Canibus had finally begun to find his niche in the Bronx. Unfortunately, as soon as he started to fit in a little, his mother informed him that they would be moving to Washington, DC. Bis would quickly learn what it meant to be the "new kid on the block" and this would be a lesson that he would carry with him throughout his childhood. His mother worked for a housing project corporation and at the end of every year her company would give a bonus to the employees that agreed to pick up and move to the next city of interest. With two sons to support, that bonus was much more important to Elaine than finding a permanent residence for her family. Her job brought Canibus and his younger brother up and down the east coast of the US. Canibus experienced being "the new kid" in DC, Miami, DC again, England (where his mother was originally from), Atlanta and eventually New Jersey.
Moving around so much, Canibus never got the chance to make any real friends. He became a reclusive loner in every city he moved to. His time was divided among various hobbies � from playing video games to flying toy helicopters. He graduated high school in 1992 and went to work for AT&T for a year. After working with AT&T, Bis moved on to the US Department of Justice, where he worked as a data analyst in the Economic Litigation Division. This job required him to use a computer constantly and he quickly discovered a new hobby � the internet. Canibus, who was always a technology junkie, coveted the unconstrained vastness of the World Wide Web.
Cani's love for computers and the internet led him to study computer science at DeKalb Community College in Atlanta for three years. While at DeKalb, Canibus also got into the allied health field. He had always been interested in genetic engineering and college gave him the chance to learn about radiology. He interned at an MRI center, examining war veterans.
Though Canibus dabbled with several jobs and interests, his main pursuit in life was rapping. During his days as a kid in the Bronx, Bis had evolved through various elements of Hip Hop. He started out breakdancing and then got into beatboxing. That eventually led to him picking up a mic and learning how to tear it to shreds. By the time he landed in Atlanta, Cani had become an aggressive battle emcee with an interesting mixture of unmatched book-smarts and street-smarts. His boy Pat from DC hooked him up with this cat Webb, who was holdin down the ATL at the time. Webb and Canibus made a perfect combination and in 1995 they started making moves in Atlanta as the duo T.H.E.M. (The Heralds of Extreme Metaphors).
T.H.E.M. is probably best known for their legendary battle against the Wu-Tang Clan outside an Atlanta club. Canibus and Webb went toe to toe with the entire extended Wu family, until Killah Priest stepped up to the plate. Priest kicked a six- minute freestyle that left T.H.E.M., the Wu and the 100+ spectators speechless. Nonetheless, respect was given all around. Canibus was starting to make friends in the industry. Around this time, a local Atlanta barber introduced Bis to a young entrepreneur named Charles Suitt. Though their relationship took some time to develop, it was a relationship that would later lead to big things for Canibus.
In 1996, after performing at the Gavin Convention, T.H.E.M. handed Suitt an eighteen-track demo, produced entirely by the duo. Suitt was very impressed with the demo, as well as with Canibus himself. As a new friendship was forming, however, an old one was starting to die out. Bis and Webb started beefing over God knows what and T.H.E.M. quickly became a thing of the past. With his career in the limelight stunted, Canibus moved to the inside of the game. He helped Suitt start up Group Home Entertainment, the management company best known for representing the Queens-based group The Lost Boyz.
Though Canibus was hard at work with the Group Home family, he was still determined to achieve his goal of making it big as an artist. Bis started making moves on the underground circuit, blessing a mix tape here and there. In 1997, the Bay Area artist Ras Kass took a gamble on Canibus. Ras invited Bis to rhyme on a track with himself and Helta Skeltah that was slated to be on the Rhyme & Reason soundtrack. Ras caught a little heat from Priority Records, the label behind the project, but his faith in Bis proved well-founded. With Canibus spitting fire on the track, "Uni-4-Orm" (listen) was undeniably hot.
Soon after "Uni-4-Orm", Canibus received another big break. His fam the Lost Boyz asked for his assistance on their second LP, "Love, Peace & Nappiness". The album contained two verses from Bis � one in the song "My Crew" (listen) and ofcourse the eminent two minute and twenty second epic from "Beasts From The East" (listen). This verse would go down in history as one of Cani's most remarkable ever. Canibus collaborations were now in full effect and he was getting calls from some of Hip Hop's top artists. He was about to get a phone call that would change his career and his life forever.
