Who doesn’t like a good ol’ fashioned rap beef?
Since Kool Herc’s first party in the South Bronx one summer day in August of 1973, feuds between MCs and crews have come and gone throughout hip-hop’s history. there’s really no shortage of a lyrical sparring match you can revisit and reminisce on. Even today, there’s some bad blood between rappers that’s just won’t go away. as part of our EDITORIALS fmg will be giving you some perspective on our series THE ART OF RAP BEEFS. ENJOY!!!
In the late ‘90s, LL Cool J, one of the most decorated hip-hop veterans, went round for round against newcomer Canibus all because he took offense to a certain lyric on his song, “4,3,2,1.” LL invited Canibus to join his posse cut that featured Method Man, Redman, and DMX, but his original verse mentioned LL’s famous tattoo: “L, is that a mic on your arm? / Let me borrow that.” He probably didn’t mean for it to be an insult, but L thought it was so he had him re-do his verse and edit out the line.
Even after that, LL still took aim at him on the same song, rapping, “The symbol on my arm is off limits to challengers” and “If it ever left my side it’d transform into a time bomb/You don’t wanna borrow that, you wanna idolize.”
The pettiness didn’t stop there. LL omitted Canibus from the original video because of their feud, which put him in a position to retaliate with “Second Round K.O.” Co-produced by Wyclef Jean, Canibus ripped into LL’s reputation with some words from boxing legend Mike Tyson as encouragement. “You studied my rhyme, then you laid your vocals after mine / That’s a bitch move, something that a homo rapper would do,” he rapped.
Of course, LL wasn’t going to let him have that round. He answered with “The Ripper Strikes Back.” Their war of words continued with Wyclef jumping into the fray for literally no reason (“Retaliation (What’s ‘Clef Got to do With It?)”) and the two going at it again (LL’s “Rasta Imposta” vs. Canibus’ “Rip the Jacker” vs. LL’s “Back Where I Belong”).
In the end, Canibus’ defeat was a mix of going against a seasoned battle rapper, dropping a lukewarm debut (Can-I-Bus) at the height of their beef, and struggling to gain commercial success after the critical praise of “Second Round K.O.” LL practically handed him the L.