by Sam Robinson
Atlanta artist Canon is not one to sit back and rest on his laurels. He’s just dropped his wild new EP, Loose Canon Vol. 2 (review here) just one year after his debut album Mad Haven released, and it appears he’s still got plenty to say. I recently spoke with Canon to talk about the stories behind this new release, as well as his faith, duckies, and hanging out in spooky abandoned prisons.
SAM: How you doing, Canon?
CANON: I’m good man, I’m good. How you doin’?
Doing well. Where in the world do I find you today?
Man, right now I’m in Atlanta, Georgia. ATL. That’s where I dwell at the moment. Originally from Chicago. Spent some time in Memphis, Tennessee and right now I live in ATL.
Right now you’re gearing up for the release of Loose Canon Vol. 2, are you stoked to have it out there?
Yeah man, I worked hard on it. It was a long time coming. Loose Canon Vol. 2, we’ve been working on that for almost eight months. Just to get the sound right, just to get the lyrics right, just to get the feel right, it’s so much. It don’t stop here. We got plans for more. I’m excited man. I get to sit back and see the results and see what happens.
I’m keen to know why Vol. 2? Do you see this as a natural sequel to the previous Loose Canon?
Of course! That’s the plan! The whole goal is to be able to make some sort of sequel, a continuation of something, and part of that was Loose Canon. Man, Loose Canon is a shotgun version of where I’m at in life right now. It’s like an edgy, honest, explosive view of what I am either dealing with or what I am seeing happen in the world, and it’s my take on that. Whether it’s a personal intake or whether it’s someone else’s that I’ve seen. It’s me. It’s my heart. It’s my personality. It’s everything that you’re getting from me about where I’m at right now. But more on a public scale, not so much on a personal personal scale. More of a platform scale – my response to what’s going on in the world.
So do you feel like when Vol. 3, 4, 5 come out that they will be a reflection of who you are at that time?
Yeah man. And you’ll get a more mature version of me. A more mature sound. More mature perspectives. Just all the way around. It might be more edgy, it might be more explosive, but whatever what it is, it won’t be the exact same as the one prior to it. If you listen to Loose Canon Vol. 2, you’ll see it’s not the same feel as Vol. 1, although I got my turn up! There’s a little bit more of a serious tone on this one, and it’s a little more content driven. Gets a little bit more personal too.
Last year you dropped your first album Mad Haven, this year is Loose Canon Vol. 2. In between you featured on Andy Mineo’s Paganini with KB. Did you enjoy letting loose with those guys on that track?
Of course! Those are my brothers and there’s nothing more fun getting on a track with individuals that you think might out-rap you or show you up in your own talent.
And that’s what that song’s about!
Yeah man. It’s like, ‘Yo, I gotta come on my A-Game with this cos y’all might eat me alive!’ When you feel that kind of challenge it makes it fun. You’re not gonna let someone necessarily outdo you. Y’know. You gotta be like, ‘Nah! I got you! I got you! Whatever you bring, Imma one-up you’. We had a lot of fun on that track.
On that track and on this EP you show your signature flow which is so rapid. How do you keep the pace up?
It’s always kinda been in me. I’ll put it like this. I grew up in a church and at the same time played in a band. My brother was the drummer and I always stuck to his tempos and cadences. When you hear a drummer, listen to the hi-hat. Listen to the rhythm of the hi-hat. If you can follow or rap the rhythm of a hi-hat, then you can do exactly what I’ve done for so long. I’ve been a fan of the rhythm of the hi-hats and the snares and the kicks and all that other stuff but if you can keep up with the hi-hat you can keep up with me! I’ve been doing twisting and stuff for a while. It’s a gift, something God has put in me.
Where did you record Loose Canon Vol. 2?
Man I record all my EPs in my closet! Every last song, track, album, EP, mixtape in my closet. Everything. In my bedroom closet.
How big is this closet?! A walk-in wardrobe?
Man, it’s big enough to fit two or three people in there. Before I did it in my closet I did it in my bedroom. I had to do some massive EQ settings to make sure you couldn’t hear any outside noises or anything like that. Yeah man, we get creative around here. We don’t have multi-million dollar studios around here. [Laughs]
Well with the sound on the record, you can’t tell it was recorded in a closet.
