Germaine Williams (born December 9, 1974) better known by his stage name Canibus, is a Jamaican-American rapper, actor and member of The Hrsmn, Sharpshooterz, Cloak N Dagga, The Undergods, and one-half of T.H.E.M. Canibus rose to fame in the mid-Nineties. About.com placed him at number 32 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987-2007), while in 2012 The Source placed him number 44 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time. He began rhyming in the mid-'90s and by 1995 under the name Canibus Sativa, and formed a duo called T.H.E.M. (The Heralds of Extreme Metaphors) with Atlanta rapper Webb (now called C.I., also known as Central Intelligence). While he was with Webb, he took part in a legendary cypher with the Wu Tang Clan family in Buffalo, New York, which earned him respect from the rap veterans. In 1996, T.H.E.M. split and Canibus teamed with businessman Charles Suitt. In December 1997, Canibus first publicly discussed a verbal confrontation with LL Cool J in an interview with Tourè for the Village Voice. Also attending the interview was John Forte, DMX, Big Pun, Mos Def and Mic Geronimo. The now legendary roundtable discussion was caught on film by Kurt Nice and first featured in early 1998 on Shades of Hip Hop compilation Hot 2 Def and re-released in 2004 on Shades of HipHop: The Cypher. Canibus' debut album Can-I-Bus came out in September 1998. The song "Second Round K.O.", produced by Wyclef Jean, was a success, with the video featuring Wyclef and a cameo appearance by boxer Mike Tyson. Despite eventually being certified Gold, critics panned the album, criticizing both Canibus's subject matter and Wyclef's beats, most of which were considered inferior to both "Second Round K.O." and the artists' previous collaborations.
The original album contained a lot of socially concerned material. Some songs talked about the corruption within the U.S. government, AIDS, and violence in modern America.Canibus had a feud with LL Cool J over a verse that Canibus displayed on LL's own track titled 4'3'2'1 off of his LP, Phenomenon. The track featured Canibus, Method Man, Redman, DMX and Master P. Canibus's verse began with the line "Yo LL, is that a mic on your arm? Let me borrow that," referring to the microphone tattoo on LL Cool J's arm which LL Cool J accused Canibus of insulting him. When the final cut of the song came out it featured LL Cool J's verse after Canibus, mocking an unspecified person believed to be Canibus. Because Wyclef produced the majority of the tracks on Can-I-Bus, Williams blamed him for the general dissatisfaction with Can-I-Bus and cut ties with him, going as far as to diss Wyclef, most notably on the title track of his second album ("You mad at the last album? I apologize for it / Yo, I can't call it, motherfucking Wyclef spoiled it!"). Said album, 2000 B.C., was also released to mixed feelings and reviews – the latter once more focusing on the lack of topical variety and uninspired production – also suffering from very little promotion by Universal Records. ll 2000 B.C. featured the first collaboration between Canibus and Kurupt, Ras Kass and Killah Priest, a rap supergroup collectively known as The HRSMN (referring to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse), on the track "Horsementality". Though following 2000 B.C.'s release it had been announced that the group would be releasing an album, these plans never materialized, with only an EP of outtakes from 2001 entitled The Horsemen Project released by Killah Priest's management in 2003. Since 2000, however, the members of the group have worked together on various songs and rumors of a full-length HRSMN album are rampant to this day and include speculation about collaborations with Pharoahe Monch, Common and Rakim, among others.
Wyclef Jean would respond to Canibus's earlier remark on the track "However You Want It" from his album, The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book.
Though much bitterness between Canibus and Wyclef Jean remained for a period of time, the two artists finally settled their differences at the end of 2004; they have since worked together on two remixes of the Machel Montano song "Carnival Survivors". In an interview with HipHopsite.com conducted in November 2005, Williams revealed that he had recorded five songs with Wyclef and Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis at Platinum Studios in New York for the upcoming Fugees reunion album. Whether or not those recordings will appear on the album has not been determined yet.In 2001, Canibus released his third album, C True Hollywood Stories, the title and some of the content deriving from the television show E! True Hollywood Story. It was released on Archives Music, an independent label owned by Williams' future business partner, Louis Lombard III. It was a controversial release due to the album's overall concept, which to this day remains quite unclear to some. Many listeners interpreted it as Canibus' botched attempt at becoming a commercial and mainstream artist and wrote him off as a one-hit wonder, while others have called it a concept album in which the rapper satirized the mainstream hip-hop scene. Most explanations since the album's release seem to lean towards the latter; when Canibus' new official website, MicClub.net, appeared online towards the end of 2002, the summary of C True Hollywood Stories in the "Merchandise" section called it "an introspective look into the ultimate fan "Stan's" take on the current state of hip hop".
