Anthony Kannon has consistently been a stand out artist from the upstate New York area. Whether it be dropping solo content such as 'Color Blind' that appeals directly to the lyrical New York rap fan. Or releasing a collaborative project with fellow upstate artist Meech Booker that has a more mainstream appeal to it. Anthony Kannon has seemingly always delivered quality content to his fans. While 2020 looked like it was poised to be a breakout year for Kannon as he was set to go on his first official tour the pandemic hit and he had to find different ways to keep moving as a creative.
"It was hard this year. After my tour got cancelled; I had to figure out a way to continue trending upwards. I had to change my whole plan of attack; adjusting, but I can't complain, because everybody had to make their own sacrifices. I decided to let go of some older music that had been collecting dust, which was a great way to reward some of my most consistent supporters. I started hosting this podcast called: 'The Cypher' w/ Upstate Aesthetic. That has kept me active in the music community on a week-to-week basis, providing content for anybody tuning in."
Though his 2020 was filled with a number of setbacks due to the covid-19 pandemic he didn't allow that to deter him from creating new content.
"What I am most proud of; has to be the amount of work I've been able to accomplish since March. I have recorded over 100 songs since the pandemic has started, which has granted me a nice amount of freedom moving forward. Now, I get to focus on the business side a little bit more-and come up with goal-based strategies around what's to come. Benchmarks I want to hit, Ideas I want to bring into fruition, new promotional efforts that I want to try, etc."
While we didn't see the official release of an Anthony Kannon project in 2020, the artist consistently released new material for his fans while continuing to work behind the scenes. Going into the new year Kannon looks to waste no time on releasing a full length project as he is gearing up to release 'Saint Kannon' on January 27th. The project is a collaborative effort with Ithaca producer Saint Kid who has been on a roll himself over the last few years both as a producer and an artist. Kannon was early on the Saint Kid wave working with the young producer early on.
"Funny story. Saint used to always reach out trying to work with me. He was sending beat packs, and we were getting acclimated with each other; trying to build some chemistry. I was hesitant, he might've been 14 at the time. We made a bunch of singles, like: 'Goof Troop', and some others that never officially released. I knew he was good.. but I saw so much raw potential. He was just getting his feet wet in an artistic sense, and dropping his own music as well. People barely knew him as a producer, even though that was my introduction to him."
While they had worked together on a number of tracks it took some time for the relationship to build to a point where the two would come together to work on a full project. First they would collaborate on a concert event that would prove to be a success for both artists.
"After months of sending stuff back and fourth, working on singles, talking/planning.. SAINT KID started hitting his stride. Every beat seemed more complex; we had built a natural chemistry, and perhaps the most important part-I saw how genuinely focused and driven he was. Everything slowly was falling into place. I was working with a lot of producers at the time, but something in my head told me to buckle down with Saint, and start conducting your next project. We threw a show in October 2019, where 300+ people attended; making it one of the most successful local (hip-hop) shows thrown by people our age in Ithaca's history. That was a pivotal moment in this whole process."
Following this event the relationship was able to grow and the chemistry was there. The two would begin collaborating more often and eventually Kannon would approach Saint Kid about working on a full length project together.
"Between the respect we had each individually garnered in our own careers, paired with success of that show, combined with the quality of the few tracks we had already made; I took it upon myself to ask Saint what he thought about a project. The name 'Saint Kannon' came to me so naturally. I try not to force ideas/names for projects or songs; but this was a no-brainer. He was absolutely down for the idea. Since then, he has sent me over 100 beats. I have written to over 70, and recorded to over 45 of them. We have been working on this installment series for over a year now; the growth and maturation that Saint exhibits on a daily basis is astounding. It's humbling to watch him grow. I genuinely believe that he is a future millionaire, and the only thing that can get in his way-is himself. If he stays determined and level-headed, he will become the natural born star that he was meant to be."
This collaboration between Kannon and Saint Kid has shown positive growth for both artists and looks to be a great relationship overall. Kannon's growth doesn't stop within the artistry as the young rapper made a decision to release his project for preorder via bandcamp to give fans an opportunity to support and listen early. This decision shows not only a confidence in the quality of product Kannon is releasing but a growth as an artist to recognize the business aspect of it as well. Over the years Kannon has watched as other independent artists effectively turn their art into a business and utilized some of the stuff he's learned along the way to help with his latest release 'Saint Kannon'
"I have been studying what some of the most successful (independent) musical pioneers have done with their careers. Two examples that really inspired me, are both artists that have unfortunately passed away: Prince, and Nipsey Hussle. While they were alive, they both carried on the idea of musical proprietorship; owning everything, and maximizing the amount of revenue that you can bring back for a product. Prince made millions after becoming independent, selling a CD that you could only purchase through his website. He made 95% of all the money generated from that, because he wasn't signed to a major at the time. It was all his. Nipsey sold CD's for $50, sometimes $100+. This was for hardcore fans and supporters. He sold out every single time. If you sell 100 CD's for $100, that's $10,000. One time, Jay-Z actually purchased 50 when he heard about it; he respected the move. Entrepreneurship."
