In my humble opinion I believe that Canibus is the greatest “pure lyricist” of all time. Let me clarify, I’m not saying he’s the best rapper of all time his G.O.A.T. status comes strictly from his ability to put words together. Anyway, I was having a talk with a friend of mine the other day about Canibus and the question posed was why didn’t he ever blow up. What happened?? How could someone with all that talent never see mainstream success. As always a hip hop convo led to another post here at FlipNBirds……I present to you 5 reasons Canibus never blew up.
1. He was too far over people heads
You almost have to be a scholar to know what Canibus is talking about from song to song. Dude just put so much intelligence and history into his music. More so than any other artists that I can think of. But in order to enjoy Canibus you have to be willing to listen to an artists rap about things and subjects that you probably know little to nothing about. You have to enjoy hearing someone use words that you’ve never heard. For example, Master Thesis is a lyrical master piece, beautifully executed and downright phenomenal. But the masses just don’t seem to get it. Canibus never took the bait and dumbed down his music. Instead he stayed true to his roots and made songs like Buckingham Palace and Master Thesis. Maybe this admirable stance that he took as an artist contributed to his downfall
2. He got involved in beefs with the wrong people
Tupac famously stated “Get your money right before you go to war”. Canibus failed to observe this law in his beefs with LL Cool Jay and Eminem. Canibus actually murdered LL Cool Jay. 2nd Round Knockout is one of the greatest diss songs of all time. But LL had the publicity and masses behind him so he came out on top. I think to this day Canibus may be the only artist ever to make a way better diss song during beef and still lose in the public eye. It’s almost the equivalent of all of hip hop not paying attention to Nas “Ether” during his beef with Jay. Or even after that people still feeling Jay won the battle just because he was more popular at the time. 2nd Round Knockout is no Ether but it’s in the same league. On top of that a beef with Eminem set him back as well. I think had Canibus had a working relationship with these two, especially Eminem, his career may have turned out very differently. I could see Canibus having been a major force to be reckoned with on a label like Shady. But ultimately, Canibus went to war too early in his career, what he perceived to be a diss from LL Cool Jay really didn’t warrant a 4 minute preemptive attack, though I enjoyed listening to it.
3. His Delivery was the same on every Song
Though I believe Canibus was a better pure lyricist than Eminem, Em mastered his delivery. Em utilized innovative rhyme patterns, syllables and pockets in his music. Eminem constantly developed his delivery, this is one area where Canibus never grew. Canibus always had dope rhymes but he never attempted to try to say them in any new way. It was the same basic pocket every song.
4. He lacked Star Power or an Interesting Life Story
Canibus never seemed like an intriguing person. He never seemed to have that charisma or back story that made you want to know more about him. Star Power isn’t something that can be taught and Canibus lacked that.
5. He focused all his energy towards Hip Hop Heads
I think he put all his eggs in 1 basket when it came to his marketing. Canibus focused almost exclusively to hip hop heads which is cool for an underground buzz. But in order for him to cross over to mainstream success he ultimately would have had to drop that single or something that could add the ladies to his fan base. Not to say he needed to sell out or anything but he needed that one cross over record.
All in all Canibus is one of my favorite rappers of all time. I began feeling kinda bad doing this post because I felt almost like I’m dissing a legend and just focusing on things he did wrong. But know Canibus is a beast but in the music game even if you have the skill it still takes a perfect storm to blow up.