When LL Cool J invited Canibus to appear on his new single "4, 3, 2, 1" (listen | view), Canibus couldn't say no. After all, this was LL Cool J � a man who had been in the game for at least a decade, a living Hip Hop legend. When the two artists met, it was all love. Canibus, admiring the tattoo of a microphone on LL's arm, asked if Mr. Smith would mind if Bis got a mic tatted on his arm. LL joked about it, saying that Canibus should only get a mic tattoo if he truly felt he was worthy. This conversation in mind, Canibus stepped into the booth to record his verse for the song. Bis included a few lines before he began to rip it, shouting out each of the other artists in the song. His line to LL included something along the lines of, "Yo LL. Is that a mic on your arm? Let me borrow that!". To this day, Canibus insists that the line was meant as a compliment. However, LL and his giant-sized ego took it as a diss. LL went in the booth and recorded an entire verse directed at Canibus. When Bis confronted him about his verse, LL said that he would change it as long as Canibus took the microphone line out of his. Done. Bis re-recorded his verse, thinking that LL was going to do the same. However, when the final "4, 3, 2, 1" was released, the LL verse remained intact. The situation might not have gone any further. Without Cani's microphone line, it was possible that no one would be able to tell who LL was talking about. But like any other controversial production, the original "4, 3, 2, 1" leaked and the truth was exposed. Now Canibus had no choice but to bring the heat. LL disrespected him and as a man, Canibus was not gonna let that ride. He recorded indisputably one of the best battle raps in the history of Hip Hop � "Second Round K.O." (listen | view). With a little help from Mike Tyson (who laced some background vocals to hype up the song), Bis ripped LL to pieces. This ignited one of the biggest Hip Hop feuds of the decade, involving Canibus, LL Cool J, Wyclef Jean and various other individuals who wanted in on the action. For more information regarding the LL Cool J beef, click here.
How did Wyclef, of all people, get involved? Well let's backtrack a little bit, to the opening night of Sean "Puffy" Combs' new restaurant in Manhattan, Justin's. On this night Canibus was introduced to Clef by Jay-Z. The two hit it off right away and Canibus was soon down with Clef's Navy Seals. Canibus toured with Wyclef while he began work on his debut album, "Can-I-Bus" (info). Canibus had built up so much hype with "Second Round K.O.". All of America was awaiting his first full-length album. When "Can-I-Bus" finally dropped on Universal in September of 1998, it debuted at number two on the Billboard album chart. It sold over 127,000 copies in its first week and eventually brought a gold plaque home for Canibus. However, the critics had a field day with the album. The Source magazine called it one of the biggest "bricklayers" of 1998, saying that it "tanked horribly with poor beat choices". It seemed that all the press had to say about "Can-I-Bus" was that the beats and production were terrible. Canibus hardly got the props he deserved for writing one of the most profound albums of the century. When Canibus said "Lyrically on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm 25" he wasn't kidding. He brought the heat with a number of battle tracks, dropped some knowledge with various songs and even schooled us on conspiracy theories. Cani's delivery and voice sounded ill and his lyrics and concepts were off the meter. However, the bad press seemed to shut Bis up for a while. Bis sort of 'blamed' Wyclef for the bad production and dropped Wyclef as manager and cut all ties. Click here for more information regarding the Wyclef issue.
In between albums, Canibus was featured on various collaborations. He continued to outshine anybody that stepped into the studio with him. However, Canibus fans were denied the opportunity of hearing any solo joints from Bis. Near the end of the first quarter of 1999, a few bootlegged tracks began to slip out and later that year the new single "2000 BC" (listen) appeared on a DJ Clue mix tape and it was official � Canibus would have a second album out sometime in the year 2000. The word from Cani's mouth was that this time around things would be different. While making his first album, he didn't really get involved with the production aspect. This time he was going to make sure he gave the public what they wanted � blazin battle raps over some hot beats. The album would be called "2000 BC" (info), 2000 for the year and BC meaning "Before Can-I-Bus". Bis was taking it back to 1997, to the days of the raw lyrics, before the wack production on "Can-I-Bus".
