Social media has its merits, sure, but it often threatens to derail lifelong relationships with artists. Instead of a legendary emcee and one of the greatest producers in hip hop history, fans may just as likely refer to these two artists as controversial NFT salesman and anti-vax conspiracy theorist. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Potentially, but you can’t argue both reputations haven’t taken a dent from their social media activity. If this was 1998, a Canibus x Pete Rock EP would be Album of the Year material. Unfortunately, in 2022 it’s a curious combination of two greats past their best. The fact it’s a 7-track EP that’s actually just three songs means you’re disappointed before you’ve even pressed play. You’ve got two acapellas, two instrumentals, a remix of a song from a seven-year-old album, and two new Canibus songs with Pete Rock production.
Let’s start with the remix of 2015’s “Concourse P”, a track that features Pete Rock rapping and producing, along with a new verse from Bronze Nazareth.
This is far superior to the original, boasting a smooth, soulful production you rarely hear Canibus’ gravelly tones over. The rough/smooth combination works, but Pete Rock’s rapping has never been great. Bronze Nazareth himself may not be in the same league as Lord Finesse or Large Professor on the mic, but he’s infinitely more natural than Pete. Thankfully, the other two songs are Canibus solo joints: “Princibly This” has some killer horns with glimpses of Canibus’ schizophrenic personality constantly threatening to ruin the song. There are adlibs echoing through left and right channels to mimic the wild internal thoughts of ‘Bis, but the biggest sin that I thought Canibus had outgrown is the excessive punch-ins he uses. It completely ruins the flow of a verse, which is a shame as in the third verse you could hear him truly getting into his stride.
“Poet’s Palaquin” is a lesser Pete Rock production. It feels like it needed a more defined bass line, but given Canibus foregoes traditional song structure and just raps for three minutes, it’s clear the focus is on the rhymes. After multiple listens, I’m still unclear what he’s trying to convey as he drifts from painting vivid images of his Jesus-like status amongst rappers to his eloquent style of braggadocious bars, but then, that’s classic Canibus.
This EP is available on vinyl for $40 which is excessive given the content it includes. The music that is here is serviceable enough and Canibus fans will lap it up, but it’s terrible value for money. Canibus was an early supporter of the Internet; remember that 1998’s “Can-I-Bus” had a website (the sadly defunct www.canibus.com) and his 2002 “Mic-Club: The Curriculum” was one of the first times a rapper directly sold content to their fans (at www.micclub.net). His decision to move into NFTs means he has rebranded his website to caniNFT.com, another controversial moment in an already controversial career. Underground rap is a tough business to maintain a healthy income, but risky decisions are never far from Canibus. The name of this “C” EP alone sums up much of Canibus’ recent content: there’s simply not enough here to recommend.