June 18, 2014


Combatant Profile: Canibus' Dizaster

Eminem's Shady Films / watchLOUD.com
Eminem's Shady Films / watchLOUD.com

Ask any battle rap fan who the don of all circuits is and you’ll hear the name Dizaster. Hate him or love him, the Muslim rapper from L.A. who has drawn comparisons to Eminem has been hurting feelings across the globe for years now. He’s got a rabid way of rhyming, as if every gesticulation is a ferocious impulse, not a performance. He decapitated Swave Sevah and put DNA on the ropes (until that last round), but it was his battle against Canibus that made Dizaster an all-star.

At first, it seemed insurmountable. This is Canibus, the guy who went toe to toe with LL Cool J, who used to rip ciphers with Pun and DMX, who was considered by many to be the illest rapper breathing at one point. Diz was surely over his head. Yet, it was Canibus who was out of his element. He certainly sounded like a battle rapper in the booth, but when the cameras are on and the crowd is watching and all you have are some Men In Black shades to protect you from their stares, the sweat starts slowly trickling down your cheek.

Canibus learned that in the third round of his 2012 “KOTD Vendetta” battle against Dizaster. Everything was going smoothly—Diz fielded the usual “Arabic” jokes and Canibus had his unfortunate career shit on—until Dizaster honed in on the sling Canibus was wearing: “It makes sense that this motherfucker here has this stupid ass sling on/‘Cause he’s never been a good shoulder to lean on!”

The crowd went nuts as Diz became apoplectic. Things seemed…dismal (I had to) for Canibus as he took pause and, before starting the final round, made a surprise announcement: Dizaster had won. Jeers and nervous laughs whispered through the crowd as Canibus tried to explain that he still wanted to get his raps off, but what he did next is still dumbfounding to this day.

He turned to one of the members of his posse, who produced, inexplicably, a notebook? Canibus seemed genuinely hurt by the battle at this point and held up the notebook to extol the virtues of its contents (“It’s 30 pages of rhymes in this motherfucker!”). He admitted that he couldn’t remember all his bars. The crowd was stunned.

As if the whole thing wasn’t painful enough, Canibus had to interrupt his own final round to plead with the crowd to be quiet. He even argued with the judge to let him finish, but it was useless. Diz watched on with a satisfied eye.

‘Bus deserves credit for suffering through the humiliation and continuing to read out of his notebook, but there has never been anything as devastating as that during a rap battle, before or after.

Since that mockery, no one has heard from Canibus, while Dizaster has continued to climb the ranks of veteran battle rappers. When he competes on “Road to Total Slaughter,” it will be his first battle since he “quit” in January after losing to Pat Stay. You can’t take the fight out of a champion.

When we caught up with Diz, he told us he came up with that “sling” line against Canibus on the spot. “I knew that he knew he couldn’t write something like that, let alone freestyle something like that, so he knew he was outclassed,” he explained. “I was shocked [when he pulled out the notebook]. His boy didn’t even want to pass him the notepad, you could tell. He kept asking for it.

“The most important element of a battle is how direct you are to the person in front of you. How much you insult them,” Diz continued. “Not just bars of general shit. The most important thing is direct insults and [the ability to] hurt the guy’s feelings.”

But beyond subject matter, Dizaster has some choice words about the definition of a battle MC. 

“They should be able to freestyle or they’re not a real MC to me. That’s why Lux and Mook are nothing compared to what a real MC is. I’ll tell them that to their fucking face. They can’t pull shit out of thin air like KRS-One used to do. Melle Mel, Busy Bee, Kool Moe Dee. All these motherfuckers had the ability to sporadically tear people apart.”

Seems like Dizaster smells blood.

– Text by Max Weinstein, originally posted on WatchLOUD.com