Die-hard Canibus fans began counting down the days until the release of "2000 BC". However, on the other side of things, those who were still unsure of Canibus weren't anticipating the album at all. Universal, Cani's label, wasn't giving them anything to anticipate. The lack of promotion was obvious. Universal let Bis make one video, the video for "Mic-Nificent" (view) and it hardly aired at all. Canibus got little radio airplay. Commercials and posters were rare. While this lack of promotion hurt Cani's record sales, the biggest blow had to come from the uncontrollable bootlegging of the album. Ideally, if a fan bootlegs an album, he or she would go cop the official when it drops in order to support the artist. But we can all guess what the majority did.
When "2000 BC" finally dropped, there were mixed feelings about it. Yes, the production was tighter. But it still wasn't as tight as many had hoped it would be. The other big letdown � it was an entire album of back to back battle raps. Yes, that is what Bis was known for and what he was best at. But the album got a little monotonous due to the lack of concept songs.
With two LPs out, what would Cani's next move be? Well "2000 BC" introduced us to the next phase in his career. With the song "Horsementality" (listen), Canibus launched the beginning of the elite Horsemen. The song featured Kurupt, Ras Kass and Killah Priest along with Canibus. Later, rumors would emerge about various other artists becoming Horsemen � Pharoah Monche, Common and Rakim to name a few. A Horsemen project was now in the works.
Meanwhile, Canibus dropped out of the public eye big time. He left Universal and submerged himself in the Web, amongst the underground internet Hip Hop community. He traveled across seas where he was welcomed with open arms to do shows and interviews. While in the UK in January of 2001, Bis did a live session (listen) where he finally came back at LL hard (a few days later it was also performed in Amsterdam). This diss would later be turned into a track called "Rip The Jacker" (aka "I'm Bad") (listen) and begin to circulate on the internet. Soon afterward, "Rip The Jacker" could be found at Cani's mp3.com website, along with other new material. Also featured on the site was a big symbol for Gladiator Records, apparently Cani's new label.
In 2001, Bis wanted to show his versatility. He started his carreer with the "Can-I-Bus" album, a mixed release with battle, knowledge and story-telling tracks. Then came with "2000 BC", a complete album with battle raps. After that he wanted to do a story-telling album and released "'C' True Hollywood Stories" (info). This was a no-label release, only for the fans and to show his versatility to the world. Bis tells Hollywood stories trough his eyes, he even did a parody on the whole "Stan story" by Eminem. The album was a total flop for his fans. The fans had been waiting for new Bis material, but when it was finally there they didn't understand how he could release such a terrible album. The story-telling was on a certain level, but overall it just weren't the type of Canibus tracks which people loved. The album had a nice R.O.C. diss track on it though, called "I Gotta Story 2 Tell" (listen). Bis took shots at the label, because he dislikes Jay-Z. Later one of R.O.C. signed artists, Beanie Sigal, directed one line at Canibus in his track "Put Yo Hands Up". In response to that track, Bis ripped Beans on "Who Ownz You" (listen). For details on this fued, click here.
In 2002, Canibus signed up for the United States Army. For the next three years fans had no concrete reason for this decision. It was originally thought that he did it because he was affected by the September 11, 2001 attacks but according to an interview with SOHH.com from 2005, there was another reason: "I enlisted because I wanted to get away from the music," said the MC. "I wanted to do something that gave me a separate definition from what I had done all through my teens and twenties. I was 28 when I enlisted". In May of 2003, two months before his fifth album, Rip the Jacker, he graduated from Ft. Knox and started out as a reconnaissance specialist. In 2004, he was caught smoking marijuana and was discharged for it.
