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Are We Still Pretending That Canibus Didn’t Crush LL Cool J With Second Round KO?

In 1998, one of the greatest diss songs ever in Hip-Hop was released. Canibus answered back to LL Cool J’s verse on “4,3,2,1” with some of the sickest lines spit on a mic. LL was what Hip Hop was about at the time and his verse on that track should have ended any up-and-coming MCs career. But Canibus was not your average star-struck kid in any sense of the word.

The debate rages on decades later as to who won the battle and many will point to LL due to what happened to Canibus’ career. Many feel that the beef with the Hip-Hop icon was just too much for Canibus to overcome. Was he black-balled? Maybe he was. But in terms of lyrics and pure energy, Canibus murdered LL Cool J with “Second Round KO.” Imagine having Mike Tyson open up your track.

Hey, Mike Tyson here, speakin’ with the Canibus man over here
Yo, Canibus, your main objective out here is to do nothin’ but
Eat, eat, eat, eat, emcees for lunch, breakfast

At that point, you knew this was about to be epic. Before “Second Round KO”, Canibus was just beginning his buzz in the industry spotlight. But who was this cat taking shots at LL? What made him think he actually had a chance to go against one of the heavyweights and leave a mark? But when he begin to spit, you knew that LL made a huge error.

So I’m a let the world know the truth, you don’t want me to shine
You studied my rhyme, then you laid your vocals after mine
That’s a bitch move, somethin’ that a homo rapper would do
So when you say that you platinum, you only droppin’ clues
I studied your background, read the book that you wrote
Researched the footnotes ’bout how you used to sniff coke

The first two bars alone won Canibus the battle. There is no debating what happened on that “4,3,2,1” track as LL laid his verse after Canibus did and went for the kill, damn near behind his back. That was a sucka move but it was one that LL has gone on record as saying he does regret doing. “My brain was not developed, I was not developed like that…Now I understand it was a compliment, he was just showing love and, you know, admiration. That’s why I don’t go at him now or try to hurt these dudes. I’m not gonna play that.”

Canibus was just haeting up. What makes a battle rapper so potent, is the delivery and especially if there is some truth to it. At the time, LL was mainly for the ladies. That’s not to say that he didn’t drop some heat for the fellas, but the truth is, as his name states, Ladies Love Cool James. And when Canibus said “99 percent of your fans wear high heels”, he could have ended the rhyme there, dropped the mic, and walked away a winner. But he wasn’t done with the heat.

You walk around showin’ off your body ’cause it sells
Plus to avoid the fact that you ain’t got skills
Mad at me ’cause I kick that shit real niggas feel
While ninety-nine percent of your fans wear high heels

If you think that the first verse was fire, what Canibus did with his second verse should be immortalized in Hip-Hop history as one of the greatest diss verses ever.

And if you really want to show off, we can get it on
Live in front of the cameras on your own sitcom
I’ll let you kick a verse, fuck it, I’ll let you kick ’em all
I’ll even wait for the studio audience to applaud
Now watch me rip the tat from your arm
Kick you in the groin, stick you for your Vanguard award
In front of your mom, your first, second, and third born
Make your wife get on the horn, call minister Farrakhan
So he could persuade me to squash it, I say, “Naw, he started it”
He forgot what a hardcore artist is

Canibus went ultra-personal with those bars. Told LL they could battle in front of the studio audience of his show “In The House”. That was just crazy!!! Then he referenced what started the battle when he told LL he would rip the mic from his arm and stick him for his Vanguard Award in front of his family and make his wife call Minister Farrakhan. There was no more that needed to be said after that. With just two verses, Canibus etched his place in Hip-Hop battle history.

But LL wasn’t done. He would release “Jack the Ripper” which was a barrage of insults aimed at Canibus but it didn’t hit as hard as “Second Round KO.” Think about the Jay Z and Nas battle. “Ether” was fire and no matter what Jay dropped after that, he could not put out the flame that Nas hit him with. That’s what happened to LL. He struck first then Canibus responded and no matter what LL did afterward, he had already lost.



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