August 31, 2009

Canibus - 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) (July 18, 2000)

Oh man, you are not going to like this one.

Can-I-Bus was the first album from battle rapper Canibus, born Germaine Williams. Universal Records, the label unfortunate enough to believe that they could actually market a guy who was best known, at this point, for killer freestyles, enough guest spots to put fellow cameo kings DMX and Busta Rhymes to shame, and a pointless feud with LL Cool J that really only served to reaffirm the confidence and swagger in Cool James, eventually made a little bit of money off of the album, but it was a hard-fought battle: both critics and fans alike trashed the project immensely, chastising both the bland production (the majority of which was provided by Wyclef Jean and his team) and the never-changing subject matter (Canibus essentially focused on two things: why he was a better rapper than you or anybody else on the planet, and why LL Cool J could suck his dick). Whenever he did deviate, such as when he wrote a song about his mother, nobody seemed to care, especially not myself, as I eventually called Can-I-Bus a Drink Coaster and went along my merry way.

And I don't regret that shit one bit. Well, except for the fact that I actually paid money for both Can-I-Bus and the follow-up, 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus).

Naturally, Germaine only paid attention to the portion of the criticism that didn't directly address him by name, and created an album that was intended to erase the memory of Can-I-Bus from the minds of hip hop purists. Its very title indicates that this was, ostensibly, the album that Canibus wanted to make before he ran away with the Wyclef Jean carnival (read: before he hooked up with someone who was actually making money at the time). He sought for new beats through other channels, set up some high-profile guest spots (Can-I-Bus, in contrast, only really featured Refugee Camp members and fucking Mike Tyson), and sought to prove his detractors wrong: he wanted to shout from the rooftops that the only reason that his debut album sucked was because of poor career guidance.

Sure, that was the only reason.

2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) ended up being a commercial bomb, with naysayers providing almost the exact same feedback, except this time around, all of the blame fell on the shoulders of Germaine. Universal Records, who was sick of the bullshit at this point, promptly dropped him, and Canibus was left to wallow in underground label purgatory, which, in hindsight, probably would have been a better outfit for him at the beginning of the day, as his freestyles tend to fly off the handle without any respect for the restrictions that an actual song structure dictates.

Some of you two may have already guessed what my take on this album is going to be. You also may be wondering why I bought 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) if I hated the previous disc so much. The answer: I didn't hate Can-I-Bus when I bought it, I just believe that it doesn't hold up in the least today, and I was one of those hip hop dorks who truly believed that Canibus might have actually done a better job with different production. However, I'll spare you the suspense and tell you right now that your instincts are probably dead on in this case. So, read on if you dare. Those with high blood pressure should take your medication prior to continuing, though.

After an intro that's bound to give you a migraine (older Canibus rhymes are played in several different channels, forcing you to listen to them all at once), Canibus starts spitting to a boring beat. I found it funny that he brags about rhyming for four minutes with no break, and then a few bars later, he takes a fucking break. Have to admit, though his two verses teeter on the edge of word vomit, this sounds much more upbeat than anything on Can-I-Bus, so at least he's trying to live up to his word.

2. 2000 B.C. (BEFORE CAN-I-BUS)
Germaine uses this song to claim that “motherfucking Wyclef” spoiled his first album. Um, yeah, Clef's production left a lot to be desired, but you're just assuming that your lyrics were perfectly written and performed? Ras Kass you're not: you have to accept the responsibility that you were equally at fault. This was entirely uninteresting, and I'm almost convinced that he quotes Rakim lyrics in his chorus simply because Rakim appears later on the album.

I remember when Journalist (a pretty cool rap name, by the way) was being touted as the next big thing in hip hop: his name populated rap forums on a regular basis in the early part of the new millennium, and hell, he has two guest appearances on 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus). His contribution is okay, I suppose, although I can't remember anything about it. Canibus clearly outshines his guest (I never said Germaine was devoid of skills), but it ultimately doesn't matter, as they both are performing over the most plain Juju (from The Beatnuts) instrumental I've ever heard.

This was just stupid. Clearly Canibus has unresolved issues with Wyclef, but the thing is, I don't give a damn.

Advice that Canibus should have lived by himself, because truthfully, how has his career advanced after beefing with LL Cool J and Eminem? Has Canibus ever even really won a rap battle? Anyway, this track was entirely forgettable: I don't even remember what I was supposed to be writing about.

