I wanted to get amped over this album. I really did.
I remembered his guest spots, spots like the blazing "Beasts from the East" and his famous verse from "4,3,2,1", the verse that set off the now waaaaay overhyped and done to death publicity over the "beef" with LL (and if you don't think that was planned somehow....) I slipped the headphones on, hoping that he could fulfill at least some of the expectations laid at his feet, expectations that a pure lyricist had somehow made it into the big time and would drop an accordingly fat album.
He didn't. Not even close.
The first hint was the intro. Now everyone knows Canibus is some kind of internet head, studied computers at the community college he went to for a hot minute, but he casts himself as Super-Hacker, and he just don't give a fuck. Movie music, a scared homie in awe in the background, and Canibus acting hard while hacking into file after government file. You sense he wants it taken seriously, as if he could do it.
Like we fuckin give a shit. Get off the keyboard and grab a fuckin mic, man.
So he does. The first real track, "Patriots," got a lovely head noddin martial beat, sorta reminiscent of "Beasts From The East" and Canibus starts roarin over the track, nothin phenomenal, but nothin shitty, neither. I was noddin my head, lettin the shit get in me. After a heart stopping scare where Pras grabs the mic (He doesn't rap....Thank God) female emcee Pri gets on and proceeds to tear the frame out of the track, with lines like "Specimen with extraterrestrial estrogen/Kick your intestines in, sell your testicles to mexicans." Ouch. And unfortunately for this album, she kicks the best verse, by far. You get an idea why she won the recent "Blaze Battle" sponsored by that mag. As Mike Tyson would say, not good for "The Canibus Man".
"Get Retarded," which made a little noise on the streets,(I can't figure out why) has Canibus spit boring rhymes over a beat which keeps switching from one blah groove to another. Following this lethargic cut up is "Niggonometry" which rides a nice familiar funk sample and an always nice to have scratched chorus. The concept is sort of like "What?" by Tribe, but flipped mathematically. If anything, it sounds like those joke leaflets you'd catch in school with word problems like, "If Johnny pimped 30 hoes in two weeks, with each ho...." You get the picture. He doesn't quite pull it off, but you get the general idea. One of the few tracks I didn't skip past after a minute and a half. It's decent, but I'm still sitting on my fat ass waiting for the good shit.
Then comes Canibus' crowning (so far) achievement, Second Round KO. After all his tantrum throwing in the press about "Quit asking me about LL!!" I was kinda surprised to see it. He has Mike Tyson slobbering all over the mic for an extra minute before the song even starts, for whatever reason. I'm tired of it. Finger hits the little arrow on the player pointing forward. "What's Goin On" hits my ears, Canibus' attempt at a story rhyme. At least he doesn't use the obvious Marvin Gaye sample. He gets detailed, relaying visuals of dead bodies and buckshot, but you don't get the idea he gives a shit what he's rhyming about. A story about wanting non-violence in the clubs, (but it's okay to have your manager stick a gun in a reporter's face though, right?) it drags on over a tired beat. Next.
"I Honor You" is ass, straight up. Enter the R&B bitches on the hook. Canibus plays the role of sperm in this song, a role Beavis played more effectively in "Beavis and Butthead Do America." Canibus brags about his superiority over his dad's other stupid sperm. Wow, you were a bad muthafucka as sperm, man, too bad you still weigh about the same. "Hype-nitis" has more of the bullshit crooning, and tired rhymes I've heard all throughout this album. "How We Roll," which should have stayed a B-side, as far as I'm concerned, comes on to break the monotony. Doesn't work.
But the next track starts with a diatribe about Harry Truman's secret deal with aliens. WHAT THE FUCK??? "Channel Zero," is his song aimed to expose and teach the masses. His teaching tools? A bunch of half ass conspiracy theories, a beat Dr.Dre would have made strung out on LSD after being up for 3 days straight, and the wackest chorus I've heard in a long time. But that beat doesn't compare to the Casio throwaway known as "Let's Ride," the shittiest excuse for a beat I've heard come from anyone affiliated with the refugee camp. "If you listen to my lyrics every day for a coupla weeks/My techniques will eventually kill you just like red meat" I know if I was forced to listen to this peice of shit 3 days straight, I might wanna murder people, too. "Buckingham Palace" is nondescript and forgettable, which leads to "Rip Rock," the overall worst cut on the album. The music grinds and screeches with nowhere in particular to go, really, and "There's a Place In France," is not a good melody for a hook anymore. It may have worked for Another Bad Creation in 1990, but I expect a little more from Canibus, and once again he disappoints, with arguably the worst lyrics I've ever heard fall out of his mouth.
And that's the most fucked up part of it. You heard Canibus' name about 2 months ago, you thought of a hungry, ruthless emcee, who'd rip your throat out and get hundreds to laugh at the sight of it. He was about the lyrics, we thought. But it's easy to tell he fucked around and got caught up in his own bullshit. The album is a contradictory mess. He has non-violence messages, but Wyclef pulling a gun on the Blaze editor, Canibus crushing interviewers tapes, his constant pouting and aggresion towards anyone foolish enough to ask him about his "battle" with LL exposes how bullshit the words in his songs are. He whines about being taken seriously as an mc, whines to people to get off the LL thing; But for his album sleeve, he has a picture of himself obviously pushing his bicep up, (We all know your about a buck ten, soaking wet in a parka, come off it) showing off his own microphone tattoo with "4,3,2,1" on the fingers gripping the mic, which looks fuckin terrible, by the way. But what's inexcusable is that he abandoned what he does best, rockin the ferocious lyrics he used to spit like fire at unsuspecting emcees, and replaced them with tired story rhymes and convoluted lessons on life. It's as if he's embarrassed to be known as a battle rapper. What's wrong with that? Sure, it's a one note performance, but if he can play that one note better than all the other herbs out there, then he shouldn't waste his time and ours by switching up to a style he can't rock. He should stop rapping warmed over bullshit on top of slow, lethargic beats and play that one fucking note. At the worst, kids wouldn't have gotten bored with him as quickly as they will after hearing this album.
I hung the headphones up, tired. I never thought a Canibus album would have me shaking my head instead of nodding it. I'm sick of his ass already, and it's only his first album. Don't pick it up, but if you can, dub off two or three joints from a friend unlucky enough to waste dough on it.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: September 1998