It all started innocently enough.Hip-hop heavy hitter L.L. Cool J tapped up-and-comer Canibus to join Method Man and Redman in dropping a few lines on his single "4, 3, 2, 1."
"I was excited to do the record," Canibus told MTV News recently of his thoughts at the time.
However, the worm soon turned as L.L. was less than thrilled at the lyrics that Canibus laid down.
"We made a record," L.L. explained. "He had recorded something before I got there. When I arrived, I noticed that he had on one of the lyric sheets, 'L, is that a mic on your arm? Let me borrow that.'"
At first, L.L. retaliated on the following verse, but then hoped to re-work the song without the offending line.
"He told me the reference to the mic on his arm felt like I was trying to play him," Canibus recalled. "So I said, 'All right, I'll come down and change my verse.' And he said, 'All right, if you change your verse, I'll change mine.'"
But L.L. never
did change his verse, and when "4, 3, 2, 1" came out, Canibus received a lyrical surprise. L.L. raps, "Tearing every MC at the game/To play yourself out position and mention my name/I'll make a rhyme for every syllable in your name/Go platinum for every time you rhyme **** on a train/Watch your mouth, don't ever step out of line/L.L. Cool J is the greatest of all time."
And so began the latest in a rich tradition of lyrical battles in the world of rap, which L.L. himself has contributed to in the past by exchanging heated tracks with Ice-T and Kool Moe Dee.
"(Canibus) felt like he was disrespected even though he says, 'L.L. was supposed to change his verse,'" L.L. said. "But the reality is that I told him if you change that one point about the mic in your lyrics, no one will ever know that this is referencing you."
"I am disappointed in Mike," L.L. said. "Mike was my friend a long time ago. Mike was my friend before all those things started happening,
but you know, people part ways. People part company." With emotions running hot, and memories of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. still fresh, all the participants in this battle are mindful of tempering their anger with responsibility.
"When 'Roxanne' was out, and they were going at each other, everybody understood it was fun, but now in this post-era where guys have really passed away and been killed, it changed the complexion of the scene," L.L. noted.
Canibus' manager Wyclef added, "L.L. has disciples, I have disciples, Canibus has disciples, so for all the disciples (out there), we gonna strictly keep it on a lyrical content on wax." [822k Quicktime]
Despite the heated words, L.L. seemed optimistic that his feud with Canibus could bring back a day when skills were the true measure of a rapper."Maybe this can be a return to rap's innocence, you know," L.L. said.
"Maybe he made his
song about me, and I responded and said, 'Hey, back up with that.' And then maybe Wyclef'll make a song about me, and then I can see them at a party and be like, 'Whazup man?' and it's all good."