Did Canibus Ruin His Career by Breaking Out His Notebook During a Rap Battle?
Last month, Los Angeles hosted one of the most hotly-anticipated rap battles in years, pitting Canibus against legendary battler Dizaster at Exchange L.A. But it didn't live up to the hype. Canibus, a veteran rhymer best-known for his late-'90s rivalry with L.L. Cool J., showed up in a sling, and flailed.
He ultimately breached etiquette by reading rhymes directly out of a notebook. It went against the whole spirit of battling, alienating even the most diehard Canibus fans in attendance and birthing an Internet meme. (See the video below.) We spoke with organizer Organik, from the event's promoter King of the Dot, to try to understand how it all went down.
Johnn Novello, Tom Scott, Chris Standring
TicketsTue., Sep. 19, 8:30pm
Chin Up Kid, Morning in May
TicketsWed., Sep. 20, 7:00pm
Orphaned Land, Pain, Voodoo Kung Fu
TicketsThu., Sep. 21, 7:00pm
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
TicketsThu., Sep. 21, 7:30pm
Salute to John Coltrane
TicketsThu., Sep. 21, 8:30pm
How did plans for the battle come about in the first place?
Canibus did a show in Toronto in January 2010 where we inquired if he had any interest. He made it seem like a possibility, and we tried to work it out. He thought it would be a six-figure payday, but that changed quickly. It was a manner of my lawyers breaking them down into a number that was possible if everything worked out right. The idea came from battlers growing up and hearing all about Canibus and Eminem battling. While we have footage of Eminem, nobody got footage of Canibus. Whether it was a good battle or not, we could play "Mythbusters" and make hip-hop history.
The day of the battle was there any hint of what Canibus was going to do?
No. He actually, last minute, asked for the time for each round to be switched from four-to-six minutes to unlimited. Dizaster wasn't really having it, but then we realized we should just let him do unlimited because how many rhymes could he have?
Was he on time at the event?
Yeah, he was on point. I had no problem with his conduct. He was punctual and a super nice guy to all the staff members. He seemed to be in a genuinely good mood and excited to be part of the event.
Once the notebook was pulled out, did the atmosphere change?
Completely. He started the round going on a talking rant. Normally, I'd say "this isn't allowed," but he had sort of a mediocre first two rounds, and this was going to be what we paid for. You may have not seen an amazing battle, but you saw something you never expected, and it was 20 times more interesting. Everybody wanted to start talking. No one really knew what to say because it wasn't like he lost a battle, [it was like] he lost his pride, respect and career. I'm sure in his mind he wanted to be generous and give his fans something, but it just doesn't work that way.
Did you think Canibus' performance was going to become such an Internet meme?
I knew the second it happened that I wasn't going to check the Internet for days. Even as it was happening, I got 40 text messages throughout that third round from people asking me to cut him off.
Looking forward, are you going to put clauses in future battles to avoid a similar incident?
There were clauses in that contract, but why kick a dog when he's down?
Even with the Canibus incident, do you consider it a successful event?
For sure. It brought us huge exposure, and for our first major event in L.A., it couldn't have gone any better.
King of the Dot's next event happens in August. More information can be found at kingofthedot.com.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Los Angeles, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.