RBI - Rap Battle Introspection - LL Cool J vs. Canibus

RBI – Rap Battle Introspection – LL Cool J vs. Canibus

July 16, 2009
in Category: reviews
29 365168 3

LL Cool J is infamous for his rap battles with Kool Moe Dee, MC Hammer and Ice-T. Many hip hop heads were confused when LL began a feud with young up and coming rapper Canibus, who was introduced to LL by his former managerm Wyclef Jean.   LL worked with young rappers – he would put them on a track and give them exposure.  In 1997, “4, 3, 2, 1,” a track on LL’s album, “Phenomenon,” featured Canibus, DMX, Method Man & Redman. Canibus wrote his verse on the track and LL took it as a low blow. The line “L, is that a mic on your arm? Let me borrow that” was taken out of context and LL told Canibus to change his lyrics.


Canibus agreed to this only if LL would change his lyrics as well.  LL refused, and lyrically murdered Canibus on the track. The lyrics LL  spit that dissed Canibus were “The symbol on my arm is off limits to challengers” and “Now let’s get back to this mic on my arm / If it ever left my side, it’d transform into a time bomb / You don’t wanna borrow that, you wanna idolize.” No one knew this at the time until years later when Canibus’ original verse was leaked. Many hip hop fans were disgusted, and fellow rappers said LL Cool J was just stroking his ego – that the  diss wasn’t  necessary.

After the track was made, Canibus and LL began to take their feud a little further. Canibus recorded the track “Second Round K.O.” and made a music video that featured Mike Tyson. This song dissed LL Cool J for being on a family sitcom, dissing his family and his ego. It was well received and, propelled Canibus’ career.  LL Cool J counter attacked Canibus with the vicious “The Ripper Strikes Back.”  Canibus’ album “Can-I-Bus” only went gold, and critics panned the release.  LL Cool J came out with another diss track that featured Ja Rule, called “Back Where I Belong” on his “G.O.A.T.” album that was released in 2000.  Canibus’ career was pretty much dead at this point, with only his debut album selling well.


The aftermath of the rap battle:

Canibus’ albums after his debut did not chart, and sold less and less as time went on.  In 2002, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and he released “Rip the Jacker,” his most critically acclaimed album. He was later discharged from the service for smoking marijuana. Canibus is well known for his lyrical ability, but many critics pan him for selling out through his career to achieve commercial success. Sources have said Canibus will retire releasing 3 more albums. At first, he was referred to as a “modern day Rakim” for his complex lyrical ability, but LL Cool J killed his career.  If it hadn’t been for the battle, maybe Canibus would have gained more commercial success.

LL Cool J continued to be a force in the rap game. All of his albums since “Phenomenon”, the original diss track that featured Canibus, have gone platinum. LL has had a lot of hits, along with being an entrepreneur and a successful actor appearing in 19 movies since 1997.  He released his last album off of Def Jam recordings, the only record label he has been a part of since 1985.  LL is now a regular character on the successful crime series “NCIS: Los Angeles”.  LL Cool J’s presence and status could not be overshadowed by Canibus, and everyone knew it. One of the few rap battles in hip hop that didn’t make much sense.


  1. Avery

    This is so good. Peeps need to realize that cannibus now wants LL to do a track with him now. I wouldn’t if I was LL. LL tried to speak to cannibus before he had listened to others to make money off of LL’s name by wanting battle him. LL had allot more battle tracks on cannibus too. Zoom zoom (3rd verse), shut em’ down, rasta imposta, 10 million stars, niggy nuts, and 4,3,2,1

  2. Drumsynth

    Right as im getting into CANIBUS through freestyles on youtube! hes one of my favorite rappers now and this article helps me understand his career.

    Thanks for writing a great article that really put this issue in perspective. personally ive never cared for LL its mainstreamers like him who make it hard for real talent. sell outs – but some do it for the dough. and some are just skilled.

    check out the canibus mixtape mic nificent on datpiff.com word!!