In an interview conducted in 2005, Williams' former promoter, Pak-Man, who worked on over half of the album with the rapper, spoke on the record, with his explanation leaning toward the album being intended as satire: "At that time Canibus was in the studio recording a lot of songs and I mean a lot, but he didn't want to make the fans wait no more so he did C True Hollywood Stories and he wanted to have fun wit, so thats what we did we had fun wit". In an interview on AllHipHop.com posted on April 8, 2005, Williams was asked what direction he was trying to take with that album; in his response, he stated "That album depicts the state of affairs in my life at the time - nothing more, nothing less".
After the critical failure of C True Hollywood Stories, Canibus was subject to criticism and ridicule from the rap industry until the release of Mic Club: The Curriculum, his fourth full-length album, towards the end of 2002. Although the production was handled almost entirely by little-known producers, some of them from Europe, the record proved to be a greater critical success than the previous year's release. Mic Club also saw Canibus return to a more scientific and complex rapping style, with a number of concept tracks and few songs with a chorus. The album was released on Mic Club Music, Canibus' own label, but failed to chart, selling relatively few copies.
Following the release of Mic Club: The Curriculum, it was announced that Williams decided to join the United States Army. Before commencing his work with the military, however, he recorded a number of tracks which he intended to be released on his next album, entitled Rip the Jacker. Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind was given the task of producing the entire record, equipped solely with Canibus' pre-recorded vocals. Due to his military obligations, Canibus himself only managed to review the album after having acquired a copy.
Upon release, Rip the Jacker received rave reviews from the majority of critics, who noted that Williams' largely scientific lyrics and distinctive, rough delivery was finally matched by equally fine production, as Canibus had a history of working with badly selected producers. Unlike Mic Club, Rip the Jacker charted on both Billboard's R&B/hip-hop charts and the Billboard 200, peaking at #34 and #197, respectively, although commercially, it retained the tendency to sell few copies.
Critics highlighted various aspects of Rip the Jacker's originality, both in terms of beats and lyrics; Stoupe had employed a large number of samples from often obscure compositions, while Canibus himself undertook a variety of topics from various perspectives. Of note was the inclusion of "Poet Laureate II", a song exceeding seven minutes in length and lacking a chorus, with several changes of beat throughout; the track was frequently singled out as one of the strongest in Canibus' career and the album as a whole convinced listeners and the industry alike that the rapper had not lost his potential.
Rip The Jacker was the final Canibus album to receive any real critical acclaim, as the artist seemingly dug himself a grave with a string of albums that were poorly received. His very next album, Mind Control, would receive him no acclaim whatsoever and was seen as a huge step backwards for the rapper, and would be the start of what is considered to be a downward slope for him.Following Rip the Jacker and Canibus' subsequent discharge from the army, an album entitled Mind Control (2005) was released to negative reviews. Canibus had never planned for it to be compiled as a separate record, but agreed to release it through the independent Gladiator Music label as part of a contractual agreement; most of the vocals for Mind Control had been recorded prior to the release of C True Hollywood Stories. A collection of previously recorded material (with only three of the songs being unreleased) produced entirely by Mark Sparks, the album failed to chart and is rarely considered an official Canibus release by the rapper's fans.
Also in 2005, a collaboration between Williams and underground rapper Phoenix Orion, who had also been known for scientific lyrics, yielded the album Def Con Zero, released on the independent Head Trauma Records label, owned by K-1 kickboxer Dewey Cooper. The record featured guest appearances from Kool G Rap, K-Solo, and former 106 & Park host Free, among others. As Cloak N Dagga, the duo briefly toured the United States promoting the release.
The following month, after numerous delays, Canibus' seventh solo album, Hip-Hop for Sale, was released, but was panned by critics, who dismissed it as yet another failed attempt to gain mainstream recognition. Additionally, due to the earlier release of Mind Control and the leaking of most of the material in the form of a mixtape entitled The Vitruvian Man, the release date had been pushed back to November, the original date having been May. The production on Hip-Hop for Sale was handled in part by Virginia-based producer Nottz, with several relatively unknown producers handling the remaining tracks after Nottz had cut ties with Canibus due to the appearance of The Vitruvian Man.The day of Hip-Hop for Sale's release, Mic Club Master Volume One, a separate mixtape, appeared in stores, many of the songs receiving more praise than those present on the full-length album. In January 2007, it was announced that Canibus would release new material in 2007 exclusively on his own imprint, Mic Club Music, in a joint venture with Legion Entertainment and distributed via his former major label, Universal Music Group. A pair of mixtapes, titled Nothing to Prove and Nothing to Lose, were slated for release in March 2007, but were eventually scrapped; instead, Canibus decided to use the best material from each mixtape to create a new full-length album entitled For Whom the Beat Tolls.
