Canibus: 2000 B.C.

Canibus' hotly anticipated debut, 1998's underrated Can-I-Bus, was the victim of a largely undeserved backlash that had little to do with its quality and much to do with the hype and controversy surrounding it. But even if the public and media have gone from red-hot to lukewarm on the LL-baiting lyrical prodigy, Canibus isn't about to go gently into that good night, using his second album as a platform to rip into critics, colleagues, and doubters with a blast of inspired lyrical aggression. Perhaps the greatest battle-rapper in the world, Canibus' greatest asset is his boundless imagination. Whereas most battle-rappers limit themselves to familiar subjects—their own greatness, their foes' myriad flaws—Canibus takes battle-rapping to bizarre and unpredictable places, rapping about gnomes, penmanship, and space aliens alongside ample examination of his lyrical superiority. Rapping with such intensity that it's easy to envision cartoon puffs of smoke emanating from his ears, Canibus sounds focused throughout 2000 B.C., like a forgotten lyrical street-fighter eager to reclaim his crown. The production is disappointingly uneven, however, and with the exception of Ras Kass and Rakim, most of Canibus' guests (Killah Priest, Kurupt, unpromising newcomer Journalist) simply can't hold their own. The lack of song structure is also problematic, but Canibus invests his rhymes with such dark humor, vivid imagery, and controlled passion that his lack of thematic ambition is forgivable. Although released with minimal hype or fanfare, 2000 B.C. is a fine follow-up from one of hip-hop's most entertaining iconoclasts.

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