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“Method, where the gods at? Redman, where the squad at?
Yo L, is that a mic on your arm? Let me borrow that.”
It was the shot not heard around the world. On this day exactly twenty years ago, LL Cool J released the classic posse cut “4, 3, 2, 1” featuring hip hop greats Method Man, Redman, Canibus and DMX. Noticeably omitted from the record, however, is Canibus’ original verse which contained the subtle jab found above, and can be heard in its full entirety below:
What resulted after the release of “4,3,2,1” is arguably one of the greatest lyrical battles in modern hip hop history.
During an episode of N.O.R.E.’s popular podcast Drink Champs, LL Cool J stated that Canibus approached L and asked him about his tattoo. Canibus wanted to get a similar tattoo to the one of a microphone tatted on Uncle L’s arm. L responded with ‘Nah homie. You gotta get your own.’ Unfortunately, this led to the slight jab heard on Canibus’ original version of “4,3,2,1” and would eventually culminate in the vicious exchange between the two emcees.
When LL Cool J first heard Canibus’ verse, he was not happy. ‘I just did not understand. I couldn’t understand it. I blacked. That was it.’
LL forced Canibus to change up his lyrics to the verse and then dedicated his verse in the song to respond to Canibus’ slight. Canibus would strike back with the battle rap song “Second Round K.O.” which featured a cameo from boxing champion Mike Tyson.
Uncle L would then counter with “The Ripper Strikes Back” which delivered the vicious clap back line:
Ask Canibus, he ain’t understandin’ this
Cause ninety-nine percent of his fans, don’t exist
So which rapper do you guys think won the battle? Either way, it was a great moment for hip hop and definitely helped revitalize Uncle L’s career.