Over my years of listening to hip-hop there have been certain moments where a particular artist or group has literally made me pay attention to what they were doing! Right out of the gate their lyrics, style and swagger were just so captivating that you had to take notice. Perfect examples of this would be artists like Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G, Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem, and of course the Mic Ripper himself Canibus! Even though Canibus started his career rapping in a duo called The Heralds of Extreme Medaphors (T.H.E.M) back in 1995, it wasn't until late 1996 that I actually heard him rhyme. I still remember the first time I heard Canibus rip a freestyle on a DJ Clue mixtape back in the 1996! I remained speechless as I hit the rewind button about 10 times straight trying to comprehend all of the wordplay that Canibus was spitting. His confident/complex delivery remained on point while he edutained the listeners with his street knowledge. It was difficult not to become an immediate Canibus fan after hearing one of his freestyles. The dude was just that good! Seems like after that I started seeing Canibus popping up everywhere. Outside of plenty more mixtape freestyles Canibus was featured on tracks with several hot artists of that time like The Lost Boyz, Common, Ras Kass, Heltah-Skeltah and LL Cool J. Actually, the verse that Canibus spit on that Lost Boyz "Beast From The East" track is still one of my favorite Canibus moments to this day! In 1997, Canibus definitely had the hip-hop world buzzing and fiending for an album. Ironically, Fugees member Wyclef Jean took Canibus under his wings with hopes of turning this freestyle sensation into an profit making album seller. Personally, I wasn't too happy about Wyclef working with Canibus. Not that I didn't like Wyclef as an artist, but I thought his softer-accoustic hip-hop style wouldn't really work for an artist like Canibus. Even though I had plenty of doubts, I tried to remain optimistic?
Everything was coasting along pretty good for Canibus, then all of sudden I get wind of a beef between him and LL Cool J after he dropped verses on the "4,3,2,1" track. I won't bother rehashing this old beef between the two emcees, but if you have no DJ Clue about what happened just Google it! I will say that I thought Canibus held his own with the odds against him. Soon after the beef with LL began, Canibus dropped his highly anticipated debut album "Can-I-Bus" in 1998. As a Canibus fan I was happy it finally came out, but I was a little disappointed with the end product. I selfishly wanted more of the freestyle mixtape version of Canibus, but I ended up with the watered down Wyclef version instead. To save face after his mediocre release, Canibus quickly blamed Wyclef for his misguided debut effort in the media. He promised that his next effort would be the album that Canibus fans were waiting for? Finally, in 2000 Canibus dropped his second album entitled "2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus)" in hopes of redeeming himself with his fans. I personally thought that the 2000 joint was a little better than his debut, but there was still something missing? It seemed like the months of negative criticizm had gotten the best of him. The addictive and effortless Canibus rhyme flow that we had come to know and love was forcefully replaced with rhymatic words of desperation in hopes of proving himself. It was not difficult to tell that something had definitely changed about the God emcee?
Would Canibus ever make the album that would properly highlight his verbal skills and take his career to the next level? Well, it's 2007 now and with 10 albums under his belt I can confidently say that the honest answer is NO! The blame for the Canibus demise over the years has been everything from weak production to lack of promotion. Even though many true hip-hop fans hold Canibus close to their hearts when it comes to appreciating the unrivaled talent he possesses, some of us have decided to stop hoping for a resurrection. It's difficult for true fans to continue hearing the unworthy and almost embarrassing musical efforts that Canibus has released over his 10 year career. I have intentionally ignored his last 2 or 3 albums to keep my memories intact of what he once was, but curiosity got the best of me recently. I reluctantly listened to his latest release "To Whom The Beat Tolls" just to make sure nothing had changed since the last time I heard a Canibus album. Overall, it was just decent at best. Honestly, I can't fully say that I haven't become a little bitter at the whole Canibus movement over the years? So, with that being said I would suggest that you give this album a personal listen if you get the opportunity, and judge this project for yourself.
Okay, I know Canibus has had plenty of low moments throughout his career, but he's also had plenty of high moments as well. His early freestyle days were his best in my opinion, so today I have linked you to some of his best freestyle moments ever! The kind folks over at Canibus-Central have posted approximately 50 freestyle/featured moments from Canibus for your listening pleasure! After listening to these I think it will be easy to understand why he was considered one of the best that ever did it.
Checkout these links:
Listen to Canibus Legendary Freestyles
The Canibus Myspace page
LL Cool J feat. Method Man, Redman, Canibus, DMX & Master Pee - 4,3,2,1