Music wise, after the "CTHS" drop, Canibus was completely out of the public eye but because of his strong love for Hip Hop, he still wanted to continue making music. In 2002 he returned with the great album release of "Mic Club: The Curriculum" (info) which came out of nowhere. The album was released on Koch/Babygrande/Micclub Records and this record also promoted his new MicClub.net website. This album consists of creative and intelligent rhyming, good production and nice collaborations with Vinnie Paz and Kool G Rap. Cani really took it to a next level with the "Mic Club" release and to his fans he was back in full effect. On the track called "Curriculum 101" (listen) Bis aims at the succesful Eminem. Eminem already took a few shots at Canibus before this track and this was Cani's response. The background on this beef can be read here.
Early 2003 Canibus released new material on two mixtapes, "My Name Is Nobody" (info) and "The Brainstream" (info), which were spread on the internet. "My Name Is Nobody" includes a track called "Stupid Producers" (listen), directed at former producers.
In the spirit of Kool Keith's collaboration with Dan the Automator for the Dr. Octagon concept album, Canibus teamed up with Jedi Mind Tricks' producer Stoupe The Enemy of Mankind for a concept album entitled, "Rip the Jacker featuring The Enemy of Mankind" (info). This album was released in July 2003 on Babygrande Records. With Stoupe doing the production on this album, that aspect was covered. Cani's incredible rhyming ability, his sharp voice and Stoupe's production are the result of another great release. With the last track on this album, "Poet Laureate II" (listen), Bis made a short summary of his carreer moves, rapping over different beats and this is for many fans their all-time favorite Canibus track. Overall a great album, to many people this is his best release yet.
Till this time, people were still waiting for the release of "The Horsemen Project" (info), a collaboration album by the Four Horsemen (Kurupt, Ras Kass, Killah Priest and Canibus). Late 2003 the record was released on Think Differently Music / Proverbs Records. Featuring on 9 tracks this combination was complete. All four MC's on the album were lyrically on a high level and many fans hope for a second album.
At the end of 2004, Canibus hooked up with producer Nottz for a serie of new tracks. Unfortunately, these new tracks have been leaked on the internet in the beginning of 2005. Because of the leaking of these tracks, they've decided to combine the new tracks produced by Nottz and some recent mixtape freestyles into a mixtape called "The Vitruvian Man" (info). This mixtape was placed on the internet as a full download.
Later in 2005, Ricky Lee (somebody Bis worked with in the past) and Canibus opened a new website for a new label called Gladiator Records. The website (gladiatormusic.com) promoted the new album release called "Mind Control" (info). This album was released on June 21 and many fans were disappointed about this album, because it's basically a compilation of old tracks that were revamped. Only 3 tracks on the album were completely new for the real fans. Most of these old tracks were already released on the "My Name Is Nobody" and "Brainstream" releases. For non Canibus fans this release was fresh though. The album really shows Cani's versatility and still is a good drop overall.
In September 2005, MicClub.net started publishing alot of interesting news. Canibus hooked up with Phoenix Orion (former member of Alien Nation), called them self Cloak 'N Dagga and teamed up with Head Trauma Records to release a 70+ Minute DVD and CD. The release dropped in October that year and was called "Def Con Zero" (info). Overall a solid album and lyrically Bis spit some real good verses on the album. The first single "Livin" was released and they also made a video for it. Click here to view this video. The Head Trauma Records (headtraumarecords.com) label is owned by K-1 fighter Dewey "Black Kobra" Cooper and Canibus became vice-president of the label. This new step also resulted in the ending of MicClub Records. Bis and Cooper became friends a year ago and Phoenix Orion is also a friend of Cooper. Cooper introduced Phoenix Orion to Bis and one day they were talking about the situation in the rap game. How the quality was bad and all that. Bis and Phoenix rhymed together and then Cooper made the comment "What is needed to release material like this?". So one thing lead to another and finally Bis helped Cooper with starting a label. For the fans, this collaboration was real good. Thanks to the webmaster of Head Trauma Records, VipeNess, there was alot of interaction on this site. He organized a Teamspeak audio interview (listen) and Canibus was closer to the fans than ever before. Alot of exclusive material was released during that period and everybody on this site was involved. For more information about the Cloak 'N Dagga project, click here.
