Foundation hits heavy and makes you think. It makes you question your existence and beliefs. The 15-track album neatly encapsulates modern prayer on Rap bars. The artist, Xcanon, will have many people talking as he takes a crucial step in contemporary artistry by putting God, sins, and women on the same project. This mortality of ours is something to bond over and humbly appreciate. Not better than you, not worse than you, just an artistic soul who’s finding his own path in this cruel world.
1. Dear God
The enthusiastic hey gives an insight on what’s possibly awaiting us. The synth assemble rapidly picks up the pace and the violins gravely prepare the audience. And right when you were expecting to hear the artist’s voice, you actually get introduced to an additional stringent, high-pitched sound. Around the 27th second the beat drops and Xcanon yells a hyped let’s go. “He’s breaking me, breaking me down!” follows the chant-like hook. Mighty catchy too and you find yourself vibing to it and you ain’t even hear Xcanon’s rap yet. That’s good production right there.
A minute in, we’re introduced to a sensitive multi-layered interpretation of a love-based relationship. The message could apply to both a new person and God Himself. A fact that is captivatingly in sync with that Christianity promotes: you get closer to God’s love by loving other people.“Dear Someone New/ Hope you get my jokes and laugh/ When I choke on confidence!/ Know it was never easy, I will always say/ That I married up to you/ Love looking up to you/ And I love the view/ More than my last truth.”
Xcanon’s flow is dynamic, seeming to employ chopper flow but then slows down for a second, and again picks it up. You can’t box his flow. Let’s see what the rest of the album got in store for us.
As for the instrumental, it is insanely abstract becoming the chief technical aspect of Dear God. If anything, it makes for a terrific first song: a whole lot of sonic elements, a mesh of genres, loudness, clarity, exploration. The ambiguity of the music beautifully mirrors the lyrical shift towards the end of the record: “Vision of youth, wonderful trust/ Better live, use to be the people’s people/ Stage of violence stripped of belongings material belongings/ Turn cheek policy, constricting your range of motion/ There’s gas on the flame, being witty tune into people’s energy.”
2. Last Repose
The title is rather somber and oozing gravitas. As per definition, repose signifies eternal rest. Subsequently, the breaking organ sound intensifies the funeral-like expectations. Luckily for those hoping this isn’t a post-mortem-dedicated piece, the drums come to save the beat and ease the atmosphere. At half a minute in, Xcanon raps with a more laid-back approach when compared to Dear God: “Last repose, just that (just that!)/ Satisfied, what’s fast? (what’s fast?)/ My hunger’s detached, I’m filled only to be apt/ Fulfilment’s a tool (fulfilment’s a tool)/ Meant to stop y’all in your tracks/ Stomp ’em in their tracks/ Stomp ya in your tracks.” Hum… This is the second coming of Yeezus. One can’t help but notice two tracks in the similitude between Xcanon’s acoustic qualities and Kanye West’s 2013 album.
Last Repose does not abide by the traditional song format granting in exchange an intricate play of repeat words that stand in for the absent hook segment.
The most prophetic, biblical punch of Last Repose is delivered by the following four bars: “How can a seed grow, unless it is buried alive- all men must die/ For the seed to survive, look what I have in my hand/ Seed without soil, will never survive you see an emcee and I see his life/ Family and friends that he will revive, Genesis Genesis.” Seems the Rap artist places the power in the listener’s hands by emphasizing throughout the record both the human beings’ own doing in this mortal life and equally working alongside God’s guidelines.
With a most melodic sequence, Limit appears to drop some of the ethereal vibes and bring it all back around good, earthly music. And as usual, we’re right on the money: “We course through the vein time’s vein with white blood cells, attack the enemy/ She spent all his rent, yet no space in his pen steady writing forgiveness and he meant/ Of course, I’m still hoping you will change your mind, only it’s your heart that needs a transplant.” Oof! So many messages in just a couple of lines. First, we got the passing of time paralleled to the white cells that invade healthy bodies eventually leading to physical self-destruction. Then we got a potential toxic romantic partner that spends his money and doesn’t think twice about it while he doesn’t really mind it as his focus is on improving his craft while forgiving the bi… oops! no, the woman. And ultimately admitting he’s not over it completely and realizes it’s her nature that needs to be changed altogether. Holy sh*t.