    1. Corwyn Rainey

      Y’all fux are just stupid, LL is a Legend in the rap game, maybe he’s not into the so called street shit that you want him to talk about like the other rappers but the name of the game is to get paid. All these artist you guys arw naming wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for guys like LL and Moe D etc… They were the ones that brought the rap game to the world and he’s lasted since his career began back when hip hop first started unlike most who only have about a good 5 yr run. L gave Can his chance to shine and he fumble the ball so better lyricist or not he couldn’t play thw game well enough to stay on the field. If going from Legendary artist to Hollywood is selling out then you guys then call me a sellout too cause I would take that career move over falling off the map. And I know this is an old post but it still trips me out.

  3. Me

    This article is full of shit. LL didn’t kill Canibus’ career, Canibus did. Canibus tried appealing to a lot of the mainstream crowd in his albums and the didn’t fly with underground listeners while the mainstream could never appreciate his ridiculous lyrics. The article also gives the impression that LL had the better disses, he did not. Canibus massacred him there.

    My last quarrel is that the article makes it seem that album sales are the ultimate barometer of success and talent. They’re not. So what if LL outsold ‘Bis, hasn’t Lil Wayne outsold Immortal Technique? Hasn’t Rick Ross outsold Rugged Man? Sales are just indicative of how much mindless crap you can produce for stupid people. Too bad Canibus tried appealing to this crowd,his career would have been turned out better if he stuck to what he was good at.

  4. Hip Hop

    The whole beef with Canibus and LL Cool J was pretty funny because no one could really decide who won in the end. LL COOL J makes some trashy music, but Canibus will always be the greatest lyricist alive.

  5. jaydub

    are u kiddin me dude LL is garbage compared to canibus yeah maybe he has like a million fans but that doesnt make him a good lyricist silly fuck …mainstream queers like you kill hip hop

  6. anon

    I thought LL retired in the 90ies, haven’t heard shit from him since years… who cares. But using a spell-checker before posting articles on the internet is always a good thing to do.

  7. product

    the person who wrote is an obvious groupie of ll bcos this is supposed 2 be about beef btwn the 2 raqppers wat is dat got 2 do wit ll’s success on tv and his trashy platinum selling albums

  8. havik damages

    canibus got more heat than l.l cool j..l.l couldnt bust nothing sicc..canibus could flow plus that mainstream fag of l.l is justa bag of garbage…CANIBUS is a better lyricist SRT8 up!!

  9. Danita Mayweather

    I love your web page! did you produce this yourself or did you outsource it? Im looking for a blog design thats comparable so thats the only reason I’m asking. Either way maintain up the great work I was impressed with your content actually..

  10. Yadi Supreme

    The Canibus LL Battle was an innocent clash between two people.
    Canibus was a young emcee acting like a young cat, LL was a grown up
    with lots of industry experience on his back.
    The battle made Canibus hot. Problem was, Canibus didn’t like the studio
    and would rather write rhymes than pick beats.
    His freestyles sound amazing over industry beats at the time, because those beats are official. His album production is not as good.
    I love both emcees styles and look up to them as artists, but I still
    feel LL didn’t have to do him bogus like that.


  11. T

    @Yadi Supreme – I agree with you 100% Canibus is an amazing lyricist, but after his multiple lackluster album releases, it’s hard to defend his ear for beats, and putting together tracks in general. At the same time, I think LL gained a lot more respect from the underground. He was already more successful at the time, and had more to lose than Canibus by battling publicly like that. Usually bigger artists don’t battle smaller fish, because there’s not as much to gain. In this case, it really ended up helping both artists. The only thing that really killed Canibus’ potential for success were the beats he picked out on all the albums which mattered.

  12. bboytricko

    Canibus kill ll all day everyday
    its true his productions werent that good, but thats mostly producers fault not his lyrics, Canibus would openly critisize his producer, Wyclef was the first, but still he always wanted to keep himself real and underground, not really caring about some catchy tune.
    And for the guy that said canibus wanted to appeal to mainstream but failed, thats bullshit, if u get ur sources right, he made that album as a satire to mainstream, he basically did it for fun, wether he had mainstream success or not didnt matter to him.

  13. bboytricko

    This article is bullshit by the way, extremely biased toward LL, and the last facts here are wrong, they make Canibus look like a bad rapper, u gotta be dumbass if u think canibus is a bad rapper. ESPECIALLY if u think LL is a better rapper than Canibus.
    Let LL be remembered for the decades but Canibus´impact will last as long as human knowledge has appreciation for art.

