However, the album received mixed reviews. The beats, created mostly by Wyclef Jean, were criticized for their blandness and unoriginality (with a fair amount of the criticism coming from Canibus), but lyrically, the album was praised. Tower Records referred to Canibus as “one of the most innovative new MCs in hip-hop. With Can-I-Bus, the debut album, Canibus delivers more of the battle-rhyme lyrics that are his stock in trade. Still, he manages to cover new ground with conceptually strong cuts like ‘I Honor U,’ which is dedicated to his mother. With his lyrical skills, Canibus represents the elements that helped build rap music.” The album was certified gold by the RIAA. The song “How We Roll” also appeared on the bonus 3rd disc of Eightball’s album Lost.
Can-I-Bus garnered mixed reviews from music critics who admired Canibus’ battle rap skills but felt exhaustive at times, along with subpar production and half-hearted attempts at different topics.
Hugo Lunny of MVRemix praised Canibus’ battle rhymes but felt that the production didn’t give them the necessary energy needed, highlighting “I Honor U” and “Channel Zero” for finding the right balance, concluding that “Overall, this is a good album, although anyone who’s heard Canibus on ‘Desperados’ or ‘Making A Name 4 Ourselves’ is likely to find the album a bit too over hyped. However, listen to the album with fair expectations, and you’ll enjoy it.” David Browne, writing for Entertainment Weekly, praised Canibus for being able to go beyond the battle rapper image and show versatility in his topics but found the production a hindrance to his goal, concluding that “His devotion to the lyrical slam and to self-respect earmark Canibus as a contender, but it wouldn’t hurt him to learn a few things about record making–from, say, LL?” AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine found Canibus’ aggro delivery tiring at times no matter the beat or subject but still gave credit for remaining impactful, concluding that “Unfortunately, those moments only occur sporadically over the course of this overlong debut, but when they do happen, it’s easy to see what all the hype is about.”
Wall of Sound’s Oliver Wang felt that Wyclef Jean and Jerry Wonda’s pop-sounding production didn’t suit Canibus’ tight flow and dark lyricism and preferred Clark Kent, Salaam Remi and LG as being a perfect match for his content, saying that “Like his West Coast counterpart, Ras Kass, Canibus proves that his rhyme rep isn’t totally fabricated, but both artists blow their bets in trying to appeal to both underground and pop audiences.” Kevin Powell of Rolling Stone felt the album lacked more personal tracks and intellectual insight to clear up the lyrical venom found throughout, concluding that “In these smoke-filled last days of the 1990s, Canibus and Can-I-Bus are exactly what much of hip-hop has become: a lot of hype. Don’t believe it.” DJ Fatboy of RapReviews found the album a big disappointment, criticizing Canibus for trying to change his hardcore lyricist image in order to appeal to a mainstream audience, saying that “It’s as if he’s embarrassed to be known as a battle rapper. What’s wrong with that? Sure, it’s a one note performance, but if he can play that one note better than all the other herbs out there, then he shouldn’t waste his time and ours by switching up to a style he can’t rock.”
#Title Producer(s) Length
1″Intro”Canibus, Wyclef Jean, Jerry Wonda (co-producer)1:08
2″Patriots”Canibus (co-producer), Danny & Cyrus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda3:03
3″Get Retarded”Canibus (co-producer), Salaam Remi4:07
4″Negronometry”Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda, LG3:12
5″Second Round K.O.“Canibus (co-producer), Wyclef Jean, Jerry Wonda4:37
6″What’s Going On”Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda, LG3:51
7″I Honor U” (featuring Jenny Fujita)Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda, Wyclef Jean4:34
8″Hype-nitis”Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda, Joe Servilus (co-producer)3:47
9″How We Roll” (featuring Panama P.I.)Clark Kent3:45
10″Channel Zero”Canibus (co-producer), Clark Kent4:29
11″Let’s Ride”A Kid Called Roots, Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda3:57
12″Buckingham Palace”Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda, Wyclef Jean3:41
13″Rip Rock”Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda, Wyclef Jean3:49
14″How Come” (feat. Youssou N’Dour)
(present on some releases)Canibus (co-producer), Jerry Wonda, Wyclef Jean4:
- “After The Dance” by Marvin Gaye
- “Christy” by L.A. Boppers
- “Brother’s Gotta Work It Out” by Willie Hutch
“Second Recond K.O.“
“How We Roll“
- “Something for Nothing” by MFSB
- “Christo Redentor” by Ferrante & Teicher
- “You and I” by Goodie
- “Streets of Cairo of the Poor Little Country Maid” by Sol Bloom
“What’s Goin’ On“
- “Interlude #2” by Bobby Womack
- “Big Poppa” by The Notorious B.I.G.
- “Live Nigga Rap” by Nas feat. Mobb Deep
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