Review: Hip Hop For Sale

I saw an interview with Canibus recently from when he was still in Iraq (I think it was in Mugshot). The one thing I remember clearly from it is that Bis said he felt kind of trapped by his fans, like he always had to step it up with the vocab since he knew all his fans were hungry for it.

That said, the only way that Bis could’ve made an album like this is that he’s trying to break the mould he’s built himself into, because God knows he’s capable of more.

Stranger still, it seems like this album is trying to provide you with two half-decent tracks to get you through an album of sub-par material, then hits you on the last track with a banger to try and leave you with a positive vibe for the whole thing. If this was their attempt to create something that even comes close to impress as Canibus’ previous albums did, whomever is responsible needs to send their check back – I’m reluctant to say it, but this album is weak.

Canibus is a battle rapper through and through. He’s always spitting about battling other cats left and right, and he’s got a million punchlines about being ready to at any time. I should know; according to iTunes I’ve got over 100 tracks with his name on them, about half of which are labeled four or more stars. I love Bis. It’s hard for me to dislike an album of his, and I’m still struggling to write this, like I must be somehow mistaken.

When I hear bad albums, I have a tendency to blame them on the producer. In this case, that’s Nottz. The dude has worked with Dre and Busta Rhymes in the past couple of years. But he does ok, though it took me a couple of listens to really appreciate what he’s done. It’s as if it’s a similar situation to Can-I-Bus. On this, Bis’ debut album, everyone was impressed with the lyrics themselves, but Wyclef Jean’s beats oozed Bis’ lyrics with Gone-Til-November type production work, stopping each syllable dead in its tracks (not to mention slowing his career to a crawl). Despite this, Can-I-Bus still remains a better album than this one. I’m speechless.

All this said, the best album by Bis remains Rip the Jacker. It’s the only one where the strength of Bis’ voice and lyrics are complemented by really powerful, dark beats from Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind (of Jedi Mind Tricks fame). All this is pretty ironic since Stoupe built the beats around Bis’ lyrics – if I remember correctly, he was already in Iraq by the time Jacker came out. Whatever the case, here’s hoping that Bis will return to his indecipherable scientific lyricism, rather than tinging his verses with endless details about guns and body armour.





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