Man that’s because you have great mixers and great people who do mastering! I’m telling you! Great engineers. They work magic.
Let’s talk some of the tracks on this EP. The first one I want to discuss is Trippen. It might be my Australian ears, but are you rapping about duckies?
[Laughs] No! No, no. I’m saying ‘Go and act a donkey on you’. Act crazy on them. So the thing is that we trippen! We trippen throughout the whole song. Out of all the songs on the EP this probably has the least amount of content hands-down. Why? Because we trippen. And when you’re trippen with your friends and going crazy with your friends, you’re probably not talking about nothing. That’s why I wrote this song. I was trippen with my homies and just having fun, saying a whole bunch of crazy stuff. That’s the thought behind it. It’s OK to have some fun. It’s kinda like the same thing with Loud Music that I did with Derek Minor. You just gotta have some fun. Imma give you the serious but every now and again you gotta have some fun too. I feel like God has a very good sense of humour.
So donkeys, not duckies.
Donkeys, not duckies! But if you want to say duckies, be my guest.
I was confused because of the ‘waa’ part on that hook.
Ah! This is how crazy the song is. That part in the background, I’m not saying words. I’m just saying ‘aaa… ah!’ Not even words. I’m trippen! I’m trippen in my closet. Having fun with friends in the booth, saying random stuff and laughing about it later.
Now the video for that song looks like a party in itself. I’m keen to know who’s in the gorilla suit?
[Laughs] Can’t tell you! Can’t tell you!
Everybody always wants to know who’s in the gorilla suit! That was in Loud Music, and people wanted to know then too. Of course they know, I’m not going to tell them because it ain’t none of their business! But yeah – hope kept secret. I can’t tell. Sorry.
I’ll try and get another exclusive from you then. Now the song Motivation, what’s the story behind that one?
That was just a song based upon: ‘What are we motivated by?’ As I continue to do music and link arms with other brothers and by God’s grace get new opportunities, I’ve been able to think through what is motivating me to walk through these opportunities. What is motivating me to build these relationships. What is motivating me to fight to continue to work on my craft harder and harder and harder. And sometimes I want to see the culture change and people to know God and be saved. Most of all, that is the motivation. But in the same sense on an artistic level there’s a whole other motivation as well. Sometimes that’s competitive, artistic. I want to prove that I can be just as dope as an artist or producer as anybody else. Man, I want to show the world who God is, but also through dope talent. So there’s a lot of different things that stir into that motivation, as long as it’s not idolatry then I feel like we’re in a good place. When you’re living to please man rather than please God then that’s when your motivation becomes an idol. Even in the third verse on the extended version I say some things that’s probably going to perk some ears up but I’m saying those things because that is what is motivating me to fight harder and harder and harder in my craft. Sometimes people got doubt and sometimes people don’t believe we can do what we’re called to do. But we are all, ‘We gonna prove you all wrong!’ We’re going to get better, the whole nine. So when it comes to all of that, just watch. It’s coming.
Have you found your motivations a struggle? Do you have to keep yourself in check?
Yeah! Of course yeah. When I put out a project I have to ask myself why I’m putting it out. To get numbers? To get notoriety? To get famous? To get my name out there? I really want to change the world. I want the world to see God. But in order to do that on a larger level you’ve got to realise the world ain’t in this little box that we live in. The world lives outside this box too. I gotta work out how to get outside this box we’re living in, and pursue the rest of the world that we don’t really have a tangible reach to. That means I gotta do things with excellence. I’d love for people at the end of the day to put my CD next to Lil Wayne or Drake or Kanye and say, ‘I don’t know who this dude is but I just found out he’s a Christian and trying to figure out how he got here…’ But I need to put up content and a product that’s just as good to compete with whatever else that’s out there. It has to be dope, tight or they won’t listen to it. They’ll write it off. So some of the motivation is to make dope content, the whole nine.
And one of the songs on here that is completely dope is Put Me On. Derek Minor is on it. How did that come together?
