When the industry blackballs an artist, it’s incredibly hard for that artist to reclaim the place that they once were. Ma$e? Laughable. Public Enemy? Sorely missed. Ice Cube? Forget about it. Hammer? Proper. These rhyming heroes (and zeroes), were each at the top of their game at one point. Each of them owned a piece of hip-hop, dominating the charts and sales of hip-hop music at some point in their lives. Then, something happened.
Everyone who has fallen off has his or her own version of the story, (which is usually blamed on “the label”) but from the outsider’s perspective, falling off usually is a result of some event that struck them down during the height of their fame and glory. Whether seen or unseen, these events end up tainting the artist’s sound, or simply suck the dope juice right out of them. At this point, these artists either over extend their welcome, by forcing the public to listen to the awful records they create, or simply fall off the face of the earth, maybe attempting a comeback every few years. Whatever the case may be, for every artist - even Jay-Z and Eminem - there will be a moment when the public decides that they don’t like them anymore.
Enter Canibus - once the hottest lyricist around. The hungry up & comer who could do no wrong. A young rapper with a tongue of fire, who shared studios with Nas, Redman, Method Man, Common, Pharaohe Monch, Rakim, Wyclef Jean, and countless others, and stole the show every time. Until that fateful day came when LL Cool J felt that Canibus dissed him on “4,3,2,1″, with the lines we never heard: “Yo Red, where’s the Squad at / Meth where’s the gods at / L, is that mic on your arm? / Let me borrow that”.
To make a long story short, Canibus changed his verse, LL didn’t change his, and used it to dis the young rapper, in which Canibus replied to L’s disses with “Second Round Knockout”, a Wyclef produced slaying of the rapper / actor. But where Canibus prevailed lyrically, the industry sided with LL. With an album that received less than stellar reviews, shortly thereafter, the industry backlash came. Critics shat on Canibus debut album Can I Bus, and by the time he dropped its slept-on, and improved follow-up, 2000 B.C., nobody would give it the props it truly deserved.
Adding everything up, it seems Canibus has reached that point. He’s been blackballed, and it’s unfortunate, because we all seen what an incredible emcee he is. But the events that led up to these moments have shook Canibus, and his potential career, and in turn have produced C True Hollywood Stories, an album that will be as misunderstood as his first.
While the LL Cool J fiasco seemed like a valid enough reason for Canibus to make a dis record about him, Canibus’ latest ploys seem instead more like a childish rants to get attention and create controversy. Throughout the entire album, best evidenced on “U Didn’t Care”, Canibus has chosen a new target, Eminem. Working as a follow-up to “Stan”, Canibus’ version of the story is interesting enough creatively, despite its whiney hook. Unfortunately, while Canibus (as “Stan”) takes a few pot shots at Eminem, ironically, he ends up looking like the Stan that Eminem was talking about – an annoying fan that won’t leave him alone.
These types of disses are subliminal throughout the entire album, and it’s still fun to hear Canibus rip through invisible opponents with breathless rhymes on “The Rip Off” or “Boxcutter Bladerunner”. Even subliminal disses to Jay-Z and The Roc on “I Got A Story To Tell” are mad entertaining, however unwarranted. Even the humorous “Ya Teef Is Yellow”, or both “Love U 2″ / “Hate U 2 ” (is Bono a target too?) are amusing, however intentionally absurd they may be.
But the main problem with Canibus’ latest though, aren’t the unreasonable disses, but instead the album’s haphazard structure. At one moment, we have Canibus asking “Let Me Hear Something Else”, but listeners will be asking the same question during some of the album’s more terrible moments. Awfully produced tracks like the bouncy anti-crack anthem “Stop Smokin’” (is this still an issue in 2001?), the unlistenable “Different Vibe In L.A.”, the Macarena inspired, “Get That Doe”, or Canibus playing the Latin lover on “Hot Tonight”, are each embarrassments to his fans.
Still, he’s one of the greatest lyricists around, but his third album deep, it’s safe to say that he doesn’t know how to make songs, and he desperately needs better beats. Canibus shines the brightest when delivering high-octane battle raps, as he did throughout his last album, and more recently on his white label “Rip The Jacker” dis on LL Cool J, (which is not included here). Maybe the best course of action is for Canibus to go back to the drawing board, and somehow reinvent himself, that is, if the public will even allow that at this point.
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