Canibus……The Shelbyville Scottie Pippen?

The thin blue line that delineates heightened success and epic failure in the ever-changing landscape of Hip Hop is becoming more and more vague with each turn of the calendar page. In a world where Canibus is merely a court jester in the kingdom of Waka Flocka, it’s clear that the “dumb it down” generation has drawn a line in the sand against true Mc’s. So the history books are now skewed. People look back at old school rappers and aside from Pac and Big, can’t tell which rappers are legit…..kind of like looking at Larry Bird not knowing if he was just another player or did the media create a monster in a racial zeitgeist. Well in hip hop the skewing goes both ways as well. Big L was the benefactor of such skewing by dropping two good albums and then getting clapped. You know who else had two solid albums to open his career? Canibus! No doubt in my mind that with the lyrical venom that he spewed on Can-I-bus and 2000 B.C. A timely death in 2000 would have had his face on all those graffiti murals with Big, Pac, Big L, and Big Pun.  Instead, he took the dumb career path by living and now 15 years deep in the game, he’s been whittled down to an obscure rapper who’s lyrics soar over our heads. What other industry on this planet does the cream of the crop fall from grace so drastically? Can you imagine a Doogie Howser like prodigy having his overflowing talents completely overlooked and becoming a Registered Nurse? So the Question has to be raised………is Canibus the Shelbyville Scottie Pippen? I use the words Doppelganger and Shelbyville interchangeably in reference to the Simpson episode where Bart and company go to the neighbouring town Shelbyville where everyone meets their radical twins. (Milhouse’s twin kills me the most when they cry and hug while singing “when doves cry”) Pippen’s career mimics Canibus’s; right down to the end where Pippin is now considered an after thought. Every now and then I have to remind an Oblivious mind that Jordan has no more than two rings without Pippen, and a Jordan that possesses only two rings is no longer the Michael Jordan that we worship today. These two greats also share the following:

Both were savants in unusual ways; Canibus did it through lyrics backed on garbage beats which made his lyrics stand out even more. Pippen did it through being the best on and off the ball defender the league has ever seen.

Both didn’t gravitate towards the spotlight, which in the end, hindered their marketability.

Both could carry their own weight; Canibus’s first album peaked at 2 on the US Billboards without any famous guest appearances. Pippen carried a Jordan less team to a 55 win season in 94 while placing 3rd in MVP voting.

Both quietly changed the game; Canibus made it somewhat acceptable to rap about abstract thought and education. Like his bars in the original Channel Zero for example. Pippen created and perfected the Point/Forward concept. (The same position where Lebron James does the bulk of his damage)

Both were overshadowed by Giants at the time; Canibus by Jay Z and Nas in their respective primes. Pippen by his Airness.

So where do these two legends stack up in a parallel universe where up is actually up and the movie Crash is known as a horrible movie? Canibus is the third best true lyricist behind Eminem and Biggie. Pippen would not be known as the best “sidekick” ever, but the greatest perimeter defender ever and a top 25 player of all-time. But of course that makes too much sense in this world.


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