Being a Canibus fan, it has become tougher and tougher to acknowledge the fact that the rhyme animal has grown out of fierce punchlines and ridiculous wordplay and has matured in a completely different way many of us had hoped initially. It is unfair for us as fans to think that an artist can’t try different things, but then again there is a reason why we became fans in the first place. Canibus was an emcee that captivated us with his head on battle tactics and we honestly felt that there was no man that could defeat him in a battle (this critic still thinks LL got his ass handed to him). But the truth is that it’s almost been a decade since that Canibus roamed the earth and now the emcee has opted to branch out and try different things. His albums have suffered the wrath of critics and fans alike since his maturity and it has become even more apparent that Bis didn’t give a fuck what we thought anymore and will continue to do him. With that comes his latest offering titled Hip Hop For Sale. The question with this album isn’t “Will Canibus remind us why we loved him” anymore, but it simply becomes “Is this a dope album.”
Unfortunately it’s hard to grade an artist’s present work without pitting it up against his previous work. And before you even crack open the packaging, you know that this is a completely different Bis than from years before. The cover showing Bis with a roll of Benjamins and an iced out watch inside of a Rolls Royce may have people running to push the “faux jiggy” escape button, but fortunately the album isn’t full of spinning rim references or money talk.
Hip Hop For Sale is yet another venture from Bis as he tries to make his way back into the hip hop scene. With five out of eleven tracks produced by Nottz, the album looks somewhat promising from the outset (jiggy cover aside). Songs such as “Dear Academy” prove that Canibus does have what it takes to be dope. The song finds Bis reminiscing about his time at the top as he recognizes some of the folks he came up with. With an award show setting, it is interesting how Bis observes the 5+ years of his career without sounding too jaded or upset about how things have turned out. “Da Facelift” is another moment that shows that Bis can be a serious part of hip hop. Over a solid Blackmilc offering, Bis resurrects the Canibus from several years back and easily makes this the album’s highlight.
But that’s the problem with the album, with “Da Facelift” easily being the album’s highlight, the rest of the album teeters between average and below average. Songs such as the sappy “So Into You” just don’t vibe right with Canibus’ grimy voice over a smoothed out girly joint. His hooks are still a problem as joints like “I Gotcha” come up somewhat corny. Even though on paper Nottz looks like he could provide Bis with the right production, the beat selection on the album is a tad sub par. Nothing on the album really does Bis any justice as most of the beats are just bland and boring.
Coming to grips with this version of Canibus may be hard for many of us fans to do. It’s hard to say that one of your favorite artists just isn’t the same anymore, especially when each time out your hopes are let down. If you rate this album against his other albums it comes up way short of 2000 BC, Rip the Jacker and Mic Club, but much better than C True Hollywood stories and Mind Control. But, if rating it up against the rest of the industry, it just isn’t making the cut. Who knows if Bis has anything left in the tank? We, as fans, will always cling to that thread of hope no matter how minute it has become.
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