I was given a really dope track and I sent that mug to Reconcile and I asked him for a gritty, gutter, southern twang on that song. I gave him the freedom to write a hook and a verse. So he sent it back to me and it had a southern New Orleans feel to the song and he murdered that joint. He killed it. I’ll be honest, it was so good that it took me a long time to write a verse to that song. I didn’t know how to compete with Reconcile on it. I fed off his verse, and Derek fed off of mine. We incorporated a lot of southern influences we had growing up on that joint. We paid homage a little bit to the people we respected growing up. That’s how that song came about. Derek ended it off giving homage to so many influences beyond New Orleans, he went to Texas, ATL, Memphis…
That’s cool! And there’s so many producers on this EP. Why work with so many? Is that just part of the Loose Canon vision?
Nah, not really. I’ll put it like this: when you look at producers vs features. My goal is not just to get me to where I want to go in my own career, but at the same time put people in the place where they can get to where I’m at too. I wanna put people on. So there’s probably producers and artists on my project that you never, ever heard of. That’s because I wanna get names out there, people who I really believe in with character and talent that I really believe in. I’m a fan of these individuals. Just because they don’t got a really big name doesn’t mean I won’t use them! For this project in particular I wanted to use the family, people that I’m close to, that I love. So when it comes to the production, it just became a handful of individuals that I really wanted to work with. That’s not to say there are individuals that I didn’t want to work with, because some of those who I do want to work with will be on the new album. I only made eight songs on here, I had to limit myself to eight producers if that. There’s others I can’t wait to work with on this next upcoming album. These brothers are sending me some hard stuff. I’m a fan of these producers and I wanna make dope music with ’em.
And you produced a few tracks yourself as well!
Yeah man, I produced Motivation, I produced Reach Into the Night. TJ did some work on that as well, on the chorus. And I co-produced a lot of tracks but I wasn’t looking to get myself a lot of credit. At the end I wanted the producer to get that, especially if people don’t really know them. But yeah, I’ve been a producer for a while but I’m an artist. I don’t have all that much time to produce beats like I used to.
Now on the EP cover and also in the Trippen music video, you’re covered in paint. UV paint perhaps. Did you glow for days?
Nah! One shoot was the photo shoot with the paint – that’s how I got the cover. The second shoot was the video shoot for Trippen. So I had to get covered in paint for two separate days and whatnot. The second day was a lot more gross than the first day. [Laughs] I was outside and it was really hot. It was at night and at a dark, dark, abandoned prison. We recorded that mug in it. All the graffiti you saw, that was in a prison that was burnt down in Georgia. The place was super creepy, bro. Like the haunted house of years ago. Dungeons, cells, you see ash. Place is burnt up, rusted, prison doors, and dark walls, graffiti and trash everywhere. That mug was creepy! I’d never go back. But I remember when I recorded that it was so hot that the paint was coming down my eyes. I couldn’t see. It was dripping. The first shoot was cool, it was in air conditioning!
How do you end up in an abandoned prison?
Man, when you workin’, you just go for it! […] You might go from shooting on a yacht to the top of a building. You do anything to get that dope shot. We just ended up in an abandoned prison this time.
I love the story on the song Reach Into the Night. I know it’s only a bonus track but it’s a party tune. On it you talk about yourself and Jesus. As you have this gift of rapping and the ability to share the gospel in your music, do you see that as an immense privilege?
Heck yeah, man! It’s a privilege because God hasn’t given everybody the opportunity to vocalise their faith through music or through beats and rhymes or through lyrics or poetry. Not everybody has that ability. For me to actually be able to say what I mean and mean what I say with rhymes and cadences and metaphors, and through that people are able to receive and understand what I’m saying as if I was not rapping at all, that’s amazing! They’re not getting caught up in all the metaphors and not getting caught up in the different tones and melodies, they’re staring right at the message. That’s unbelievable. A true privilege.
Now this Vol. 2 has only dropped a year after Mad Haven. These are quick releases. You’ve already talked about the next album. Can we expect another release from you in 2015?
Of course! Yeeees! [Laughs] You’ll definitely get more from me next year. It don’t stop here. I got a lot left in me. I’m just getting started, bro. I ain’t hit the surface yet bro. For real. I only got one album out. ‘Crae on his eleventh? Twelfth? I only got one! I’m just getting started, you’re going to have to get tired of me because I got a lot coming.
Well I look forward to getting tired of you then.
[Laughs] I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!
A good thing! Yeah, thanks so much for the chat Canon. Really great to talk to you.
Appreciate it man.