Canon has come a long way from rapping over araabMUZIK beats he found floating on the internet to crafting the third installment of his popular Loose Canon series, which dropped today (November 4). Throughout his musical journey, he has been mentored by Lecrae, as he served as the independent powerhouse’s hypeman, and is now one of the exciting up-and-comers on Derek Minor‘s Reflection Music Group.
In December of 2014, Canon’s music career came to an abrupt halt when he fell off a bridge trying to help a man who was injured in a car accident. He suffered a concussion and broken jaw and was hospitalized for months. All of this happened three weeks after marrying his wife.
The incident greatly challenged Canon, born Aaron McCain, but gave him a fresh perspective and motivation to bring people hope and purpose through his music.
He spoke with HipHopDX about the direction for Loose Canon Vol. 3, life lessons from Lecrae and his road to recovery.
HipHopDX: You premiered the video for the Loose Canon Vol. 3 single “Eagles” with us. How does that song reflect the overall theme of your new project?
Canon: When we listen to “Eagles,” we felt like it had the sound of the Loose Canon project, it had the muscle of the Loose Canon project. We felt that the time that we were in and still are in, we thought that the message was relevant. We thought it was very important to communicate. We need people to step above and beyond what today’s status quo is of the world. We need people to see beyond what’s happening. It’s not enough to accept social injustice. It’s not for us to just accept black men dying every day. We need to get above what’s going on. This can not be the norm. And it can not be the norm either that we just read things on social media and we just run with it or we just run with things that we watch on TV or read online. We need to get above how today is and to do that, you have to look at it with a bird’s eye view and say this is not right. This is wrong. I felt like “Eagles” conveyed that message. I felt like “Eagles” kind of opened the door or opened the window for conversation. That’s the kind of conversation that I wanted to start to introduce Loose Canon Vol. 3.
HipHopDX: You’ve been placed in the Christian Hip Hop genre and have been about bringing positivity your whole career. Is there anything new you are doing now to reemphasize or reformulate that message?
Canon: I’m giving a lot of just creativity, especially in production. I produced possibly 80 percent, 70 or 80 percent of this project. I just kind of gave it my own creatively. Loose Canon, a lot of times the idea, or the feel of a Loose Canon project is typically, it’s sincere, it’s vibrant, it’s explorative, it’s substantial, it’s colorful, relatable, it’s bold, it’s compassionate. And those things, I wanted people to feel or felt that I gave them these things when they listen to the project, especially in the production. I want them to feel the colorfulness in the production, but also the colorfulness in the message. I want them to feel my sincerity about mulling over some of the issues today. I want them to also feel the compassion of having myself looking through the lens of somebody else’s life. But also, I want them to feel that I’m fighting to be relatable just by being able to understand the everyday issues that we all deal with. Not just some black and some white, but what we all deal with. Overall, too, I want them to feel the bold message. I want them to feel the bold 808s, the snares and hi-hats I want them to feel the boldness, the passion behind what I stand behind. So what you would typically get in a Loose Canon project is that, but differently, you’ll get more of a mature message that’s very relatable for today.
HipHopDX: I was listening back to some of your old stuff and I noticed on 2011’s Blind World that you rapped over a lot of aarabMUZIK production. How did that come about?
Canon: Blind World was more of a mixtape and to be honest, I was just a young kid just wanting to rap and I came across araabMUZIK’s tracks online, it might have been from DatPiff.com or something like that, and I was like, yo, this beat’s hot. I just wanna rap over this. Ima just give a bunch a bars and rap over this and it would be really dope to connect with him one day and to be honest, we never got a chance to actually meet or connect, but I figured maybe he’ll hear this song, maybe he’ll wanna do some more music, but that’s really how I came across, I was just searching for instrumentals just like any independent artist who can’t get production from people. I just wrote whatever I felt would be dope for that song. If he’s out there listening or watching what’s going on, I would love to get to work with araabMUZIK.
HipHopDX: Does Loose Canon Vol.3 give you a sense of completion?
Canon: With this being the third project, we started the brand for Loose Canon and the message behind Loose Canon is just we want people to have confidence in their God-given identity. We want them to conquer to live free, to conquer that fear to live free. I want them to be bold enough to be themselves kinda thing and not just who you were taught to be, but who you felt God has called you to be. That can play out and look so many different ways in everyone’s life. So I would say as long as I’m giving that message, I’ll always have a Loose Canon. There might be a fourth next year. Who knows? But that’s kind of the brand that I’ve created for myself, for my message. So right now, we’ve just got the wheels spinning, but there might be more in the future.
HipHopDX: I know you were in that serious accident. What has the recovery process been like?
Canon: The recovery was hard. I had only been married for three weeks before I had that accident, so to go through that as a newlywed couple. At that time, my career was hard because that put everything at a stop, at a pause. I was at a standstill for about a year. And it hurt. It really hurt to have to be down and not able to do what I love, to do music and travel, to be a good husband and serve my wife, instead being served because I can’t serve myself. It was hard, it hurt a lot of things, not just physically, but it hurt my pride, it hurt my heart, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, it hurt a lot of things and just to be able to get back to it was a blessing. But I had to work hard to get back to where I’m at now. But I’m grateful for where I’m at now. That’s why I wrote a song about it, I wrote “Grateful.” I am grateful that I’m able to get back. It cost me a lot to get here.
HipHopDX: What did you learn from going through that experience?
