Hip-Hop For Sale

Artist: CanibusTitle: Hip-Hop For SaleRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Forget the Keith Murray album, Canibus is the real enigma. Since going both independent and elusive, Canibus has offered fans a steady stream of albums with unique themes and producers. Mic Club, and Rip the Jacker, largely produced by Jedi Mind Trick’s Stoupe, found Canibus getting critical praises for his vicious deliveries. Not only did these releases awaken non-believers, but showed the MC in more personal light. However, after the disastrous Mind Control collection of shelved leftovers released earlier in the year, the momentum may’ve been lost. This time, Canibus is supported by Virginia’s Nottz on Hip-Hop For $ale (Babygrande) – is it worth buying?

Critics have accused Canibus of being too self-centered in his lyrics, and when not – obsessively devoted to a certain Queens legend. Pleasantly, this album proves that Canibus has stayed with Hip-Hop the last five years. “Dear Academy” is the most obvious moment – citing Canibus’ friends, influences, and a few stale beefs. It’s interesting to hear of the artist’s awareness of who’s forgotten him, and who hasn’t. “It’s No Other Than…” shows another method of appreciation. Here, Canibus’ uses the popular trend of revising famous rhymes to a whole new plateau. Especially in the final two verses, ‘Bis borrows from Biggie, Big Daddy Kane, and Audio Two. “Punch Lines” may be the raspiest, most ferocious of the tracks. Similar to his early appearance on Common’s “Making a Name For Ourselves”, Canibus mixes bravado with threat in the name of his own advancement. Lyrically, this is a veteran returning to his early blueprint and making necessary improvements.

Unfortunately, the music with Hip-Hop For $ale feels as uneven as with Can-I-Bus. Though Nottz may be a gifted craftsman, he’s lousy in giving this artist’s theme much support. “I Gotcha” doesn’t feel like an ode to the culture, it feels like a leftover on a G-Unit beat CD. “Back Wit’ the Heat” and “Dear Academy” use horn stabs and string arrangement that sound slow-cooked, but served cold. As a profiled collaboration, this work isn’t exciting. Instead, it is newcomer Jeff Wheeler that matches the lyrical content. “Benny Riley” sets the stage with a Steinski reference, followed by a building horn arrangement that’s as arrogant as the MC’s verses. With synthesized bass and a flute accent, “Punch Lines” is the musical showpiece. Guest, Hamza provides an original chorus attacking the Hip-Hop status-quo. Though Nottz has succeeded with mainstream artist album cuts, he’s proven ineffective in his “interest-generating” work with Royce 5’9, Krumbsnatcha, and now - Canibus.

Canibus is an MC worth listening to – and it’s not mostly the voice. Hard, opinionated lyrics, and mysterious storylines have kept ‘Bis on rewind for almost a decade. Fans follow in cult-like status, and Hip-Hop For $ale is theirs for the buying. For those who applauded Can-I-Bus and 2000 B.C., this may also be a touchstone to them. But for others, this album’s musical drone may lead some new listeners to the re-released Mic Club, also for sale.