Canibus recently gave insight to a lyric from his LL Cool J diss record “Second Round K.O.” that has given fans cause to pause for quite some time.
In one couplet during the song’s second verse, the Jamaican rap artist gloats about his rhyme skills being superior to the Queens legend’s, in spite of the disparity between their bank accounts. “Well, lemme tell you somethin’, you might got more cash than me/ But you ain’t got the skills to eat a ni**a’s ass like me!” Canibus barks on the classic single, which was released in 1998 and produced by Jerry Duplessis and Wyclef Jean.
With slang having evolved in the quarter century since the track first dropped, many listeners have misinterpreted the meaning of the lyrics, attributing them as being a boast about his sexual exploits. The infamous battle rapper cleared the air during an appearance on the Outside With Gorilla NEMS show, giving context to the lyrics in light of the various annotations those particular lines have inspired over the years.
“Hey, that’s not what it meant back then!” he said when asked to explain the reasoning behind the rhyme. “That’s how old we are. What it is now is you see that type of stuff in the comments section on a website and you can’t do anything about it. I look at it and I’m like, ‘Why did I say that?’ because of how it is. But I know why I said it back then. The comment section is just…yellow tape.”
Canibus’ feud with LL resulted in one of the most epic rhyme-wars of its era, with the veteran responding to LL’s jabs on “4321” with “Second Round K.O.,” which was accompanied by a music video featuring a cameo from heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson. LL would return fire with his own diss record “The Ripper Strikes Back,” which saw the rap pioneer pointing to his adversary’s lack of commercial success, fame and other accolades.
Years after the height of their beef, the pair would have a full circle moment when LL welcomed Canibus to join him onstage during a live performance in New York City. The occasion is one the lyricist remembers fondly, as he detailed a candid interaction between the two prior to hitting the stage. “I came out to the Barclays to perform with him, right,” the MC began. “Hoodie jawn on and I’m sitting there and this n-gga got so much gold on him. I’m like, ‘Yo, you know what? I can’t go out there with you. I need one of them ropes.’ So nicely, I asked him. I said, ‘Yo I got an idea.’”
He then describes an intense stare-down between the two, which momentarily brought to mind their past bad blood. “We staring down. He staring up at me and I’m telling you what I’m saying in my mind. Basically it’s like, ‘Aw, here we go again.’ And he looked at me. I could see the whites of his eyes off the makeup on his cheek. That’s how I could see he was staring straight at me. And I was looking at him like he could read my mind, ‘If you don’t give me that chain!’ That’s what I was thinking. He said, ‘Yo, get Canibus the baby rope!’ That’s why y’all seen me come out with the baby rope!”
Watch Canibus’ appearance on Outside With Gorilla NEMS below.