Remember Canibus? Well he’s back.

Sort of.

The original Canibus (dude who created a sizeable buzz based on his gritty, hyper-intellectual rhyme schemes only to trash his own career by challenging LL Cool J) is gone. Now a brand new Canibus is here, with a disc called Hip Hop For Sale.

I first heard of Canibus in 1997 when my college roommate told me that I had to hear this new MC with the “rawest rhymes ever”. He burned me a disc with some mixtape rhymes from a Jamaican born kid that were pretty decent. Then I saw his cameo with Wyclef Jean and Destiny’s Child on the Gone Till November Remix.

His biggest guest appearance came on 4, 3, 2, 1 which featured Redman, DMX, and Method Man. Next thing I know dude is on doing interviews talking about how nice he is, and how nobody’s got nothing for him, especially LL Cool J. And that’s where his career took off. His 2nd Round K.O. took some notable shots at Mr. Smith, prompting many media sources to put the emerging beef on the front page, literally blasting Canibus’ career into the forefront of hip hop news:

“So I’ma let the world know the truth, you don’t want me to shine
You studied my rhyme, then you laid your vocals after mine…
You walk around showin’ off your body cause it sells
plus to avoid the fact that you ain’t got skills
mad at me cause I kick that shit real niggas feel
while 99 percent of your fans wear high heels..”

Eventually, LL would respond, with crushing force on “The Ripper Strikes Back”.

“Where you at? Smokin’ in some one-room flat/
Suckin’ on Clef’s dick hopin’ to come back…”

The hype was at its peak. Canibus then dropped his first major label release, Can-I-Bus (Universal) to less-than-stellar reviews. Then he disappeared. Two years later he surfaced with his Universal follow-up 2000 B.C. which was even worse. No one is sure what happened to him after that. Three independent albums and one regrettable battle with Eminem later, and now, he’s back. Again.

(Yawn).

“Hip-Hop For Sale” is 11 tracks of misguided energy. Canibus basically tries to resurrect his career by re-inventing himself. Gone are the once potent, searing rhymes that made you think. Now, he’s on some “holier-than-thou” pedestal as if going commercial is a sin. In fact, most of the album made me feel like I was at church, with Pastor Canibus preaching to me about how much he’s been through, how messed up hip hop is, and how he’s back to set things straight. All as he passes the offering plate.

None of the production is hot (kids spell out C-A-N-I-B-U-S in the hook on It’s No Other Than). His timing and delivery are still on point; his rhymes are not. I’ll spare you the details, but one quote from Hip-Hop Body Rock will suffice: Dude said:

“I been gone for a while, but I’m still in style.”

Wow.

I listened to the album a few times, desperately searching for something positive to say about Hip Hop For Sale. But the second time through was worse than the first. Tracks like Dear Academy and So Into You made it tough. Not only is the concept played, the rhymes mediocre, and the production boring; but Canibus insists on saying things like:

They talk to magazines, they talk to MTV
They up on 106 on BET talkin to Free.
-Punch Lines

(I’m not making this stuff up.)

Somehow, Canibus has maintained a cult-like following of fans that swear that he’s the best rapper in the universe (my old roommate included). They’ll probably buy his Hip Hop For Sale. I didn’t.