The Canibus lyric LL Cool J had removed from a song
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The Canibus lyric LL Cool J had removed from a song

LL Cool J is among hip-hop’s great legends and most esteemed rappers. That said, unlike several of his peers, he has not been in many beefs. However, in 1997, he became the centre of an intense rivalry with the Bronx emcee, Canibus.

Canibus was an underappreciated yet artistically exceptional East Coast emcee. Born in Jamaica and raised in NewYork City, the rapper (real name Germaine Williams) found fame following a 1996 remix of the Lost Boyz single ‘Music Makes Me High.’

However, when he hopped on the LL Cool J track ‘4, 3, 2, 1’, he ended up getting on the wrong side of the ‘Rock The Bells’ icon. During the original recording of the 1997 single, Williams rapped, “Yo L, is that mic on your arm? Let me borrow that,” referencing the tattoo of a microphone on LL Cool J’s arm.

The Queens native (real name James Smith) took this as a sign of disrespect because, for him, the tattoo was a symbol of his superiority on the mic. As such, he removed the Canibus line and instead used his verse on the 1997 single to diss Williams, rapping, “When young sons fantasize of borrowing flows, tell little shorty with the big mouth the bank is closed”.

This commenced a vicious back-and-forth between the two. Canibus retaliated by recording “Second Round Knock Out, to which LL Cool J responded with ‘The Ripper Strikes Back’ which also aimed shots at Canibus’ mentor Wyclef Jean. Unsure what he had to do with Smith’s feud, Jean released the song ‘What’s Clef Got To Do With It?’ to which LL Cool J replied with ‘Rasta Imposta’.

Although LL Cool J attempted to reply to Canibus’ original diss track, ‘Second Round KO,’ its music video saw Williams embarrass LL by having the legendary boxer Mike Tyson not only appear in the video but have a few lines on the track.

The intense feud helped put a spotlight on Canibus, who used the limelight to release his debut album. However, it was received poorly by critics. Slowly but surely the beef came to a halt. However, it was undeniably entertaining.

You can see the music video for ‘4, 3, 2, 1’ below, as well as the video for ‘Second Round KO.’