The soundtrack for MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch (anybody remember that show?) featured a version of this very song (albeit in a censored form), but with a different beat (provided by somebody named Michael “Punch” Harper), one which I remember sounding much better than the Clue and Duro piffle we get on here. (That soundtrack also features Kool Keith's "Bow To The Master”, Last Emperor's “Secret Wars (Prince Paul Remix)”, and Eminem's “My Fault (Pizza Mix)”; yep, it was a weird compilation, thanks for asking.) Hence, Rakim's reference to a “celebrity match of death”, in case you were confused. Lyrically, I liked this song, but the instrumental was for shit. Shouldn't a collaboration of this magnitude sound more majestic or something?

I thought the beat was alright, and Canibus sounded okay (besides his contrived hook), but just like there are some actors who will never carry a film on their shoulders, some rappers should only strive to be the best rapper on a posse cut. A little bit of Germaine goes a long way, at least at this point in his career.

Ty Fyffe's beat is fucking boring. This actually sounds like the kind of shit I tried to actively avoid on Can-I-Bus. This song features the other appearance by Journalist, who quickly disappeared from the game after this album was released, I think. Then again, I don't care enough to double check.


10. LOST @ “C”
Other than a couple of breaks, Canibus spits nonstop over the beat, which sounds like it's one or two elements shy of sounding like an actual hip hop instrumental. He comes off pretty well (save for the hook), but I haven't yet figured out the significance of the title.

11. PHUK U
Canibus and Punch Harper, ostensibly brought in after the “I'll Buss 'Em U Punish 'Em” fiasco, jack a sound bite from a skit off of Eminem's The Slim Shady LP (specifically “Zoe”, the interlude featuring Henry Winkler's daughter) and builds a song around it. Allegedly, Germaine extended an invite to Marshall to contribute to this, and Em declined, which probably was one of many factors contributing to their beef. Listen to the third verse on here and tell me that Germaine's feelings weren't more than a little hurt after that dismissal.

This was interesting. Pharoahe Monch handles this interlude by himself, introducing the next song with an acapella verse. I have to give Canibus credit for ceding this track to one of his hip hop elders. He doesn't disappear entirely, of course: Germaine helps with some chanting at the end of the track.

The Four Horsemen, or HRSMN (as they are sometimes referred to), are the original Slaughterhouse: four solo artists who haven't quite achieved their potential and were all ultimately fired by their respective labels (Germaine's pink slip arrived after 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) dropped). They all linked up essentially because there is power in numbers, and lyrically, all four of these rappers were impressive in their own way. This song was originally released as a track called “Abide By”, a sort-of freestyle which they rocked over the beat to “Hip Hop Drunkies”, a song by Tha Alkaholiks. Kurupt (whose presence in the crew I can only barely comprehend, as he is outshined every single time: however, he's no Joe Budden, as he knows when to keep his mouth fucking shut) and Killah Priest fail to impress, putting undue pressure on Rassy and Canibus (whose verse is censored), who both knock it out of the park. The Chaos beat doesn't quite match up with Tha Liks, but it's still alright.

14. 100 BARS
To be fair, a song featuring Canibus just straight spitting, not hindered with the general music convention that requires him to break up the monotony with a chorus, is exactly what his fans wanted to hear from him anyway. Most record labels aren't willing to experiment, though, hence the high number of hooks on this album. (Hell, there's even a sort-of chorus on “Horsementality”, for fuck's sake.) I don't care enough to count the bars to determine if he lives up to the title's boast, but some of his rhymes are truly entertaining. The problem I have is with his final line, where he claims that he's going to “drink a whole bottle of Henny and go fuck a lesbian”. Um, how do you plan on doing that, Germaine? With your vagina? Are you going to throw a lot of words at her, in the hopes that she'll be confused enough to drop her panties? Yeah, that'll work.

Canibus starts off acapella, almost as if he's trying to defy the critics who trashed the production on Can-I-Bus by not including any musical accompaniment. The beat, conveniently provided by Chaos (who has also worked with The Roots), isn't bad when it eventually kicks in, but at this point, we'll all just be glad that this album is over.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) is awfully wack. Canibus may be under the impression that Can-I-Bus was critically panned because of Wyclef's influence, but the reality is that Germaine needs to take responsibility for his failures and admit that he still doesn't quite know how to craft an album. His verses ramble on for much longer than they have any right to, which is fine in a freestyle or a battle cypher, but when you're writing an actual song, especially when you're recording for a major fucking label, that shit doesn't fly. Canibus has never blown me away as a lyricist, but the kid can be really nice with his, I will admit. His ear for beats needs to be checked by an audiologist, although he's probably under the impression that the beats shouldn't matter for him to get his point across, thereby irking music producers the world over by dismissing their contributions to the culture entirely. So, yeah, 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) isn't any better than Can-I-Bus. Discuss amongst yourselves below.

