What’s Beef? LL Cool J vs. Canibus

At the time of this beef, LL Cool J was a power house. Considered one of the greats and heavy hitters of Hip Hop. He is still to this day. LL could battle with the best of them, and had no problems giving up and coming artist exposure. So, what’s beef?

LL had a track, “4,3,2,1” off of his album ‘Phenomenon,’ in which Canibus was to be featured. Canibus wrote a line for the track, “…L is that a mic on your arm? Let me borrow that…” and LL took it as Canibus dissing him and wanted him to change the lyrics. LL wrote a response to the lines that he felt were a diss towards him, in the same song that featured Canibus. Canibus agreed to change his lines, because he was under the impression that LL would do the same.

Well, not only did LL release the song with Canibus’ new lines, he did not change his own. LL hit Canibus with “…the symbol on my arm is off limits to challengers, you hold the rusty swords. I swing the Excalibur….how dare you step up in my dimension, your little ass should be somewhere crying on detention….” LL also released a video for “4,3,2,1” and left Canibus out.

It wasn’t til a few months later that the footage Canibus shot for the video to ‘4,3,2,1’ was added. The original verison of that song was also later released with Canibus’ unchanged verse. And so the feud began. It all seems so trivial to me. A few bars of a song were taken out of context, and things got out of control. However, it made for great entertainment.

Canibus countered on the release of his debut album Can-I-Bus that was released in ’98. With that came the track, ‘Second Round K.O’ aimed at LL Cool J. Every jab that Canibus threw at the rapper did not quite connect, and it didn’t result in LL being knocked out. Canibus wanted to discredit the rappers image and fame, and his debut single was a good try.

Canibus addressed the shots LL took at him, stating, “…you studied my lines, then laid ya rhymes after mine. That’s a bitch move, something a homo rapper would do…” then continued on to say, “…You walk around showing off your body because it sells. Plus to avoid the fact that you ain’t got skills. Mad at me because I kick that shit real niggas feel. While 99% of your fans wear high heels…”

He also stated; “Before you wanted a war, now you wanna talk. It’s about who strikes the hardest not who strikes first. That’s why I laugh when I hear that wack ass verse. That shit was the worse, rhyme I ever heard in my life…”

Canibus went on an attack of LL’s credibility as an MC, his sexual orientation, and all around called LL fake. He claimed that LL knew that he wasn’t as good as him, and claimed that LL had forgotten what a hardcore artist was.

Now of course LL couldn’t just stay quite. He had to protect his name and his image. It seems to me like Canibus forgot that LL got his claim to fame with his rap battles. His fan base may have shifted over the years, but LL had to put in work to get the fame and recognition he received. If there’s one thing he’s not going to do, is back down from a fight.

In ’99 LL released ‘The Ripper Strikes Back,’ taking shots at Canibus for his attempt at a diss record, and if you ask me, LL knocked him out. I bet his momma told him to do it too. LL Cool J proved that he deserved to have that mic on his arm, and on his arm it would stay. LL accused Canibus of trying to be everything that he was. In the first verse he hit him with, “Don’t hate me because I’m paid. Hate me because I’m everything you want to be: handsome, young, plus legendary…”
Not only did LL’ accuse Canibus of trying to be like him, he accused him of being gay, having no fans, and promised to destroy his career. He hit him with;

“Mad rapper, but now you turned mad actor. Forty-nine pounds and tryin to be a monster / Run around town with the Bob Marley imposters / Ask Canibus, he ain’t understandin this / Cause ninety-nine percent of his fans, don’t exist…”
According to LL Canibus didn’t know who to test and who not to, and made it his personal mission to teach him. He stated, “…Never that, nigga my size is unlimited / Yours is prohibited, of course that’s contributed / To not knowin ya limits and who you need to test…” and “…No more rhymin, you on a lyric fast diet / Call the paramedic and tell them that he pathetic / His lyrics ain’t energetic you’re sweet as a diabetic / Career be over next year, yeah I said it…”

It was just an all-out attack of his character, sexual orientation, physical size, lyrical ability, and fan base. LL Cool J had him with The Ripper Strikes back. I love the beat, him shouting Can I Bus. I took it as him taking shots at Canibus’ album Can-I-Bus, acknowledging his own lyrical ability, and busting all over Canibus’ track. LL said himself that he had made a soft track like a bitch would and it made his dick hard. LL Cool J destroyed Canibus with this track. His name wasn’t really heard of after The Ripper Strikes back was released.

A lot of the people I have discussed the beef with were unaware that Canibus recorded a response to LL. He couldn’t stay quiet and released ‘Rip the Jacker,’ his second diss track. Canibus came hard with this track, and showed just how raw he could be. He once again attacked LL’s credibility as an artist, his sexual orientation, and even brought his mother in the fight. Canibus was mad, and he wanted to show LL just how tough he was.

I loved how he used the beat for LL’s track, ‘I’m Bad’ which featured on his LL Cool J’s second album, ‘Bigger and Deffer. Canibus came out of the gate swinging stating; “I had to rock to a beat like this to show you / That I’m iller then the future, the present, and the old you / I told you, wish you could take it all back don’t you / Tried to smoke some canibus but canibus smoked you…”

Canibus was mad and wanted to make it very sure that LL and the world knew that he was better than him. Canibus also hit him with;

“…you should change your muthafuckin’ name from G.O.A.T. to G.L.O.A.T / The Greatest Liar Of All Time that cannot rhyme / That cannot shine as long as I’m alive / Your prime ended 8 months before ’99 / And that microphone on your arm will always be mine…”

Canibus knocked LL out with this track. This is what he should have released the first time around. Canibus proved that he was a good artist, no matter what his size. Although he is small, his bark is very loud.
LL came back and countered once again, he released a diss record, ‘Back Where I Belong. It featured J Rule and once again, touched on his lack of fame, and at the time his latest album ‘2000 B.C.’ Compared to ‘The Ripper Strikes back, ‘Back Where I Belong’ was a letdown, but it was still a good track. LL started out with stating how he was hip hop. He stated, “…been gone a long time, had a lot of shit on my mind / I decided I don’t want to reach my goal if it means losing my shine / Streets is Hip-hop and I’m Hip-Hop, so the streets is Mine / Ballin’ as long as you been livin’, that’s a long time…”
LL also took credit for destroying Canibus’ career. Stating;

“…Ya A&R promotion niggas, they helped me hook it up / I hate to be responsible, for destroying your career / A one-hit wonder, huh / No Wonder you disappeared, I coulda told the world / You get your lyrics from the internet…”

LL definitely won this beef and got a body, one bag. LL destroyed not only the credibility Canibus had as an MC in the eyes of main stream rap; he destroyed his career as well. Just as he said he would. After his release of ‘The Ripper Strikes Back,’ his career just wasn’t the same. Canibus’ career could have been so much more. He was gaining so much momentum and was a hip hop world wind at the time, so gritty, raw, and street. His name went back to a whisper, when it should have been so much louder than that. Canibus was made an example of for any other up and coming MC’s who wanted to test this Hip Hop pioneer.

2nd Round K.O – Canibus

The Ripper Strikes Bakc – LL Cool J

Rip The Jacker – Canibus

Back Where I Belong – LL Cool J