Original white boy
How a kid from East China Township paved the way for Eminem, ICP, Kid Rock, and more
Published: July 25, 2012
Danny "K"AE's album My God Reigns Supreme/God Don't Play is now available for download at iTunes and Amazon, with other albums to follow over the next several months.
On the evening of Sept. 8, 2007, Insane Clown Posse co-founder Violent J began his weekly online radio show W-FUCKOFF as scheduled. But America's most notorious wicked clown was in a strangely reverent mood, his gruff voice slightly lowered and speaking in a somber cadence that clearly indicated this wasn't going to be the usual discussion about Faygo and the Posse's Joker Card album series. He had something — or someone — important to talk about. And this is what he said — invented words and all:
"From the beginning of my career, from the first fucking day I ever decided I wanted to rhyme, I had to fucking ... I had to lay out everything before me and realize who the master, who the greatest was and I will never be that. I had to lay everything before me and realize who the greatest of all time is and I had to realize on the day I decided to do this that I would never be this man. And his greatness will never be reduplicated. And he's still around. And he's alive. And he's a living legendary hero. And his name is Danny 'K'AE."
Yes, his name is Danny "K"AE and you've probably never heard of him. But to a generation of Detroit rappers who came out of the hip-hop underground in the late '80s and early '90s, the name Danny "K"AE is spoken with a mixture of reverence and laughter — reverence for the fact that this mysterious kid from East China Township was the first white rapper to make any noise back in the day, and laughter because his unorthodox (and, some say, whack) rhyming style brought them so much joy.
Detroit arguably boasts more big-name white rappers than any other region of the country, and all of them — from Kid Rock to Eminem — cite Danny "K" AE as a key influence upon their music careers. Yet today, he is a largely forgotten figure. Detroit music retailers haven't even stocked Danny "K"AE albums in many years, at least not since Harmony House closed. But ask old school Detroit rappers about Danny "K"AE and their faces will light up as if they've just remembered a long-lost high school classmate. They'll likely smile and talk wistfully about listening to Danny "K"AE way back when and bumping his classic cuts like "Yo Bummin'," "Calling #1 DJ" and perhaps Danny's most notorious track, "After School Snack Attack" — a particular favorite of Eminem's according to his former associate Mannix.
But in all-too-typical rock 'n' roll fashion, Danny "K"AE has remained in the shadows, even as his hip-hop disciples have gone on to reap fame and fortune. Yet, after years of being praised by people who have appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, Danny "K"AE just might have finally landed the fabled big break. On July 24, Canorous Records, which is distributed by Sony-owned Universal Records, began releasing the entire Danny "K"AE catalog to iTunes, Amazon and other online music retailers, bringing his monotone rhymes about Jesus, Miracle Whip sandwich spread, Mary J. Blige and Detroit radio legend the Electrifying Mojo to the entire world. According to Canorous Records Vice President and Detroit rapper Champtown, "Danny "K"AE is the original Michigan Caucasian rapper and it's time he got his due." The wide release of the Danny "K"AE discography marks the next chapter in one of the great untold Detroit music stories — and one of the strangest tales in hip-hop history.
Back in the day with the "K"AE
Tracking down Danny "K"AE can be a daunting, frustrating task, and not just because he lives 5,000 miles away. For one thing, there's the confusion about his name. In the first part of his career, he was known as Danny "K," but then around 1996, he legally changed his named to Danny "K"AE, which is an acronym for "K. Always Excelling" (more on that later). Entering "Danny K" into the Google search bar will bring up links to sports bars, design firms, some South African singer, and a British DJ who goes by the name the Legendary Danny K. Entering "Danny KAE" gets you a bit closer, but you still have to dig to track down the elusive rapper. There's a phone number for a "Danny Kae" in Anchorage, Alaska — and once upon a time, that was indeed his listing — but it's been long disconnected and calling it now takes you to a fax line. There's no Danny "K"AE Facebook page, no Twitter account, no website. But there is a LinkedIn account and a still-active MySpace page. Go figure.
Danny's bare-bones MySpace page contains a brief bio, his homemade logo for his music company, Kold Def Music, and a few slightly blurry pictures, including one of Danny's bony, skull-cap-wearing frame, arms crossed in a classic hip-hop warrior stance. His equally stripped down LinkedIn profile lists his occupation as 'Rap-Artist/Actor' (Danny claims to have appeared as an extra in a few movies shot in Alaska, including the Drew Barrymore vehicle Big Miracle), and LinkedIn is the main way to contact Danny these days. You can also contact him on eBay, where you can sometimes find his four CDs listed on an auction by the man himself. For about $60, you can purchase the entire Danny "K"AE catalog, consisting of the 1987 old school Detroit classic Destined for Hip Hop, the double-length The Definitely Def E.P./Messages from the Mastermind, and the Christian-themed Righteous Rhymes of Life and God Don't Play/My God Reigns Supreme.
> Email Jason Webber