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by
13 August, 2003@12:00 am
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 On “Levitibus” Canibus confidently asserts “hey you shouldn’t fall for the naivety/lyrically I’m the illest when my beats is OK.”  But now on his fifth LP, Rip The Jacker, finding “O.K. beats” to properly embellish his otherworldly theses continues to be Germaine Williams main Achilles heel.

While Bis has yet to find the essential synergy that marries beats with rhymes, or the sought-after chemistry with any particular producer (his most noteworthy results can be traced to Salaam “The Chameleon” Remi) this enigmatic emcee is simply too talented too discount.  And because of that, fans have impatiently copped a long squat and waited for someone to appear in the form of a cure-all; enter Jedi Mind Tricks’ resident beat-maestro Stoupe.  With Stoupe firmly entrenched, Rip The Jacker, is being billed as the LP all Canibus fans have waited for and their union, at least on paper, lends some credence to that claim.

Though Stoupe has displayed a niche for offering a diverse palette of sounds for Jus Allah and Vinnie Paz during his stint with Jedi Mind Tricks, his task on Rip The Jacker is a more daunting one, as he is being paired with an emcee whose lyrical output is virtually unparalleled (and whether or not he realizes it, Stoupe is also being unfairly entrusted with revitalizing Canibus’ stalling career).   And too Stoupe’s credit, he does implement an emotive element to Bis’ mechanical demeanor; whether it’s the plush backdrops and operatic chanting that’s implemented on both “Genabis” & “Levitibus,” or the middle-eastern scented “Spartibus” where Stoupe’s array of European strings subtly enhances Bis’ brainy vocals “the royal semen of Caesar frozen in a cyro freezer/on sale for seven-figures per milliliter/lethally illegal/I speak to the people in the form of an eagle/on top of the thieves cathedral.”

When Stoupe enwraps Bis’ intense battle rhymes with operatic strings and dramatic flourishes the results are breathtaking, as Bis weaves in and out of cymbal crashes and horn bursts with the precision of a European sports car on the frenetic “Cemantics” and is punctuated by the indelible (at least the first 180 seconds, before the bridge spirals into mediocrity) “Poet Laureate II”, where Bis throws the “100 Bars” format out the window and delivers a 7 minute lyrical exercise (can you say 200 bars) over Stoupe’s fluctuating synthesized strings.  However, when Stoupe instills a soft beat change during the bridge it strips the track of its immediacy, until snapping back into shape at the six-minute mark for one final blitzkrieg “I’m convinced now that more then the truth is at stake/when people create language that pretends to communicate/euphemisms are misunderstood as mistakes/but it’s a byproduct of the ghetto music we make/from an extroverted point of view I think its too late/Hiphop has never been the same since 88.”

Though ambitious, Stoupe’s deviation from the script (keep it rough, rugged and raw) results in a few style clashes, as the sped-up vocal samples on “Indisible” and the reggae flavored “No Return” are experiments gone array.  Further, the shuffling beat shifts on “M-Sea-Cresy” are disconcerting and the more festive Spanglish vibe of “Showtime At The Gallows” makes you wonder if Canibus’ lyrics were even listened too when formulating the backing acoustics?  And while these wrinkles are a detriment here, it’s hard to really knock Stoupe, as his beats generate a steady head nod and would have probably worked with any emcee not named Canibus. 

There is no disputing that when it comes to pure lyrical output, Canibus has earned his rightful spot among hip-hop’s elite.  Yet, there is a difference between emcee (means move the crowd) and lyricist and Bis certainly falls into the latter category, as he continues to treat each studio session as his own private sparring session and he has yet to really grasp the finer nuances of songwriting.  On “Levitibus” Canibus proclaims “even my worst album was sublime.”  While Rip The Jacker finds a comfortable medium between 2000. B.C. and Mic Club, it does make you wonder if Bis has heard C True Hollywood Stories?  

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