ITHACA, N.Y.—Anthony Henry, or “Anthony Kannon” as he is more commonly known in music, stayed mostly quiet for two years. Other than social media posts promising a flood of content and an overflowing backlog of music, fans were mostly left wanting since spring 2020.
But as it was promised, the flood has come. Kannon has now released four albums in the last four months and says he intends to release a new project of some kind, be it EP or full-fledged album or otherwise, each month until the end of 2022. Before the release of “Plug Talk 2” in December 2021, Kannon said he had 17 albums recorded, sequenced, finished and ready for release.
“This was always part of the plan, but I’m still formulating as we go,” Kannon said. “For the past couple years, I’ve been trying to drop really just stuff here and there, like a project at least once a year. But I’ve been building and recording a lot the past couple years, and just dropping enough to keep people engaged.”
Kannon has emerged as one of the most popular artists from Ithaca’s hip-hop scene, helped by his affiliation with the long-time Ithaca rap stalwarts at Smacked Records. His previous success was fueled by a fairly sporadic release schedule, including the revelatory “Color Blind” and “Blur,” a collaboration with fellow Ithaca artist Meech Booker in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But now he’s ready to churn, reaping the benefits of spending 20 to 30 hours a month recording since the beginning of 2020.
Kannon’s momentum was picking up a few years back, leading to his first true tour experience in early 2020 — though that was promptly canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic ground the world to a halt, particularly live music events. With those events seemingly on the upswing again, Kannon’s chosen this moment to seize the opportunity.
Since December 2021, he’s put out the aforementioned “Plug Talk 2,” “Famiglia” (a collaboration with California-based G Seppe), and “Palindrome,” with producer desisclever, who Kannon met during high school in Ithaca. “Palindrome,” which Kannon said has been the best received of the group, is a particular highlight: songs like “CorNY” and “1+2+3” make it difficult to understand how or why Kannon isn’t already a bigger name in rap outside of central New York.
“There were definitely a couple misses in what I’ve been trying to do and record the last couple years,” he said, acknowledging that he has even more songs and projects that will likely never see the light of day, just because they’ve been sitting for so long and don’t fit with what he’s trying to do anymore. “It’s starting to just stack up, and if I didn’t just put [the backlog] out in a row, I wasn’t sure how it was ever going to get out.”
Producer Chade Summerset has become one of Kannon’s most frequent collaborators, with the duo having teamed up for “Plug Talk 2” late last year and two unreleased projects before that.
“I’ve organized [the releases] in a way so that I can lead up to what I think are the strongest displays of my rapping and music-making capabilities,” Kannon continued. “All of this is stuff that I’m genuinely proud of, but I’m trying to ease into some of the stuff that I think is a true, true game-changer.”
Kannon’s music has long been influenced by more lyrical rappers, like Royce da 5’9″, and that trend has continued. Kannon said recently he’s been listening to underground (but increasingly prominent) rappers like Stove God Cooks and Mach-Hommy, as well as the legendary KRS-One’s most recent album.
Those influences have propelled his current output, recorded over the last two years. Kannon also understands that by putting out as much music as he intends to, he runs the risk of saturating the market and people losing interest, but it’s a gamble he’s willing to take.
“It’s a really weird feeling, but it’s nice to go back and listen to them, now it’s like an archive and I can go back and make any changes or adjustments that need to be made,” Kannon said. He’s talking in mid-March, one day after a marathon 12-hour recording session that sounds close to the norm for him at this point. “They’ve been active works in progress since, really, the end of 2019, but primarily once the pandemic really hit, that’s when I started locking in with my engineer, doing these crazy long sessions multiple times a month, and they just never really stopped.”