BUY OR BURN? Burn this if you must. Canibus molds his anger at the first album's public reaction into some palpable rhymes, but note that I wrote some. You can easily just get the songs listed below and walk away happy.

BEST TRACKS: “Horsemen”; “Horsementality” (you should listen to them both in order to get the intended effect)


Canibus – Can-I-Bus (Drink Coaster)


  1. come on max stop thinkin this is Can I Bus, this shit is buy, the beats here fucking knock, you need to cut the guy some slack, every true bis fan who didnt like his first album accepted this one as his improvement, gosh man you seriously need to clean your ears because this shit is better than his first album

  2. meh, in my opinion this album is great. my 3rd favorite after curriculum 101 and rip the jacker.

  3. canibus is easily one of the wackest rappers i've ever heard

    but put a stoupe instrumental underneath his corny ass forced lyrics and hilarious voice and he sounds a liiiiittle bit better

    but come on, we all know nobody listens to jmt to hear vinnie paz. does anybody even LIKE that guy?

  4. Heh, this is getting scary now.
    I had a feeling you'd do a Canibus album within the next few days, and here we are.

    Sometimes I feel sorry for the guy. But yeah, this album wasn't much better than the first disaster.

  5. max whatever hatred you have for canibus, you need to stop it now, its obvious that you dont care about the guy or any of his work, the beats here are a much improvement and lyrically bis stays on point, max leave canibus' work if you hate his albums so much because of that lame excuse of not having "great beats"

  6. Can-I-Bus this review?

  7. protoman your weird first u say canbius is wack then you say max is wrong by calling this wack??? anyway max sure this aint a good bis album but its better than can i bus, but im glad u still have faith in the guy,IMO Mic Club and Rip the Jacker are two of canibus' best albums, better beats and better lyrics, and protoman, Vinnie's been dope on the mic since 96 so you might be the only who thinks vinnie is wack, btw did u wrote those 2 comments here yourself because you my friend your weird today

  8. Hey Max,

    I tried to sent a review of an album to your E-Mail but it didnt work... any ideas?

  9. shitty review, go buy the album people, its dope

  10. the real protoman bringin the ruckus to all you muthaphukkisAugust 31, 2009

    oh shit, look at my clone

  11. Watch Who U Beef Wit was fire...
    you just hate the guy for nothing, this album is actualy good.

    BTW when we gonna see some Lord Finesse shit?

  12. Max is on Jigga's dick too hard to feel real hip hop like this. He recommended Kingdom Come of all albums. He probably cries about having to shit on Blueprint 2. He wants to fuck the Camel.

  13. for once agree with max , this album is shit , go cop first family 4 life

  14. this is just max opinion people, he doesnt like this album, thats totally fine, not everybody has to like the same shit, IMO this album is great and better than Can I Bus

  15. I like Canibus as a lyricist, Max does not seem to appreciate his skills.

    But, after all is said and done, Max is right: "His ear for beats needs to be checked by an audiologist."

  16. Protoman is a fucking faggot and he knows it. Canibus is one of the illest to do it, and this album is straight up dope. And for the fucking record, there's more JMT fans then you think, you fucking faggot. And yes motherfucker we do "listen" to Vinnie Paz, who the fuck taught this faggot about hip hop anyway? Fuck me sideways, dumbest motherfucker ever.

  17. Fuck Internet reviewers this album is dope and fuck the people that are brainwashed by this reviewer

  18. AnonymousJuly 06, 2010

    EAD Peace

  19. when i bought this back when it dropped, that first track with the overlaid verses made me want to throw the thing out the damn window. i wish i had

  20. Dope album , Whack review . peace

  21. 2000BC is one of dopest cd's you'll find, lyricism is crazy and made up for some of the beats (beats were cool though), no excuses for that battle, think dude just caved, but because of the freestyles from 97-2000, camoes and this album, always considered dude a must cop, but man, that battle was like watching a man commit suicide.

  22. If you listen to "Always Be My Sunshine" by Jay-Z, the little skit with the voicemail is where the "Phuk U" sound bite comes from.