    1. Datshine

      Man, y’all killing me. Cream rises to the top. LL been on top since the Beasty Boys got his demo into Rick Rubens hands. Bis is better? How? Y’all said his albums were bad yet you want to say he’s better? Please! If he was all that, someone would have scooped him up and got him good beats. In the end it’s all about the albums sales. No sales means no money and no money gets your broke ass in the army and not recording. Lesson here is, picking battles with the wrong dude can be your end. Street cred and amazing lyrics don’t pay the bills. Gotta get that paper or you ain’t shit. Underground? That’s where broke niggas sit bitching all day about how good they are. I guess Bis is better than Big and The Wu since he so good right?

  14. bullshit

    Lol……this article is very one sided. Just saying ll murdered bis on 4 3 2 1 and calling the ripper strikes back vicious loses you all creditablity as a hip hop critic. Truthlly if anyone sold out it was ll. Dissing hammer because of him being mainstream was exactly the same shit ll did. And just because your albums dont sell dont mean you are not a dope mc. Suits have dictates the market since the corporate takeover of hip hop. Im sure your next article will be on how waka flocka is the greatesy mc ever

  15. Elvis (Elelenwo)

    Till date,i stil listen to 2nd round by Canibus. That track was ‘Dope’! No doubt a TKO!!! In d sch of lyricists, LL wld always be a baby 2 Canibus. Forget d money,forget d fame, if u r a true rapper..Canibus wld forever be rated mo’ dan LL in ur all time best rappers! I like LL, in movies tho..lol!

  16. xxdmansxx

    lmao all u busters either never paid attention to ll or your as stupid as canibus. ll has been around doin his thing and getting PAYED SWELL. YOU CANT DO THAT AND BE A BUSTER. lls lyrics hit hard as do most of his beats. and nah i aint no groupy but i know hes EARNED his. and no weak young bucks can take anything from him. real talk get back to ya blunts and pretend ya know something cuz all ya doin here is showin how stupid youth can be!

  17. Ryan

    Has anyone seen canibus vs. Dizaster? That shut canny’s career down for good. Canibus sucks, talks big but when put in the position of a real battle rap that sucker folded and even pulled out a notepad on pay per view. The only thing caninis can battle is the alarm clock when it wakes his tired ass up to flip burgers.

  18. Pat

    Throughout the history of battle rap, everyone knows that LL Cool J is among the illest battle rappers to ever spit. 2nd Round KO and The Ripper Strikes Back was two of the illest battle tracks ever composed back to back. Both tracks cancel each other out. Canibus was an excellent lyricist but just way in over his head going up against the ultimate battle rapper. After 4321 and the Ripper, LL savagely crushed him track after track: Niggy Nuts, Back Where I Belong, LL Cool J, Shut’em Down, 10 Million Stars, Farmers, Rasta Impasta, and a few others. It is what it is …Just ask KRS1, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, and other credible battle rappers ..they have all said LL won the battle and the war

  19. Daddymac10

    There was a freestyle LL did for the Gatorade commercial during the 2001 NBA finals was classic. It was a diss to Canibus called “Leave it on the Floor”. With a player looking like Canibus playing defense getting crossed-over, slam-dunked, and stepped-over. Lyrics was classic..

  20. klypz

    This was sad. Sad for LL cause he stooped to a level he really didn’t have to, he took food from an up and coming artists plate. Sad also cause of the way Bis’ career has played out and how it possibly could have. At the end of the day, Bis should have also realized who he would be sparring with and weather his album would be able to shield him from the storm. It didn’t. It wasn’t totally bad, but it wasn’t totally good either. Another way to look at it is, in a commercial world, bis would have had to sell himself out to the tenth degree cause no one really knew him like they did LL….it may have been better for for him lyrically going down the path he did. Financially however, he dropped a 100 pound sledge hammer on his lil toe.

  21. dresta

    Cool J reign supreme. You never come in the game trying to dis a legend or established and accomplished person in any field. It’s suicide. LL tried to tell him but I guess he did it for the fame or something. Feel me. Plus, many have died when the LL growl is amplified.

  22. Luv in yo mom

    Bottom line noone gave a fuck about can o crap’s ass. I been bustin cervix’s to ll’s music since the early 90′s. I bet ya’ll think biggie was better than tupac too

Leave a Reply to Daddymac10 Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>