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Canibus: 2000 B.C.

2000 B.C.
Label: Universal
Genre: Rap
File Under: The freshman sophomore MC
Rating: 71

    Reader Reviews
Canibus seems destined to be referred to in relation to older, more established MCs. He first came to mainstream attention when his cameo on LL Cool J's "4-3-2-1" was deleted over a perceived dis. A press- and wax-fueled war of words ensued, and Canibus attacked LL on his first single, "Second Round K.O." — conveniently just as his 1998 debut album, Can-I-Bus was about to drop. Now the 26-year-old rapper's beef is with his former mentor and producer, Wyclef Jean. On the title track of Canibus' sophomore effort, 2000 B.C. (the initials stand for "Before Canibus"), he spits out, "You mad at the last album?/I apologize for it/Yo, I can't call it/Motherf--king Wyclef spoiled it."

In contrast to Canibus' gold-certified debut, the new record includes a variety of producers and a minimum of sampling. To emphasize the point, a short, violent skit near the beginning skewers an unnamed producer who lies about the sampled sources of his beats. The only two samples that do appear make a strong impression: It's hard to deny the theme from S.W.A.T., which provides the bass line of the opening track, "The C-Quel," or the fluttering Killah Priest loop that the Beatnuts' Juju employs on "Life Liquid." From Ty Fyffe (Foxy Brown, Method Man) to Chaos (The Roots), the producers work subtle inventions on a theme, like the sassy, Rosie Perez-like vocal turn on "Phuk U." Not bad for a rapper who once told an interviewer, "The beat has always been minor to me." It makes sense that Canibus has developed a reputation as a lyrical duelist; he's not a storyteller or a message rapper, as he himself is the first to admit. His impressively relentless battle raps offer a barrage of metaphorical violence delivered with a vehement rat-a-tat-tat. The explicit descriptions of scraped ribcages, cannibalism, and decapitation are less disturbing, however, than the virulent anti-gay sentiment that recurs throughout the album, particularly in "Life Liquid" and "100 Bars." At least this battle MC practices his homophobia without much help; you can count the guest MCs on the fingers of one hand. Canibus teams with the revered Rakim on "I'll Buss 'Em, U Punish 'Em," and the pair's contrasting styles complement each other — the busting upstart forceful and breathless, the punishing veteran smooth as maple syrup. Later, Canibus borrows a hint of Wu-Tang's feudal mystique, previewing his new collaboration with Kurupt, Rass Kass, and Killah Priest, dubbed Four Horsemen (as in, of the Apocalypse). If 2000 B.C. is Canibus' attempt to rewrite his own musical history, erasing his missteps with LL Cool J and Wyclef, it'll be interesting to see who his next target will be. Jackie McCarthy

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