Art is Perception
A Review By Fish
Album: Art is Perception
Artist: Anthony Kannon
Release Date: June 24th, 2022
Hip hop is the most listened to genre on Spotify, making up about 38 percent of streams. Something about it resonates with a large majority of music lovers. Maybe it is because of the steady beats. Or perhaps it is the rhyming schemes and rhythmic vocal delivery that catches our ears. It could even be the subject matter that is commonly found in hip hop, relating to drug culture and turf wars. (This is not all hip hop, but it is definitely a common thread in the genre). It’s safe to say that all of these points are true in commanding the attention of enthusiasts and casual listeners.
Art is Perception starts with “A Hustler’s Guide” where Kannon raps about being on top of the drug game and pushing massive amounts of cocaine or “onions” in slang. As I mentioned before, it is not uncommon in rap/hip hop to hear stories about getting caught up in the drug economy. At first, I was not sure if Kannon was embellishing his stories for the sake of adding a more dramatic experience for the listener. As I listen further, I am starting to feel this may be the case. It often happens in all genres of music: an artist will create a persona for themselves and write stories based on truth and exaggerate them. Things are never what they seem. I am reminded of the movie “Big Fish,” where stories based on truth are told in an exciting and over-the-top manner. The brilliance of this movie is in its ending, where you see that perhaps the stories were all true! I digress…
Whether or not Kannon was a kingpin in the cocaine market, the lyrics are a testament to Kannon’s understanding of the genre and his ability to write effective material.
After “A Hustler’s Guide” and “What Did I Pray For?” (both involving cautionary tales about working as a drug dealer), we come to what may be the hottest track on the record. I’m talking about “Rick Fox” featuring Trae Yates. The sick, hypnotic beat and the tight effortless flow delivered by Kannon and Yates make this track stand out. I hit the repeat button after hearing this track once, and then hit repeat again after the second time. This is the tune you play in the car to get the party started. This song contrasts the first two tracks, providing some lighthearted fare for the listener. The lyrics in the chorus help demonstrate this:
Swag by the ounce, I could sell it by the ziplock
Funny nigga think he got stripes, oh you Chris Rock
Closet full of kicks, on the strip wearing flip flops
I’ma trap this bitch out, make a pit stop
The poetic scheme is clever with its use of off rhymes, and the flow is fantastic that you cannot help but bob your head.
Another stand-out track is “Dope on the Scale.” The slower tempo groove bounces along as we hear a classical sounding violin, adding to the epic nature of the song. What makes “Dope on the Scale” so effective is how the form of the song fits with the mood. You can imagine Mr. Kannon contemplating his next move as he (or his character) repeats phrases such as “Same burner, just a new grip. I got life in the right, death in the left, you pick.” and “You broke I can tell, there’s hope I could sell. There’s money to be made, and dope on the scale.” Including repeated stanzas is quite effective in rap music. It hammers the point home and creates a meditative flow, similar to a mantra.
“He Who Works” closes out the project with a slow, melancholy vibe. Profound lyrics from this track are:
“He who works the least and makes the most is praised
But he who works the most’s a slave, I left the bench to coach the game”
There’s a lot to unpack here. Throughout the album, Kannon supplies his listeners with endless lyrics that require advanced study and interpretation. This is a sign of well-thought-out poetry.
Here’s another stanza:
“I hate the law, I lost my family to incarceration
Lost the patience to live life by the books so you call on satan
It all is mayhem, the fallen soldiers army blazing
Caught a body, he hit the target just at the wrong location”
Heavy lines right here. It’s hard for me to relate to, but I can only imagine what may have happened. There are so many questions, and you won’t know unless Kannon explains them to you in person. As a listener, I can only speculate.
Why was this album named “Art is Perception?” The record’s themes mainly relate to selling drugs, taking out people that betray your trust, and overcoming adversity and poverty to rise to a better way of life. Perhaps this is all a commentary on the hip hop genre as a whole, pointing out that the graphic nature of the lyrics and subject matter are still just as valid as a generic pop song about love. Selling drugs and navigating that difficult community involves skill, and yes, there is an art to it. Maybe that’s the connection here, especially if we follow the saying “art imitates life.” Taking it a step further: life is all about perception, and therefore art is perception. Not all art is beautiful or pleasing. What about art that offends? What if it makes you uncomfortable? It is still art, is it not?
Fish’s Scale: 5/7
Reasoning: There is no denying that Anthony Kannon is a prolific hip hop artist and loves his craft. The album has some fantastic tracks, including “Rick Fox” and “Dope on the Scale.” Where the album suffers is in its inconsistent production value. To me, the stand-out tracks I listed are the best sounding in terms of how they are mixed. However, the other tracks do not have the same “bite.” Additionally, there are inconsistencies with the mixing of the record. When Kannon finds the right mixing engineer, his albums will shine brighter and make a much more significant impact on listeners. That said, Kannon is a specialist with his varied flow styles and poetic verses. If he continues down this path, he will continue to make waves in the hip hop scene. For those looking to dive in, start with “Rick Fox” and blast it in your car!