Long before Joe Budden became one of hip hop’s biggest targets, Canibus was that man. He had begun rapping in the mid-1990s, as a native of New York, but living in Atlanta at the time. In 1995, he moved back up to New Jersey, where he linked with Redman.
Canibus’ chance meeting with Redman led to them rapping together on underground tracks. By 1996, LL Cool J was working on his album, Phenomenon. LL had a habit for uniting some of the most popular rappers in the game, along with newcomers for one big track. His posse cuts were known for creating drama, as his 1995, “I Shot Ya (remix),” was perceived as a diss to Tupac Shakur.
Looking to move past the beef, especially after the death of The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J was just trying to make music. For years, he had a strong relationship with Redman and the Def Squad. He also had a close relationship with Method Man, who was close to Redman. They are known as two of the best rappers in hip hop. It was a no-brainer for LL to feature them on his next posse cut. Redman suggested that he also feature Canibus on the track.
In the end, the new song was called “4,3,2,1.” The original version of the song featured Method Man, Redman, Canibus, and DMX. Each rapper recorded their verses, alone, and they were sent to LL Cool J. At the time, LL had not recorded his verse yet. Before LL Cool J went to record his verse, he played the other verses back as they were being prepared to be on the final version of the song.
For the most part, everything was great until he heard Canibus’ verse. The verse mentioned Canibus borrowing the microphone tattooed on LL’s right arm. While Canibus insists that he meant it as a compliment, LL Cool J took it as a diss and he recorded a verse that was dedicated to ripping Canibus apart. The song was put together and LL Cool J released the song first to the radio stations in New York City.
This is when Canibus heard the track and he reached out to LL Cool J. There is a phone conversation between the two rappers that can be found on YouTube where a resolution is reached. Canibus wanted LL to change his verse, but LL told Canibus to change his, to which he agreed. He said that once the song hits radio, no one will know who he is talking about. From there, LL pulled the song from radio and Canibus re-recorded his verse.
Still, the original version leaked and the feud was on. In 2004, their now-legendary feud was featured on the DVD, Beef II. Canibus spoke on the feud, along with Kool Moe Dee, a former rival of LL’s, along with KRS-One. He offered a unique opinion that Canibus should have simply rapped about something aside from LL. KRS stated that there should have been no mention of any type of mic, he should have been thankful to be on the track.
Six years have passed since those comments were made. It has been three years since his last album. Canibus has returned from the shadows with a new single, “Only Slaves D.R.E.A.M.,” that is said to be aimed at KRS-One. If this in indeed the case, Canibus should have responded in 2004, it is a new decade and the feud was from now two decades ago. LL Cool J now stars in a primetime drama on CBS, KRS-One is a legend, and Canibus has yet to have a hit single.