Growing up, I was always taught to select my friends very carefully. I was told to surround myself with people that were going somewhere or doing something. It’s the “iron sharpens iron” idea. The better the people you are around, the better you can become. You see this in sports all of the time. Great players make average or poor players better. Some players even become great players just by joining better teams.
It’s not just socially and in sports that this is true, this idea is also very true in hip-hop. Some average artists sound better because of the label they are on. They get top-notch production, features and guidance. That is bound to make any artist better. There aren’t only positive effects; there are some drawbacks to being apart of a really talented team. The most notable drawback is the expectation that comes with it. If your team is really talented, then you are expected to be as talented as they are.
This brings us to Canon. He is a perfect example of having great friends. Seemingly, every person around Canon has had some success or is extremely talented. He’s signed to Reflection Music Group (RMG) and does a lot of work with Reach Records. Not to mention he’s Lecrae’s hype man. The outstanding success Reach and RMG has had, adds some lofty expectations for Canon’s debut record Mad Haven.
Even though it’s his first full-length album, Canon is far from being new to CHH. He already has a few mixtapes and EP’s on his resume, not to mention countless features and a group album with his label mates, (Welcome to the Family). His resume has created a real buzz around him and his new record. So, does Mad Haven live up to the hype? Can it establish Canon as his own artist, and separate him from the great talent around him?
It’s hard to pinpoint the specific impression I first had when listening to Mad Haven. The best word I can come up with is awe. I was completely impressed with Canon’s performance on this record. Like most others, my expectations were high, but I didn’t quite know what to expect. Canon is a very interesting artist. He is not scared to try new things and push himself creatively. That makes predicting what his album will sound like virtually impossible. With that being said, he completely exceeded any and all expectations.
What Made it Great
Anyone familiar with Canon’s past work shouldn’t be surprised that the production on Mad Haven was great. This is one of the things fans of his have come to expect. Canon will always have production that will bang and get you hype. Mad Haven definitely had a lot of banging beats. It was just the hard beats that made the production on Mad Haven special, and I was blown away by the high quality of the production. This record sounded amazing. The sound was clear and crisp, and that alone sets this record apart from many others.
As I alluded to earlier, Canon is known for “turning up” on his records. While Mad Haven had plenty of that, it was the versatility of the overall record that was very impressive. Canon was able to slow it down on tracks like “Relations” and “The Road.” This was something I wasn’t sure that he could do, but Canon proved me very wrong. He made the transitions between these tracks effortlessly and made Mad Haven a complete and well-rounded album.
I was real excited for this part of the album. I was expecting to see some big names featured on Mad Haven, and Canon did not disappoint. Lecrae, Derek Minor, Thi’sl, J.R., Tony Tillman and Tragic Hero all made appearances. Bringing along names as big as these can be dangerous, because you run the risk of being out-shined on your own record. That didn’t seem to be a problem for Canon. Mainly because he used his features well. He used his features to build great songs and compliment him. It all came together great, and elevated Mad Haven to an elite level.
In order for the features to elevate the project, Canon would have to hold his own on them. And hold his own he did. Canon elevated his game to match the level of artists that he brought onto the project. His performance wasn’t only impressive on features though, he showed out throughout the record. The one thing Canon is most known for is his ability to twist (rap fast). I was expecting to hear a lot of twisting, but I got the opposite of that. Canon slowed the pace of his flow for a majority of the record. I think that makes Canon a much better artist. Not just because fans are more able to understand him, but also because it makes him a more rounded artist. Canon showed he could do it all. I was left in awe of the complete artist that Canon was on Mad Haven.
Hip-hop albums are now defined by the playback value. The more and more you can go back to an album the better. A lot goes into making memorable moments on a record. Mad Haven had plenty of playback value and Canon created it several different ways. There were the obvious tracks like “How We Do It” featuring Lecrae & Thi’sl, and “Lotto” featuring Derek Minor: that figured to be memorable and was exactly that. There were also the tracks were Canon held his own by himself. All together Mad Haven has a ton of playback value.
Mad Haven is a great album. It has everything you could want in an album. There is great production, lyricism and a fantastic message. It wasn’t perfect, there were a few areas of growth but none were big enough to really affect the listening experience. Canon showed great poise and maturity on Mad Haven. He sounded like a veteran emcee all throughout the record.
Mad Haven is a must have and not because of Canon’s team, but because Canon was great on it.