August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Like 50 Cent, Canibus won fame for dazzling freestyles and meticulous attack rhymes, dismantling opponents piecemeal. Unlike 50, his 1998 debut tanked: Biteless beats, puzzling mysticism, and masturbatory wordplay made him an indignant never-was. His rhymes are still high-flown and delivered with gruff scorn — but inane (”You are merely a descendant of the immodified”). As a below-the-belt battler, he had teeth. Here, he fashions himself a would-be scholar and just blows hot air.

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