Needless to say, the name Canibus represents many different things in the hip-hop world. Circa 1997, he was 'the next big thing', but a high profile beef, and a self-described 'blackballing' by the rap industry left a broken, failed emcee, not to mention one disturbed individual who released arguably the worst album in rap history with C: True Hollywood Stories. Granted, Bis rebounded nicely with the underrated Mic Club album, but his career was still in tatters. Then Babygrande Records came along. Someone at that label needs to get a gold star pinned to his shirt for convincing the folks in charge to take a gamble on Canibus. Let's run down the list of Canibus albums, shall we? 1998's Can-i-bus had some gems, but everyone pretty much agreed that the Canibus and Wyclef combination really didn't work. Next up was 2000 B.C., which, in my opinion, was one of the better battle rap albums in recent memory, and was unfairly shit on by a highly picky rap community. The negative response to 2000 B.C. led Bis to make a complete 180 degree turn in terms of style and content. On C: True Hollywood Stories, Canibus began using an even worse selection of beats and began employing the use of long winded, poor-sounding hooks. This resulted in an album that was simply godawful. Not enough battle tracks, too many useless hooks, were the cries echoed through the rap world. Mic Club had Canibus totally abandoning the concept of the hook, and spitting merciless battle raps over mediocre beats. The only problem with this album, besides the lacklustre production, was that the battle raps got extremely boring, almost to the point that you had trouble differentiating between songs, they all sounded that similar content-wise. Babygrande was determined to put it all together. They sought out an A-list underground producer, Stoupe of Jedi Mind Tricks, and in the process the two men have truly created a masterpiece.
Let's set things straight right away, the Canibus on Rip the Jacker is pretty much the same Canibus from Mic Club. However, there are two major differences that I can see in the two. Number one, obviously the beats. I don't think there is an emcee in the world that would sound bad over a Stoupe beat, he is that ill. Number two, the content isn't as cut and dry as in the past. Canibus actually manages to switch it up here and there on this album. For instance, on 'Genabis', Canibus uses his first verse to describe the 7 days of creation when he put together the 6 main aspects of his mc style. The seventh day was a day of rest, remember? A truly original concept, and Bis shines all the way through the rest of the track. On 'No Return', Stoupe somehow meshes an almost Bob Marley-sounding type beat and Canibus' battle lyrics for a surprisingly head-nodding result with Bis dropping three eye-popping verses, each one a different account of his death. Stoupe's use of beats that are vastly different to each other likely means he is searching for ways to keep this LP fresh sounding, as Canibus' repetitive lyrics don't accomplish that job very well. This can be seen on the 7 minute plus opus, 'Poet Laureate II', which has Canibus ripping apart 3 beats, with Stoupe mixing them up seamlessly at points in the track. Canibus adapting his flow to each individual beat is something that needs to be heard to be believed. Stoupe has a unique style, and every single one of his beats on this album is solid. His sample use is also outstanding, somewhat Primo-like. I don't think I am the only one anxiously awaiting the new Jedi Mind Tricks, and Stoupe will undoubtedly see his popularity rise with Canibus fans, and the love is much deserved. Anyone doubting the dopeness of Stoupe right now needs to check out 'Cemantics', where Bis rips a ridiculously hot Stoupe beat to absolute shreds. Just sit back and listen, this track is that good.
I'll give praise to Canibus on this one. With the help of Stoupe, he has finally delivered the album that everyone has been expecting of him. Hot beats, a great combination of razor-sharp battle lyrics and some dope storytelling make this album a frontrunner for album of the year, at least in my books. After buying C: True Hollywood Stories, I told myself, 'never again will I buy another Canibus album', but this album is convincing enough, head to your local store to pick this one up, this album is a winner. Canibus and Stoupe have crafted a fantastic album, and a positive showing record-sale wise will only result in more projects like this, and hip-hop right now could use the help.