Words Worth

Every 3000 styles, I change my voice box's oil--Wyclef f / Canibus, "No Airplay"

Wyclef and his associate Jerry Wonder mostly meet Canibus with misplaced, organic funk grooves left over from Erykah Badu demos. (Surprising, considering how tense and funky Jean's beats are for Big Pun's "Caribbean Connection" and his own LL comeback, "What's Clef.") "I Honor U" could have really hit home by avoiding the hip-hop axiom that songs about women must have smoove sonics, unless they're about bitches and chickenheads, in which case you can be funky.

So fly, I need a passport just to walk--Heltah Skeltah f / Canibus and Ras Kass, "Uni4orm"

There are glimpses of a happier fusion: Longtime Fugee paramedic Salaam Remi drops a suitably dusted Hawaiian guitar sample on "Get Retarded" and L.G. outfits "Nigganometry" and "What's Going On" with dusty, if somewhat low-key, '70s funk from the crates. But overall, the mood of the tracks would suit someone more terrestrial and friendly than Canibus. What Canibus wants is what hip-hop provides so reliably: brightly colored, hydraulic rhythms that feel like human rhythms except bigger, more squeaky, both more artificial and more powerful. Because Canibus knows about more.

There ain't a microphone brave enough to give me feedback --"Buckingham"

Enigma status may end up earning Canibus his place in history. He's relentlessly grim and serious yet he says some of the funniest shit you've heard all year; he trucks in weird subject matter but has a clear delivery; and he's ghettocentric enough to write "Nigganometry" but school-friendly enough to do it using examples that would please any high-school science teacher. That means, like Q Tip, Slick Rick, and Biz Markie, Canibus sounds neither under- nor overground--just very much like himself and not particularly interested in making friends. If he boots up his heart and gets some beats from Premier for the next album, duck.

If you John Blaze, or you James Flames, or you Jack Cremation, I'm Germaine Propane --"Let's Ride"
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