When the record was originally announced in March, there was only one confirmed track – the third installment in Canibus' "Poet Laureate" series, "Poet Laureate Infinity". The track has 1,000 bars, in the form of five 200 bar verses, and is layered in such a way that "when you mix it and spread it throughout five channels, you have the ability to mix the track differently every time". On April 8, 2007, the track was uploaded, by Canibus himself, to a website where the listener could mix the track differently on a digital mixing board. The website is now down, but the fansite Canibus-Central.com provided a backup.
"For Whom the Beat Tolls" was originally set for release in May 2007, but was pushed back one month, and a released on June 12, 2007 (though it was not distributed by Universal as previously reported). The album has 16 tracks and includes contributions from Killah Priest and Vinnie Paz, among others, and featured two personally made mixes of the "Poet Laureate Infinity" track ("Poet Laureate Infinity v003" and "Poet Laureate Infinity v004").
Following the release of "For Whom the Beat Tolls", Canibus went on a sporadic tour in the U.S. to promote the record. In August 2007, Canibus made an announcement on his Myspace page that he had cut ties with his business partner Louis Lombard: "To my friends, family and fans, Just wanted everybody to know I no longer do business with Louis Lombard, III & Mic Club Music. In December 2009, it was announced that Canibus was in the process of releasing his 9th studio album Melatonin Magik. Melatonin Magik was released on February 09, 2010, to relatively positive reviews, being regarded as one of his most focused efforts yet. The album included several guest appearances (DZK~PR~ & Warbux), a marked contrast to many of his previous albums in which he kept features at a minimum.C of Tranquility was released on Oct. 5, 2010. Producers include DJ Premier, Jake One, Scram Jones, Tha Bizness and J-Zone. Originally recorded in 2008, it was sent to Interdependent Media for track mastery and release. Many of the beats were changed, and a few of the tracks were shortened. Originally intended to be a Melatonin Magik remix album, as more and more guests were invited to feature, Canibus decided to also record new material for the album, and it quickly evolved into an official solo album. In April 2011, it was announced that he would be selling the album through his new website, canibuscatalogue.com in order to have more control over promotion and sale.
An allegedly fraudulent Twitter account posing to be Canibus began posting inflammatory comments towards Royce da 5'9" and the Shady Records camp in early 2011, inciting verbal rebuttals from Royce, believing that the account had been him. Royce's fulmination continued, even after it had been announced that the account was fake by Canibus himself. This caused Canibus to release snippets from a track in which he has lines directed toward Royce. Royce responded simply by saying that Canibus had "fallen off" and could no longer rap well. Similar comments regarding the track were made by affiliate Joe Budden. Insulted, Canibus decided to release two audio snippets. One titled "Lyrical Law VS Joey Cupcakes" in which he harshly insults Budden; poking fun at his personal life and taking smaller shots at Royce da 5'9". the other, titled "Lyrical Law VS Royce da 5'9"" was a length of audio in which he goes in depth about his perception of the situation and further insults Royce da 5'9".
A track entitled "Spring Training" was released by Joe Budden two days after "Lyrical Law VS Joey Cupcakes" containing lines directed towards Canibus. To many, the track appears to be a response. This is untrue however, as the track was recorded prior to having a conflict with Canibus. As of June 2011, an official response from either Royce or Budden (aside from brief messages on Twitter) has yet to surface.Canibus completed his first rap battle for King of the Dot on June 9th 2012. Canibus initially stumbled during the first two rounds and controversially resorted to pulling out a notepad to read his bars during the third round, after admitting defeat and wishing to recite what he said were "30 pages of rhymes" that he had failed to memorize. The battle was part of King of the Dot's Fresh Coast division in L.A.
An open letter, originally thought to have been written by Canibus on Tumblr, explaining his performance about the battle surfaced online,though it was later debunked by his manager as fake, saying that Canibus will make an official statement when the time is right. Canibus later released an official statement on his Facebook page. About the battle itself, Canibus commented that "Sometimes people need laughter and entertainment at the expense of others embarrassment but Hip Hop means so much to me I don't care."
When asked about the incident during an interview with VladTV, Busta Rhymes stated "I'm disappointed about that. I'm very upset with him about that. He comes from the cloth where he knows better than that. You ain't supposed to do that. I always held Canibus in a very high rank as an MC, and I still do - his pen game is incredible as far as what he can do with that rhyme shit. This doesn't discredit him with his ability, but it definitely changes the dynamic of how I view where he was mentally in that moment, because I'm confused being that he knows we ain't allowed to do that. It's against the law."
Swizz Beatz also criticized Canibus for pulling out the notepad, but respected his intention to end the battle well.