Canon: Look before you leap (laughs.) No, but if there’s anything I’ve learned, I’ve learned that on the best day, you can’t save yourself. On the best day. No matter how much you try to be Superman, there’s only one Superman who can save the day, who can hurt himself and save everybody else while doing it. In my opinion, that’s God himself. You get one life and that’s one life you have. Be a great manager and steward it and honor the one who gave you life. I sincerely believe that just as I tried to help somebody, we all should look to help people who are in need, to consider their situation. I didn’t know what was there, I didn’t know the reason behind the individual flipping over in his truck. He could have been drunk or whatever. And I’m against drunk driving, but I don’t know. If he was drunk, it’s not my job to sit there and to say, ‘Well, you shouldn’t be drunk driving.’ You shouldn’t be drinking and driving.’ Or if he was sleeping at the wheel, it wouldn’t be fit for me to say, ‘Well, he should have pulled over and took a nap.’ Like nah, he was flipped over in the truck. My goal was to see somebody where they are and meet them where they are. That’s how we should be with other people. That’s how we should treat other people. Meet them where they are. They are hurting in life. Stop to see what’s going on in there life. Understand and help empathize and help. Don’t criticize. Empathize and help. That’s what I’ve been fighting to do. That’s what I’ve learned and that’s what I’ve been trying to communicate in my message and that’s what I’ve been trying to communicate as I’ve built relationships with people. Don’t sit back and judge what’s going on and be a bystander on the side and don’t say anything. Engage. Help. Help those who are hurting. Mourn with those who are hurting and be the one to make change. I’ve been wanting to see a lot of change happen in this world that this world is overdue for and I just want to be a part of that. So that’s what I’ve learned.
HipHopDX: What lessons did you learn from Lecrae during your time with him?
Canon: I was with Lecrae the entire time. I had been with Lecrae since before I was a hype man for him. Crae taught me a lot of things. He taught me a lot about manhood. He taught me how to be a good father at home off the road and not neglecting your children even though I don’t have any. He taught me to be a good husband and not forget about your wife while you are on the road. Just because you become an artist doesn’t mean you stop becoming a husband. He taught me how to be a good businessman, to be strict about doing business well. Because at the end of the day, for what I believe, if the reality is we don’t own anything and God has given us everything that we do have, then we’re really just managers and stewards and at some point, God is going to call for all that. I didn’t get myself my own talent, my own opportunity, so I need to manage it well and steward it well. So a lot of things he taught me was to manage my business well, steward it well because its God’s. Steward my money well. Manage it well because it’s God’s money. So he taught me management, stewardship, being a man’s man, a good husband, a good father. He taught me these things that most men won’t stop their lives to talk to you about. He taught me how to build concerts. He taught me how to create a good stage presence, like a professional, as an artist who does this first time. It really blessed me to learn these things. He taught me not to care about what people say, especially when you make music for their good, yet still people criticize. He told me not to worry about what they say, but worry about the conviction that you have in your heart and everything God has put in it. So from that came the Loose Canon brand. In so many different words, so many different ways, that’s how I kind of came up with my Loose Canon brand. To be who God has created me to be, not who somebody else wants me to be. That time with Lecrae has taught me a lot. It shaped a lot of who I am today. Lecrae was just one of very many men who have shaped who I am today. That time was just a very pivotal point in my career. Crae’s the homie. Crae’s definitely the homie, the big brother, should I say.
HipHopDX: And Lecrae being just one of many who’ve influenced you, what does it mean to you to have RMG supporting you now?
Canon: RMG, Reflection Music Group, has always been family to me. No pun intended from my last single, but they’ve always been family to me. They’ve always been here when the times were great and they have been here when the times were rough. They were all there at the hospital with me when I was hurt. They’ve always supported my music. They’ve always given me the freedom to do the music I want to do, to have the sound that I wanna have, to say the message that I have in me. They’ve always been supportive of the path that I go and they’ve always encouraged me. They’ve always challenged me to be the best me that I can be. They’ve always challenged me to do better. I can’t ask for more from a label. They don’t look at me as, ‘He’s just the little guy, Canon. He’s just the baby brother.’ No, they look at me as a name. They look at me as somebody with dignity and intelligence and good character. They look at me with respect. They respect my time. They respect my talent. They respect my treasure. They respect my thoughts. They respect my music and I really appreciate that about my label. They fight for me. I don’t know what more I could ask from a label. I’d rather have this in an indy label than none of that in a major label. I love my label. Nowadays, people just want money. I want people in my circle that actually care about me and my career and where it goes. Not just the money that comes from it.
HipHopDX: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your audience?
Canon: In the end of it all, I just hope when people listen to the project, I hope people are reminded of their purpose, who God made them to be. I really hope that people consider different viewpoints than just what they believe or just what they understand. It goes beyond what they understand. They look into someone else’s point of view. I really hope when they listen to any Loose Canon project, I hope they’re taught to be bold about their convictions. I hope they’re challenged to be creative and I hope they think I set the box when they hear it because it’s going to come with different challenges, it’s going to come with different things, but they’re all relative to today. I want people to feel the freedom to be who they were meant to be and not just what they identify with today, but who they were sincerely meant to be overall in their lives. I really want that to be the dying mark when they hear the project and when they identify with that brand. Because it’s more than, ‘Oh he’s explosive and loud with his music.’ It’s like no, there’s a real message.”
Purchase Loose Canon Vol. 3 at iTunes or stream the project above.