Separating yourself from the pack is a continuous struggle for most artists, rappers being no exception. Chicago emcee and battle rap vet (Chicago Battlegrounds, Smack/URL, Don’t Flop, Grindtime) Big Kannon made a lane for himself with thorough bars and a fiery preacher’s tone that belies his scant 23 years. On wax, like his latest release Ready II Live, the unique fire and brimstone vocal timbre that propelled him against opponents is considerably more understated, if noticeable at all. In it’s place is a keen writer’s eye and deft gift for storytelling that makes up the best tracks on this well-curated 7-track EP.
Ready II Live begins with a de rigueur intro and a track about Kannon’s hustle over glittering radio-ready production, but the Windy City rep quickly shows unexpected dimension to himself on tracks like “Mother”. The standout cut dispenses with hooks or a verse-chorus format and instead goes full Wu-Tang with an urgently delivered tale of drugs, broken families, and murder that becomes so engrossing that it’s easy to get lost once the track ends, its final bars tastefully stopping early enough to let a haunting soul sample act as a coda. “Time” and “The Set-Up” navigate similar territory, playing to Kannon’s Ghostface-like strength to evoke emotion and vivid narrative whenever his instrumentals are similarly soulful or emotional enough to demand the same. The latter is a gripping first-person crime story over an interpolation of TOK’s “Footsteps”, while the intro takes on Drake and Rick Ross’s standout collab “Lord Knows” and other EP standouts “Mother” and “Time” feature production from t3k.
For some A/V supplement, check out the EP stream via DatPiff below, as well as links to Big Kannon info, updates, and music. Also be sure to check his latest battle from Smack/URL’s “Motor City Mayhem” event and comment in its thread in the Battle Video Archives thread.