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Canibus
Melatonin Magik

Once upon a time in 1997 Germaine Williams AKA Canibus was a blooming Hip-Hop star that had the lyrical skills and big name backing to go straight to the top and beyond…Almost thirteen years, 7 albums, a service enlistment (and subsequent discharge) and a Spike Lee film role (Bamboozled) later we have the unexpected solid work that is Melatonin Magik, bis’s long awaited strong return to the scene.

For years his fans have clamored to receive a glimpse of that old Canibus; the raw, highly intellectual and artistically un-afraid emcee who could easily wind up a manic verse and make you forget all about a shotty beat. His debut and following Sophomore album provided a lot of that for his fans but since those times many have been left hanging. Frequently MIA and embroiled in sorted public squabbles throughout the 2K’s, the Jamaican born, former U.S. Department Of Justice Data Analyst, had all but permanently faded out of the consciousnesses of his former fans by 2005. Of course it didn’t help that he took some questionable shots at mainstream acceptance with albums like C True Hollywood Stories and Mic Club: The Curriculum, but one must honor their contracts I suppose.

Bis’s Career has cooled significantly, and I’ve no doubt that him going from the proverbial mountain top, back to a life of basic obscurity within Rap is one of the driving forces behind his new and best release in years. It’s with great angst, emotion and raw fervor that he delivers his lines on Melatonin Magik. It’s almost as if he’s finally letting go of all his feelings behind his trials and tribulations through the aughties. That wonderous skill that first vaulted him into the spotlight remains intact as he technically rips this album’s suiting beat lineup to shreds. He sounds more than hungry to make music again…A special moment is on the album’s title track where he goes in over a beat that sports the same sample that his former (and most famous perhaps) foe LL Cool J used against him on “The Ripper Strikes Back”. Bis doesn’t eclipse uncle L’s performance, but does a bang up job in his own right and shows right from the jump that he’s just not worried about going anywhere this time out.

Taking another calculated risk that only longtime fans will appreciate, Mr. Williams makes sure to include plenty of doomsday and govt. conspiracy theories interwoven in his commentary throughout the album. Usually a tired practice only reserved for nerdcore artists that bore you to sleep, wordy titles and even wordier subject matter that delves into far reaching paranoia is a frequent, yet welcomed theme actually. “Dead By Design”, “Only Slaves D.R.E.A.M.” and “The Danger Of Judah” most likely are the best examples of when he got that rambling, Ill Bill and Necro’esque stlye down pat, but the whole album is pretty much overrun with the stuff and unless you have a lot of stamina as a listener could put you off quickly. On the other hand, if your someone that watches the History Channel’s seemingly never ending stream of Alien, Ghost, Apocalypse and Bible Code programming, this will definitely be your kinda listening fodder.

While he stays on topic with a high volume of rhymes related to Aliens, mis-trust of the government and rants aimed at the un-balanced American media, Bis also takes time out to throw a few jabs at Eminem and KRS-One. These taunts come as somewhat of a surprise after the wordsmith calls for an end to rap beef just before, but hey that’s the unpredictability of Canibus.

Melotonin Magik finds this wiley old vet at an interesting crossroads in his career. It feels so much like he’s finally made the choice to make the majority of this LP and his future LP’s without concern of what people are expecting from him. To just craft his art completely from his own musings and interests and to just maybe, be in a creative space where he doesn’t have to worry about explaining his production, where he’s been living, why he dissed someone or whatever. There were more than a few mis-steps on this album, but somehow they didn’t bother me as much as they did back when Bis was chasing out what kind of artist he was gonna be and frequently coming up empty handed. For better or worse, this is Canibus. He’s the guy in the army coat hanging out by the bus stop passing out literature about how the govt. is trying to kill us all, reeking of weed and stopping anyone who’ll listen. Some might mistake him as a tragic figure doomed to never live in reality and far removed from his past glory/service to the country. Others, thankfully, will stop and hear him out…

$17 out of $20

-Dominick “BIG D O” Ledezma

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