In November 2005, "Hip Hop For Sale" (info) dropped on Babygrande that was supposed to be released in May 2005. This album was, like the title already gives away, a commercial type of release. Featuring 11 tracks in total, there are 5 tracks on it that were already released on "The Vitruvian Man", the leaked mixtape. These tracks were mastered and next to 5 new tracks (although the tracks called "Da Facelist" and "Punchlines" have earlier released verses, but new beats) this was a nice release. The first single of this album was released on November 15 and is called "It's No Other Than". Most tracks were produced by Nottz and his Teamsta production team, and there is also production by Jeff Wheeler, Jayswiftz, Blackmilk(who produced Slum Village's new album), Tick and J.Star on the album. On the same date of this "Hip Hop For Sale" release, there was also a mixtape release on MicClub.net called "Mic Club Mixtape Master Vol. 1" (info). This mixtape consist of old and new tracks. Most of the new tracks were recorded during Bis' army period. For the cover art of this mixtape, MicClub.net held a cover contest that got many fans excited to start designing for it. Click here to check all submitted covers.
2005 was a good productive year for Canibus. During 2006 Bis released a couple new tracks and he did alot of tours, mainly in England. Canibus started a MySpace page (just like the rest of the world) and alot of news was posted there. Also new pictures with him and producers like DJ Premier and Domingo were added and that made clear that he was really making moves. Fans could expect some great production on his new releases and then it was confirmed. Canibus will release two new mixtapes in early 2007 called "Nothing To Prove" and "Nothing To Lose" and in late 2007 there will be a major album release called "C of Tranquility". The album will be distributed by Universal.
In his own words:
"Growing up, man, it wasn't a walk in the park. I was always fighting, somebody always had something to say, and I wasn't the type to turn around and walk away from the fight if I was right. I'm human. I make mistakes, and a lot of times, I got what I deserved. On the flipside, if I was right, and I felt in my heart that I was right, I wouldn't walk away. If you come through, step on my shoes, I'm going to see you about it. Throw eggs on my door, I'm going to see you about it. I'm not the one to turn around and walk away from anything. If I'm provoked, I'll let people know that. When I wasn't that way, I got trained to be that way. Otherwise, I'm a sweet, caring, chill-out, laid-back kind of person. If you give me a laptop and an analog line, and you give me some food and leave me in a corner, I'm good. I won't bother nobody. If you provoke me, I'll bite you right back. I'll take a big chunk out of you. I got those great white shark teeth, those teeth that go inward. I got six more rows behind this row. I don't let it come out, but when I'm ready, they'll come out and I'll take a big chunk out of anything."
"To hate the image of Canibus is to hate the competitive spirit of rap music. My technical approach to rhyming leaves no room for credible criticism therefore anti-Cani people look for an easier target such as beats, hooks, etc. As long as Hip Hop stands then so will the image of Canibus because they are inseparable. In my youth I looked at rap videos and listened to rap songs in awe of something I couldn't do. I studied and trained to rhyme this way. A Canibus verse is a display of complete lyrical fitness. If it's so easy to rhyme like Canibus then more people would sound like him than let's say.. Nelly (no disrespect ofcourse). If 50 solid bars were easier than empty 16's then I would not be challenged. If nursery rhymes were the ceiling for hip hops' growing audience then I would have never put pen to paper. From the beginning I aimed to make a statement in rap music as a lyricist. I pushed myself to keep it tight with every line I said. The art will evolve but right now apathy is the easy way out. Outside of the mass media and chart positions, I see the clear poetic value of my contribution to rap music. I am human, a part of humanity, and I write what I feel. If my rhymes aren't 21st century poetry then I don't know what is."
"Once people understand that I'm not somebody that you can graph, that I'm not predictable in any form or fashion, once you understand that, then you understand me better. Fuck traps because I can get out of any trap. Any type of means to snare me is useless. Especially if its just a mental trap or something like that... I'm capable of anything. Anything on the face of this planet I'm capable of. And I know that. Thats the dangerous thing about me, 'cause I know it. And by knowing it, I'll do it. Just to show that yes, somebody out there got enough balls to do it. And I'm not talking about the LL situation in particular. I'm talking about any situation I'm faced with in life."