During his prime, Canibus was regarded as one of the elite lyricists in all of rap. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, after moving to the U.S., he caught his big break following a cipher with members of the Wu-Tang Clan in Buffalo, New York, but split shortly after, leaving Canibus a solo artist and also one of the hottest up-and-comers in rap. A barrage of guest appearances on records with the likes of Lost Boyz, LL Cool J ("4, 3, 2, 1") and others raised his stock to a fever pitch, culminating in a battle with Uncle L himself.
His scathing salvo, "Second Round K.O.," may have stamped itself as one of the most impressive diss songs in rap, but his debut album, Can-I-Bus, garnered disappointing sales and was considered a flop, sending the rapper into relative obscurity.
His subsequent releases, 2000 B.C. and C! True Hollywood Stories also fell on deaf ears, but it was his fourth album, Mic Club: The Curriculum, which put him back in good graces with the critics and fans who originally championed the rapper. Doing the unpredictable and joining the United States Army in 2003, Canibus recorded a batch of songs that would ultimately be his fifth album, tiled Jack tha Ripper, which was released while the rapper was with the military and praised as his finest body of work to date.
After being discharged from the army, Canibus released his sixth studio album, Mind Control, on June 21, 2005. The collection featured a hogepodge of material recorded years prior and was maligned across the board. But contrary to dismal reviews, the album has aged quite well and seems to have gotten a bad rap.
With that in mind, we've handpicked the best five tracks from Canibus' often forgotten LP. What were your favorite songs from the album? Tell us in the comments below.
Mind Control opens with the Mark Sparks-produced track "33 3's." Inspired by Jay Z's Reasonable Doubt song "22 2's," Canibus takes the same approach, but decides to up the ante by delivering 33 bars while implementing the number three into every line. "On 3:33 on March 3 / It came to me like God's word / I started to load my 33 caliber Mauseburg / Went to the top of the Empire State on 33rd / 33 gunshots were heard / 33 pedestrians lay wounded and dead on the curb," he raps. Spinning a riveting crime tale, we're not sure if Hov's own sequel, "44 4's" was inspired by Canibus, but it's a theory interesting enough to be mentioned.
Untalented beatsmiths catch a few shots on the comical "Stupid Producers." Fed up with inept producers, 'Bus dedicates a cut to reenact a typical interaction in which he goes through hell and high water just to get some tracks. Featuring a chipmunk-voiced boardsman giving Canibus the run-around and his bars of frustration, the song is dope conceptually and executed flawlessly, making it an album highlight that avoids the stamp of a novelty record.
Canibus raps on the aggressive salvo, "Canibus Man," which cooks up a pulverizing track dominated by steady drum kicks, snares, and electric-guitar riffs. The rapper rips it to shreds - lyrically - with his relentless stream of quotables while coming at the neck of all possible contenders with an 100-bar challenge. Canibus gets especially vivid on the third verse. Overall, the song displays why he was considered an elite lyricist by many of his peers during his prime.
On "Mind Control," Canibus delivers introspective thoughts and storytelling instead of his usual intense delivery. Canibus opens by reflecting on his career thus far. "Been in this rap game since '96 / Can-I-Bus, also known as Canibus / And even though that might seem like a short time / I was never known to kick a short rhyme," he raps. He also details a cross-country flight to a California and his desire to start anew.
Canibus takes the gloves off on "Last Laugh," the standout track on Mind Control. Laying down some of the best couplets on the album, Canibus is in the zone on this song. "Why you think I went and put a f---ing mic on my arm? / 'Cause it belongs to me and I belong next to Ghengis Khan," he spits. Volleying bars over a sample-driven beat (courtesy of producer Mark Sparks), Canibus inflicts his verbal assault with the tried-and-true precision of an assassin.