Gets Back To His Hardcore Roots On ‘Def Con Zero’
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Renowned For Leading The Mix Tape Market In The 90′s And For A Legendary Feud With LL Cool J, Canibus Debuts With Collaborator Phoenix Orion As ‘Cloak N Dagga’
Back in the mid-90s, the brilliantly talented upstart street poet and performer Canibus made a monstrous impact on the East Coast rap world in two very different ways—as a budding new star on the underground mix tape market scene, and as the lightning rod of controversy in a misunderstanding with superstar LL Cool J which led to a longstanding feud.
After inviting Canibus to appear on one of his “posse” tracks, “4321,” LL dissed him in an improvised rap on the track—all for making a seemingly harmless comment about a microphone tattoo on LL’s arm. Canibus was subsequently cut out of the song’s video, and the resulting firestorm simmered for years and changed the course of the young rapper’s budding career.
Now, ten years later–after a handful of indie releases, a year and a half as part of the U.S. Army’s Stryker Brigade and an intense amount of soul searching–Canibus is back with Def Con Zero, a revolutionary CD/DVD music and video package whose in your face, street savvy hardcore style harkens back to the days before he hit the mainstream with his MCA/Universal hit albums, Can-I-Bus (1998) and 2000 BC (Before Canibus), which came out in 2000.
“Livin,” the first single from Def Con Zero that offers a deep, heartfelt and biting take on today’s social issues relevant to the African-American experience, will soon ship to rap radio and music TV.
Def Con Zero marks Canibus’ debut recording for Head Trauma Records in association with First Kut, the rap subsidiary of Kent Entertainment, which also houses the blues label Kent Records. Joining a growing migration of the music industry from Los Angeles to dynamic Las Vegas , Kent Entertainment is owned by 48-year industry veteran, producer-manager Morey Alexander, the “Godfather of Gangsta Rap” who launched the careers of genre pioneers N.W.A., Easy-E, Mellow Man Ace, and Kid Frost.
Def Con Zero, whose hour-long DVD plays like a scripted visual album that illustrates what’s happening on the audio CD, features a handful of up-and-coming rappers that Canibus describes as “teachers”—Kool G Rap, K Solo, Free (from the BET show 106 & Park), Zookeepa, Tyrant, Barefisted, Halo Infinity and Power Move. Canibus rhymes on each track with longtime friend Phoenix Orion, a true vanguard of rap music. Def Con Zero was executive produced by Dewey “Black Cobra” Cooper, who was a top DJ before he became a world champion K-1 kickboxer.
Canibus explains that the title of the album is a term that describes a nation’s Defense Readiness Condition, very much appropriate in our post 9/11 world. In real life terms, the Zero indicates an imminent nuclear, biological or chemical danger, that something has been detonated.
“I’m implying that we as a society are very much at the end of our rope, at the edge of a cliff looking over,” he says. “There will be an after, but right now we’re on the edge. On the more personal and artistic side, Def Con Zero is my attempt to make an album for my fans that would remind them of the more hardcore, uncensored style of rap music I made before I made my first album for MCA.
“I spent my teen years learning my craft, how to rhyme and translate the information I was seeing and feeling into poetry,” Canibus adds. “The kinds of songs I wrote in my adolescent years, I mastered in my 20s. The album is mature, like my indie album Mic Club from a few years back, but reflects all of the life experiences I had in the army as part of the stryker brigade. The 19 tracks summarize all of my experiences.”
The fact that Canibus—who has sold over a million units throughout his career–was even invited by LL Cool J to be at the recording session for the track “4321” is testament to Canibus’ quick rise through the ranks of rappers to be reckoned with. He created a powerful buzz as one of the primary stars on the mix tape market scene, an underground movement in which visionary artists could market themselves on tapes featuring 20-30 songs, which allowed for an intense sense of artistic freedom.
Canibus’ success led not only to a deal with MCA/Universal, but also recording sessions with such high profile stars as Wyclef Jean and major tours such as the Smoking Groove Tour, which featured Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill and The Black Eyed Peas. His output since leaving MCA/Universal includes C True Hollywood Stories (2001), Mic Club The Curriculum (2002), and Rip The Jacker (2003). Another album also dropping in November 2005 contains older material that does not reflect the Canibus of today.
Now based in Las Vegas amid a fast growing rap community and recording industry, Canibus explains that “Def Con Zero shows once again my allegiance to and the integrity of my music…. What pleases me is that it falls in line with the technical strength and lyrical dexterity of my best work. The DVD is also the first of its kind for a rap project, so that’s exciting as well”