by Anon1865 October 31, 2011

33. "Friday the 13th/Jason; a very popular American horror movie/movie series that began in 1980; "Jason" is the main character who stalks and kills other people in those movies.
38. "walking papers" = papers notifying people that they have been fired from their employment; by extension, a saying that means that you are being giving notice that a relationship is ending (you are being "let go")
39. "take a walk" = [a command to] leave
43. "so dope" = so very good
46./.49 "emceeing"; "emcee" = "MC"; rapping; rapping
47. "my field in court" = in my league; as good as me ["court" here refers to a "basketball court"]
52. "perpetrator"= [in the context of this track], someone who pretends to be an MC, someone who pretends to be "down with" [a part of] Hip Hop culture
53. "fess"= confess
60. "ill" = great, excellent (the same highly complementary vernacular meaning as "sick")
68. "you can scalp my Cameo" = in the context of this track, "Cameo" means "hair".
Read this excerpt from a comment exchange from that embedded video's discussion thread which explains that use of "Cameo" to mean "a high top fade", a particular type of hair style in the 1980s [and 1990s?] which was mostly worn by [Black American] males

2002Socal, 2016
"that high top fade tho... east coast katz was rockin them joints back in the day."

TheEdub1, 2016
"Hell yeah we was rockin the high top fades all day. But really it comes from the dude from the group Cameo."

TheEdub1, 2016
"+MISSDD Kane wasn't first it was Larry Blackmon of Cameo. The high top fade used to be called Cameo cut because of him. Kane even says in this song "You can cut my Cameo and I'll still have strength"."

87. "def" rhyme = in the context of this track, a very good rhyme
93. "Letter Man" = my guess is that "Letter Man" refers to "The Adventures of Letterman was an animated skit that was a regular feature on the 1971–1977 PBS television series The Electric Company.
Created by Mike Thaler, this super hero spoof debuted during The Electric Company's second season, and quickly became one of the show's most popular segments. There were 60 Letterman segments produced from 1972 to 1976."

95. "dare you to base"= act stupid [?] [Read #33 above]
103. "Play like Roy Rogers" and slooow doown" = "Roy Rogers (born Leonard Franklin Slye, November 5, 1911 – July 6, 1998) was an American singer and actor who was one of the most popular Western stars of his era. Known as the "King of the Cowboys", he appeared in over 100 films and numerous radio and television episodes of The Roy Rogers Show".

I vaguely recall watching the "Roy Rogers" show on television, but don't remember if he was known for saying "Go slow".

110) Hold up the peace sign- from ✌️ Victory Hand
"Most commonly known as a ✌️ Peace Sign, but traditionally called as a Victory Hand. Two fingers held up on one hand making a V sign."

111) "As Salaam Alaikum!" - Arabic greeting and farewell saying [English translation: "Peace be unto you".

Click for a pancocojams post about how this Arabic greeting/farewell was used by Muslim and non-Muslim African Americans in the 1980s and 1990s and was later changed to "Peace" and "Peace out".

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. Here's another urban entry for the term "half step"
    "half step
    Just aggreeing. The word appears in an A Tribe Called Quest song on the album "The Low End Theory."

    "I never half stepped because I'm not a half stepper.

    by Julian April 07, 2005
    The Tribe Called Quest track that is mentioned in this comment is
    "Buggin' out" [1991]

    1. "Half stepping" isn’t the same as “slow walking” although slow walking could be one way that a person is half stepping.

      "slow walk
      To slow walk is to perform a task slowly on purpose so as to drag out the time taken, usually in order to delay what the subject believes will occur next.

      "Quit slow walking me!" - Quote from the TV show "Prison Break" (a prison guard instructing the prisoners to hurry up with their work, the prisoners were delaying as they used work-time as a cover for their escape)".

      Whilst a child might "drag his heels" when eating his dinner because he doesnt like it; an adult might be said to "slow walk".

      Whilst workers might be said to be on a "go slow", that might be more of an organised event involving more than one person. Slow walking would more typically be one person slow walking another rather than an institution.
      #slow walking#drag your heels#go slow#pick up the pace#hastily"
      by Savalkan May 27, 2008

    2. Here's a comment exchange from the discussion thread for Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half Steppin" track that is showcased in this pancocojams post:

      Naomi King, 2016
      "Love this joint! I miss good rap music! Ain't no half steppin"

      kashio modashio, 2016
      "only full stepping 100"*

      Bahasa guna cakap, 2016
      "Trapers now a days are only 1/4 not even half step"

      Naomi King, 2016
      "Yeah I love this joint he kilt it and yes his bars is on point lol""
      *The term "full stepping" wasn't and isn't actually used.

      "Trapers" is used as a derogatory referent for wannabe rappers (This may be a contemporary term for "sucker Mcs" which I don't think is used anymore.)

      The number "100" in that comment means "100%".

      In the context of Hip Hop music, "joint" means "track"/"song" and "bars" mean lyrics/rhymes. "Kilt" (killed; also given as "murdered") means did something exceptionally well.

      "On point" means "tight", everything performed exactly the way they should.