As we now move towards the spring and summer months where festivals, concerts and all-round performances find their peak, it’s definitely going to be quiet this time around as the coronavirus pandemic is something that has broken daily life out of nowhere, and directly affected not only events, but companies, organizations, schools, and people all over the world drastically. Keeping distances, staying home and isolation became the new normal, and many of us have to cope with Plan B’s. For recording artists, it’s a block to continue with their artistry. Not able to go to the studio and creating new music, shooting music videos, doing press or perform in venues. It’s an uncertain time where many rely on social media (doing home concerts through live streams) and try to keep bonding with their fanbase.
For Anthony Kannon, a rapper from Upstate New York (Ithaca to be exact), it’s no different as he also had to look for alternatives to keep his workflow going. For years Anthony blasts out rap content with sometimes dark but thoughtful lyrics about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and impressed his community with his 2018 debut LP ‘Color Blind’. A collaborative album ‘Blur’ followed right after in 2019 where he continued delivering fresh hip-hop content and visuals with Meech Booker, who’s also from his hometown Ithaca. In addition, Anthony’s singles like ‘Ghost’ or ‘LookAtMe’ define pure hip-hop with rhythmic sounds where he drops rap lines with an easy flow.
A cancelled tour in March, his first tour to be exact, didn’t slow him down as he quickly thought ahead of other possibilities to keep his artistry going, and quickly came up with a new concept idea. Named the “Spring Cleaning” series, Anthony plans to drop a new song every two weeks throughout the year, with tracks that vary from style and direction in music, continuing to release content for his fanbase during these isolated times.
Below, Anthony speaks with Richard from The Urban Twist about the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic for him and the music business in general, how he stays motivated, and what to expect of his upcoming music.
You were supposed to go on tour in March to open up for Billy Lyve in 5 states in the US, 6 shows in total. This was unfortunately cancelled due to the lockdown. How did the shutdown affect you as an artist?
Unfortunately, the shutdown has forced me to lose out on not only thousands of dollars, but priceless experiences. It was the first tour I was ever asked to be a part of. I know I will get another opportunity in the future, but it was hard coming to terms with the fact that it was actually over. We got two shows in, through our Connecticut leg of the tour; after that, all venues cancelled.
When the epidemic is over, do you think the music industry will go on how it used to be or will a lot change?
I think this will change the music industry forever; whether in a minor or major way. Rappers (and performers in general) are in a situation they’ve never been in before. Artists rely on live performances for income, it’s their largest source and the best way to maximize venue. This is causing some artists, like Lil Baby for example, to try and renegotiate contracts. Others, like Tory Lanez, have found ways to maintain relevancy; even increase their visibility from this.
Do rappers and artists in general help each other out during the quarantine?
On a local setting, yes. I can’t speak from the ins and outs of the industry, but my community in particular has been working together through this. Sharing fans, engaging through different fanbases, and even more than that. Blogs/news sources are doing their job too; one in particular has constructed a virtual concert with multiple heavyweights from my area. Shoutout “Upstate Aesthetic” and “607 Sound”, because they’re doing a lot for the underdogs of New York hip-hop right now.
On a positive note, does the lockdown help shaping new future ideas and concepts for your music as there’s now more time than ever?
Absolutely. I’ve had nothing but time to crystallize my ideas for new releases, singles and projects. I’ve been writing non-stop, and trying to figure out ways to maintain visibility from my bedroom. It’s a challenge, but something I’ve taken pride in tackling.
How do you motivate yourself to stay productive during these times?
I’ve had to keep the same mindset that I always have. I can’t let this negatively affect me anymore than it already has. For me personally, I haven’t lacked motivation in a long time; I pray I never feel complacent again.
What do you miss most that you can’t do during quarantine?
Honestly, normalcy. The freedom to come and go as I please. My father is high risk, so I’ve been hesitant to even go to his house due to the fact that I work an essential job and come in contact with random people daily. I miss my friends and my family. From a business perspective, I miss performing and networking (in person).
What’s the first thing you’d like to do when quarantine is over?
I will be living a relatively isolated life still once this is over. I think it will take a while after the shutdowns go away to really get back to a healthy environment. I look forward to going out of town; I’ve stayed in Ithaca basically the whole time this has been happening. I love traveling.
You decided to start a new series where you plan to release a song every two weeks, starting May 1st with your new track ‘Simple & Plain’. What can fans expect?
This will be my “Spring Cleaning” series. I plan to drop a song biweekly, in hopes to build a stronger relationship with my core fanbase and expand my reach. You can expect a different style, a different vibe, and dope lyrics every time. I’ve stockpiled music to the point where I could do this halfway through 2021 if I wanted to; we will see how long this lasts!
What else can fans expect from you this year? Maybe an album?
You can expect more content from me than ever before. I can’t shoot videos how I wanted to right now, so I will be backed up on those until this clears. However, I plan on releasing AT LEAST 1 project this year. These songs from the “Spring Cleaning” series will also be used to build hype for them. I have multiple projects basically finished, they just need touching up. I can’t wait to share the details for those.
For local artists like you, what’s the best advice to get more noticed?
You have to use all your available resources. The internet, social media, word of mouth, etc. I’ve found a lot of success in reaching out to other artists; going to shows out of town (even if you’re not performing), dropping captivating music videos, building relationships with blogs/artists/producers, especially in your community. The larger your platform, the more people you have rooting for you, the more successful you will be. People forget that every person in the world is a potential fan; you can’t rely on one specific area to uplift you. If you can’t tap into your local market, reevaluate why and keep trying! Try somewhere else! The second you stop trying is the moment you’re doomed.
Anthony’s “Spring Cleaning” Series started May 1st with his song ‘Simple & Plain‘ (produced by Kisses Beats). Every two weeks a new track will be released. The second release of the series, ‘Goof Troop‘, will drop on May 15th.