Canibus :: 'C' True Hollywood Stories
Label: Street Level Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
The name Canibus should already be familiar to hip-hop fans
worldwide. Indeed, this very artist has already been
interviewed on this website. In his career he's made a plethora of cameo appearances
which earned him a reputation as a fierce lyricist, from the Lost
Boyz to Wyclef Jean to an infamous duet with LL Cool J which
ultimately resulted in a blood feud between them culminating with
the hip-hop classic "Second Round K.O." featuring Mike Tyson.
Four years and two albums later, Canibus faced a career that was
stalled on a steep incline and picking up speed as it sled
backwards. Although his last album "2000 B.C." was well respected
among underground rap fans, he and Universal Records agreed to a
parting of ways after poor record sales. He kept his domain name though
and cleverly used Canibus.com
to feature new unreleased singles on an MP3.com homepage. With
the free publicity and a legion of fans on and offline still
supporting him, the time was ripe for Canibus to sign a distribution
deal with a new label and put out a brand new album - "'C' True
The problem with this new album though is that it actually makes the
free songs on MP3.com sound like gems by comparison. Conceptually
the album had a chance - the idea of structuring an album around the
same format as the infamous E! Television network show is intriguing.
Unfortunately, Canibus uses this format to present himself as "Stan",
the infamous character from the Eminem song of the same name who
drowned himself after obsession with his favorite MC turned to
uncontrollable rage. Apparently Stan didn't drown, because he's back
to haunt Eminem some more on "U Didn't Care." Everything about this
song is wrong: a pathetic chorus, a mediocre beat, and hearing a
normally ill rapper trying to vocally imitate a white man who was
trying to imitate a disturbed white fan - the result is terrible.
The story picks up with Canibus rescuing Stan from the river and
taking him to the hospital to recover, and afterwards apparently
joining Canibus' crew as an ill rapper, "overseas with him gettin'
cheese with him" and "introducing me to people as his lyrical equal."
He's not though.
Well, actually, that's not quite true. Canibus as Canibus is nowhere
near as good as Canibus used to be - so if "Stan" is a wack white MC
than maybe they're more equivalent than appearances first indicate.
There are hints of the artist he used to be hidden throughout, but
they are unfortunately few and far between. He shows a few of those
gems on "The Rip Off" though:
"Yo, my brain races to create these lyrical mosaics like paintings
To me, record store and art galleries are merely the same thing
I feel like I'm Rembrandt, and my man Van Gogh is amazin
Canibus is not some average rap patron, have some patience
I went through changes, not bein with the majors and all"
Yes, Canibus went through some changes, and they're not all good.
Rhyming over video game style loops is popular in hip-hop these days,
but why would Canibus pick such a wack one to use on "Hate U 2"?
What's even more incredibly sad is that Canibus seems to think that
the song proves he's hot: "This record is proof that I've made it/
cause you're listening to it right now and it's on a independent label."
At times in the past, delusional grandeur served him well with lines
like "Canibus is lyrical equivalent of German engineering" but when
you listen to this track you'll be thinking more along the lines of
an Edsel or a Citroen BX.
Irony abounds throughout this album. Listening to the triple-cadence
rhymes of Canibus and some nasal-voiced chipmunk twat on "Stop Smokin"
makes you wish they'd ALL lay off the crack pipe. When you
skip past this track to reach "Lemme Hear Sumthin Else" you'll probably
be laughing your ass off realizing the bizarre humor of Canibus as a
pathetic MC reached even loonier heights. Some people have actually
suggested that this album was meant to be a parody of today's played
out hip-hop concepts and cliches, and as such the stupider Canibus'
album gets the more BRILLIANT it is in reverse. The problem
is that the one or two decent songs on the album blow the theory to
smithereens. "R U Lyrically Fit" features a really nice symphonic
loop, and the kind of raw hungry rhyming by 'Bis that made him an
underground rap favorite. "Box Cutter (Blade Runner)" starts out
nicely with a series of sound effects that put him on the run from
a music industry out to eat him alive, and the tension level in the
track as he rips as quick as he can will actually give you chills.
Ultimately the tragedy of "'C' True Hollywood Stories" is that it's
more like the show Canibus named it after than he ever intended. Many
of their "true stories" feature Hollywood actors whose charm and
brilliance gave them everything they ever wanted, which they foolishly
squandered in a downward spiral of self-destruction. Canibus sounds
like their musical equivalent - showing flashes of the greatness that
made him famous but drowning in a rive of bad ideas poorly executed
over lackluster beats. The few who bought this LP will conclude that
the truest story told herein is of a rapper who could've been as great
as Muhammad Ali and instead will become a footnote in hip-hop history.
I still believe Canibus is a great rapper, but if he continues on this
path there won't be anything left to write about OR make into
a television special.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10
Originally posted: January 22, 2002