The first thing listeners hear on Fait Accompli, the 15th studio album from veteran rapper Canibus, is a sample of political rhetoric. The voices in the intro forecast a terrible future as they point their fingers at the evils of today’s world: capitalist vultures, North Korean labor camps, a government that uses the constitution as toilet paper, and an ever-present Illuminati. These voice snippets, frequently smothered by a corny echo effect and an overwhelming sense of self-importance, tell the tale of a society on the precipice of collapse.
Unfortunately, this prophetic opener actually predicts two dark futures. The first is the intended message; The Devil is all around us, and he’s going to torment this nation until the demons destroy it. The second is the hidden message; The obnoxious voice samples are on every song, and they’re going to torment this record until the listeners turn it off.
This isn’t an exaggeration. Every single track of Fait Accompli (with one exception) begins with a rant. Used in moderation these preachy sound bites could have been tasteful set dressing, but shoving them in the spotlight at every opportunity turns them into a gaudy distraction. There’s something to be said for an album that says something, but this record leans on third-party commentators so heavily that Canibus himself ends up saying less than they do.
When Canibus does speak, he talks a lot like the samples that precede him. There’s a fiery indignation in his cadence that puts power behind every word. He raps with the same ferocity as the preachers condemning the roots of evil, and the conviction in his voice rivals that of the pundits making their thoughts heard on the interludes. There’s a reason he has managed to hold on to his career for so long—he’s a dedicated, determined MC who pours oceans of energy into every syllable.
Electrifying delivery does not guarantee perfect verses, however, and the lyrical content of Canibus’s bars doesn’t measure up to his big talking. The biggest flaw here is the lack of concrete evidence to back up the controversial opinions on display. The album dedicates a lot of time to storytelling, but it leaves the details of the yarn painfully vague. In an era where political corruption scandals rear their head monthly, Canibus often forgoes referencing specific incidents in favor of tossing scary buzzwords about like an illuminati-fearing Glenn Beck. This album isn’t going to convert anyone who isn’t already convinced of the New World Order, but it might teach them a few hundred synonyms for “Lucifer.”
As far as beats go, LP Beats’s instrumentals are neither divine masterpieces nor hellish abominations. Song structures take inspiration from old-school style, as in a beat will select a single motif and repeat it throughout the duration of the song, serving more as a soap box upon which Canibus can stand than as a musical composition that stands on its own. This classic pattern of hip-hop structure has proven its worth on some of the genre’s greatest hits, but it only works if the repeated sounds are up to the task. Sadly, the beats of Fait Accompli, while serviceable, fail to match the aggressive atmosphere of the narrative.
This is exemplified on the title track, which aims to kick off the album with indignation but is held back by an instrumental that refuses to hold its fist in the air as defiantly as the rapper on top of it. Its lead growls more than it roars, its drums slap more than they knock, and its repetition of the word “Luciferian” would rather waste 45 seconds and disappear than contribute to the beat. A few songs are also plagued with obvious clichés, such as military-style snare drums backing the angry speeches. Despite all of this, the instrumental package is consistently competent, with a few small victories like the surging vibe of “The Future” or the chilled routine of “Historic.”
Fait Accompli may have decent beats and an explosive MC on its side, but the music is being held hostage by the message. Integrating an eye-opening moral into a piece of art is a challenging task that presents a lot of difficulties, but Canibus’s slapdash solution to these problems is sloppily packing exposition into the introduction of every song. There’s fantastic ambition here that’s dragged down at every turn by the overwhelmingly vague lyricism and underwhelmingly tame instrumentals. It’s a scattered collection of lyrical diamonds buried in the massive rough of undeveloped ideas and overbearing rhetoric. In an album about sin, the biggest sin of them all is that the music isn’t allowed to do the talking.