The 25-year-old rapper is poised for a new phase in his career, having signed with U.K.-based label New Dawn Records, an affiliate of Universal Music Group. Kannon’s latest album, “Cautionary Tales,” released digitally October 20, proves he’s worthy of the new attention he’s received.
With a slight rasp in his throat, Kannon spits with a relaxed cadence and clear delivery. The album’s first words, on the track “Pitfalls,” depict an artist facing marginalization from all sides: “Too Black for the whites, too white for the Blacks/ You be codeswitchin’ dependin’ on how you be around, your tone different."
Kannon engages in the obligatory braggadocio, but it comes off as calm confidence, as he asserts later in the song, “Can’t have too much pride not to learn from mistakes.”
Producer Frost Gamble’s arrangements are minimalist, but effective. His boom-bap beats frequently rely on hooks consisting of only two or three notes. The hypnotizing track “Lazy Eye” wins additional points for its unexpected use of a guitar fragment akin to The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The track “Take It Easy” boasts ’70s swagger.
A recurring theme in the album is Kannon’s resilience, despite a life lived in and around addiction — as heard on the tracks “Pitfalls” and “Lazy Eye" — and his eventual transcendence over his circumstances on “Long Ride.” Kannon’s flow is consistently formidable, and there are definitely inspired moments, as on “Cold Start."
“They never really wanted me to make it out so any time I faced an obstacle I had to make it count/ Why you twistin’ up your face to pout? I took a crazy route but I’m the hardest artist starvin’, I know they can vouch.”
The album closes with “Thousand People,” on which Kannon gets introspective and unapologetic. “Touch topics on the mic that change my quality of life/ These promoters say I’m cocky/ I don’t knock it as a slight/ They still pay the price if they want me for the night.”
Anthony Kannon will play an album release show for “Cautionary Tales” on Saturday, November 18 at Deep Dive in Ithaca. Doors open at 8 p.m., music starts at 9 p.m. Ages 18+. Tickets $12-$40. deepdiveithaca.com
Daniel J. Kushner is an arts writer at CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].