The bottom line
With a much-needed boost in production from Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind, Rip the Jacker showcases the lyrical mastermind that Canibus is and delivers some of his best work.
It would be next to impossible to name rappers on one hand who have the vocabulary that Canibus does. Hell, it would be difficult to name one, to be honest. This review is being written in 2020 and since the release of his debut album Can-I-Bus in 1998, Canibus has yet to fail to impress me lyrically over the years. With a seemingly never-ending supply of words to put together, he always finds a way to make me Google something new.
Canibus takes on one of his three alter egos on this album, Professor Emeritus Rip the Jacker. This is the super lyrical but also salty and bitter of the three alter egos. It’s like the smart kid in class who gets picked on for being brilliant and eventually goes on to be remembered throughout history for being great.
The opening track “Genabis” is a reference to the Old Testament’s first chapter Genesis. Over an eerie, church-like beat filled with bells and chimes, Canibus rap about how he became a fanatic about perfecting his rhymes. Fittingly, this came during the first seven days after the beginning of time.
In the beginning, I discovered wordplay / I experimented with some syllables from the first to the third day / On the fourth, I searched for the words to say / How to compress complex verbiage in the least amount of space / I was perfect at it and mastered the tactics / On the fifth day I decided I would combine it with mathematics / On the sixth day I became a fanatic and I couldn’t kick the habit / I would just look in the mirror and practice / On the seventh cycle, I had to take the day off / I was exhausted, I guessed my work will never pay off /– Genibus
Rip the Jacker, similar to basically everything else Canibus has put out, is nerd-rap. That is in no way a slight to him, but it does mean that it’s going to be enjoyed only by a specific audience. It’s ridiculously knowledgeable, layered on multiple levels, and filled with cosmic and philosophical references.
Any previous listeners of Canibus should immediately notice the improvement that’s present on Rip the Jacker. One of the aspects that have held Canibus back is his choice of beats. This album’s production was handled by Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind. To me, he’s the master of sampling other audio and blending it perfectly with the rapper’s lyrics. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, he’s the producer behind a lot of Jedi Mind Tricks projects. It’s not often that Stoupe is mentioned as one of the greats but he deserves to be in the conversation.
Canibus never reached commercial success and it’s not too surprising. Aside from his historically poor beat selection, the rapper started off his career as more of a battle rap scientist instead of a coherent song maker. He also has a rough, sandpaper-like voice that aids his delivery but isn’t the easiest to listen to. Canibus and 2000 B.C were both very aggressive albums lyrically with the focus on punchlines instead of poetic, cosmic messages. It’s no secret Canibus as he raps:
I’m above average with verbal semantics / The Aurora Borealis in the form of a rap ballad / They look at me like, “Poor bastard / Why can’t you manipulate Billboard with all your metaphor magic?” / No matter how hard I practiced / Every microphone I saw I grabbed it, obviously that’s the wrong tactic /– Levitibus
It appears that Canibus has hit a stride lyrically with Rip the Jacker. The songs are well structured, the lyrics are sharp and it sounds like he’s comfortable with who he is. Everything on this project sounds like it is supposed to be exactly where it’s at, nothing sounds forced.
Stoupe’s sampling is utterly beautiful on this album and it compliments Canibus’ aggressive, poetic rap style flawlessly. It’s a shame we didn’t get more Stoupe and Canibus project pairings because this is honestly a match made in heaven.
The last track, Poet Laureate II, is a masterpiece. Lyrically, one could argue that his track is the best rap ever written. Picking up where Poet Laureate left off on the album Mic Club: The Curriculum, Canibus delivers seven minutes of verbal excellence over three beats. One beat for each of Canibus’ alter egos. The first ‘verse’ has him describing Rip The Jacker as the best to ever do it as he raps:
He was the illest alive but nobody would face it / He spit till his tongue was too torched to taste it / Privately funded corporations carbon dated his latest creations / To extract the information / They found it utterly amazing / They claimed the body of his work was the same thing as a priceless painting /– Poet Laureate II (beat one)
The next beat displays some of the previously described Rip the Jacker’s raps. There’s a shift in this verse from the first as now Rip is talking about how dope he is and the heights of his intellect.
What is the maximum field rate application? / The runaway glaciation surrounding the ocean basin / Affects the population fluctuation / On a continuous basis but that’s just the basics / The juxtaposition of Canibus’ position / The precision of something no other has written / Way above and beyond what was intended / The unparalleled malleable enunciation of a sentence /– Poet Laureate II (beat two)
You have to give this track a listen.
One could easily write an entire post just on Poet Laureate II alone. From references to geniuses from the past and the impressive use of scientific vernacular, Canibus delivered a classic with this track.
Rip The Jacker is Canibus in his most suitable setting. Rapping complex, scientific bars over sinister and ghostly beats that allow him to project his vision upon the listener. He’s always had the ability to rhyme words that almost appear to be made-up, but he finally found a way to combine that with superb production from Stoupe. This album is one of Canibus' best projects to date.