Canibus and Webb (C.I.) – T.H.E.M.

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As a follow up to our Canibus – Best of 97-2000, let’s take it back to before the rapper hit the city like a comet. Canibus Sateevuh and Webb (Later C.entral I.ntelligence), 2 New York transplants studying in Atlanta, formed to create T.H.E.M. (The Heralds of Extreme Metaphors) and put together a demo. A nice slice of mid-90s underground rap, it features references to Bad Boy, Death Row and Wu Tang Clan over rugged, dusty break loops and heavy drums. The rhymes are metaphor driven and a worthy insight into the origins of Canibus’ scientific style. In fact some of the raps on here would be recycled in later famous freestyles, including “Blow up the planet with No Fear/Like them clothes white boys be wearing” and “rip your skin off just to get on your nerves.” “No Doubt” carries almost all of Canibus’ verse from “Fantastic Four” (“Who the hell wanna battle/the ill mathematical”) while Track 7 has an odd ode to Sprite, not terribly unlike Biggie’s Pepsi commercial.

With tape in hand, the duo traveled up and down the eastern seaboard networking at shows and performing on open mics. Outside a Buffalo venue, they sparked a cipher with RZA and his Wu Tang Clan. The urban tale depicts Canibus out-rhyming all Clan members present before future HRSMN collaborator Killah Priest stole the show. The demo might not have gotten Canibus a deal with the Wu, but it did catch the attention of Charles Suitt, manager of the Lost Boyz. Suitt promptly signed him to Group Home Management and began featuring ‘Bis on Lost Boyz tracks before using the ensuing buzz to negotiate a two album deal with Universal. Unfortunately for Webb, this meant the end of T.H.E.M. and for those of us that liked the group’s dynamic, we’ll have to make due with the demo. Point blank – if you were feeling the 97-2000 comp, you’ll love the throwback rawness of this.

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