This move into an entrepreneurship role for Kannon is almost a natural fit. He recognizes not only can he have an idea but also created a plan to make sure it could come to fruition in the best ways possible. Taking the steps in the right direction and taking a bit of a risk Kannon decided to place his latest project 'Saint Kannon' on Bandcamp for pre-order purchase.
"In order to do something like that, you need a couple things: First, is a quality product and a demand. You need something people want badly enough to spend money on. Secondly, you need confidence. You need to believe in yourself, and believe in your brand. At the end of the day, you're selling something to a consumer; they have to know its 'worth it', and you do as well. Thirdly, you need a platform to distribute-or a way that you will get your product out there to the masses. For me, this was Bandcamp."
The decision to utilize Bandcamp makes sense especially after seeing the effect the platform can have on independent artists and how they can monetize their content. This is just the first step for Kannon as he tests the waters before hopefully making the transition to releasing exclusive content via his own personal platform.
"I have been in the middle of creating and launching my own site for a while now. One of my ideas that I've been trying to bring to light, is having my own platform-that I can exclusively release certain music on. Stuff that will never come to streaming services, and you have to purchase directly from my site if you want to hear. Doing this release on Bandcamp was a way that I can (somewhat) test the waters for that idea, without having to wait until my website is fully finished. Now, I have gathered a decent amount of money for promotion-while getting a taste of what can really be done using a method like this on a grander scale."
It's no surprise fans are jumping on the opportunity to support Kannon's latest release and catch an early listen, Upstate Aesthetic was quick to do the same. Having had an opportunity to listen early we can assure the project does not disappoint however you don't just have to take our word for it. The project has already gotten stellar reviews from those who have made a purchase early as they couldn't wait for the official release.
"So far, the reception has been great. I haven't had any complaints or reservations, even though I'm sure people might have them. Some early favorites based off first impression have been: 'Bobblehead', the intro 'Note 2 Self', and 'Team Summer'. Luckily, I haven't heard a single person compare it to Color Blind or BLUR. I don't really think this project is comparable to either. You can try to make a case, you can say your preference; but when it comes to any these projects, all 3 are so different from each other-its hard to hold them on the same scale. People will have their opinions regardless; I just look forward to hearing more of what they think, and I hope they continue to enjoy it."
While fans and critics have begun listening early by way of pre-order Kannon has been working on music videos to release following the projects official drop on January 27th. Kannon has worked particularly hard on making sure he has quality visuals to accompany the content he plans to release. Over the past year Kannon's visuals have grown in quality and 2021 looks to be a continuation of that.
"I don't want to give a particular number away just yet. I want to drop more visuals than ever this year though; at least doubling the amount that I have out-before 2022. I have 2 videos ready to go right now, and I am shooting more and more by the week/month. Like you mentioned, everything is more calculated now. I need to have visuals to match most of these songs slated for release!"
The calculated approach as well as Kannon's knack for networking has created the perfect storm for Kannon to network with other videographers in the area growing his visual catalog in the process. While Kannon has a history of shooting previously with Niko Neferis and other videographers his relationship with Zakhi Schar has been one of the most notable. Especially in 2020 as Kannon was ready to bring Schar on tour to shoot some visuals prior to the cancellation. However as Schar continues to network and grow as does Kannon it creates an opportunity for Kannon to work with other well known local videographers as well.
"I've been heavily working with Zakhi (Schar Studios). He directed both that I have ready to go. However, I am working with Trigg The Ruler this month; a director from Syracuse most-known for being Scorey's videographer. I plan to work with Cobi Byrne this year; who directed: 'Nightfall', Mr. McBean's only video to-date; which I personally think is the best video I've seen from this area. I'm excited!"
Visuals aren't all Kannon has planned for this release. Fans have been asking and he has been patiently working to have something quality created and in the coming months fans should be able to expect some official Anthony Kannon merchandise coming.
"I'm currently working on some ways to provide people with some merchandise to go along with the music. Hopefully I will be able to offer somewhat of a bundle; with a clothing item, a physical piece of music, and a novelty item like a sticker of some sort. I'm hoping I can get the beginning order of merchandise by the end of January, but wouldn't be surprised if its February/March when I decide to actually release everything. I will have new gear and items that are available soon though, for anybody looking to support the movement!"
Keep an eye out for the release of some Anthony Kannon merch in the coming months and be sure to go pre-order the album today for the early listen! You can also stream the album on all DSP's on Wednesday January 27th.