Xcanon’s commanding flow could be neatly categorized as old-school based with new-age transitions. While it is very staccato in its punches, the words never become truly separated as they used to be in the ’90s for example. The classic Hip Hop mannerism is also channeled by the diffused drums, the phone filtered ad-libs, the marching-like rhythm.
“Be bold a vision of young love/ Posture of grace O’ Lord/ I’ve been down for too long/ Put me back in your loving arms/ Armed with the truth/ I make my way themes consistent with you/ sovereign theology,” involves Xcanon the audience in his personal discussion with God. The emotional inclination added to the imposing instrumental equals to a strong reminder of Eminem’s Like Toy Soldiers. Limit is dope.
4. Right To Pray
The airy, eerie bells hint of a horror setting. Xcanon does in fact follow them with an unmistakable shout, March, Shout!, meant to underline the seriosity of what he’s transmitting.
“Said move into battle, Sharpen the sword, Satan’s on me, we mobbing toward/ Take y’alls position, YHWHs on a mission gather the sheep, scatter the abhorred/ Sound the trumpet that sound of war, sharpen the axe- whatcha running for,” fiercely raps Xcanon. At first glance, it would seem the rapper pens his bars into long arrangements of spoken phrases, when in actuality he creates a plethora of precisely calculated internal rhymes: sword, on, toward, y’all, abhorred, war, for.
Right To Pray features plenty of noise and a lo-fi tendency in its production which prompts it to have the feel of a cinematic soundtrack. The fourth record does feel like a continuation of Limit. To explain the palpable visual aspect transmitted to us through the multitude of elements applied in this song, Xcanon shared some behind-the-scenes info exclusively for Blue Rhymez Entertainment. “It all began as I admitted myself into rehab on Feb. 8, 2019, and grabbed a journal. Began the process of healing and writing in order to process and live my thoughts into paper. Evolved into a book filled with poetry, journal entries, art drawings, spoken word, and lyrics to be songs as I only had my imagination with no access to beat production except beatbox,” e-mails us the artist. This would also explain the derivative old-school presence we get to indulge in throughout the 15 songs off Foundation.
Right To Pray ends up feeling like a prayer indeed when Xcanon openly puts God on a pedestal: “That Lord and my Savior/ Confession of my faith/ Ministry of this grace/ This is my race/ So get out of my way/ He is the way/ Truth and the life/ No one can come except by the Christ.”
5. Oh Lord
Following a similar introduction as the previous song, Oh Lord gives off breezy, emotional vibes within the first seconds. The simple yet well ordered instrumental is brusquely cut by Xcanon’s Rap voice: “Run up on the page like whoa, whoa/ Got to get it back like Yo!/ I’ve been looking for You in the code/ Wonder if I’ll find You on my own/ Didn’t realize I was lost in the sign/ Running around -like the lost and blind.” Undoubtedly, this is the most lyrically intricate song thus far. The artist’s warm personality shines through his casual tone of voice. The flow, however, meets a novel shift, speeding up significantly right before taking a break and prolonging the last ad-lib or word of the bat.
The further in we go, the less godly and more earthly the delivery becomes, reverberating a brilliant, almost decorative aura: “Now the young in’s wanting meals/ Jump in my whip write a deal/ Manage my time I’m the real/ Bars so cold I’m the chill/ Pop on the scene hella kill/ Lyrics find the fresh ‘n the wheels/ Top dropped down/ On the bird with the frills.” Xcanon firmly places himself as a bonafide MC thanks to Oh Lord for it focalizes the rapper’s chopper spitting ability. If before that was a promise, now it’s a pact that’s been delivered.
Oh Lord is also the top crystalized song of the 5. It’s radio-ready, bumping heavy, ridin’ the beat hella steady. There, you got a dedicated rhyme Xcanon. Not for free though, you earned it through the excellency of this record. We applaud!
Curious fact: Xcanon’s voice changes pitch depending on his flow. The slower he raps, the deeper his voice gets and vice-versa.
6. Wake Up King
Kicking things off with a retro vibe à la ’80s, Wake Up King strikes as mysterious with Ambiental tones. It could go super old-school or it could get twisted on its head and turn into a modern, philosophical bop as most of the artists’ songs coming from CHHK. And holy guacamole we were not ready!!! The beat drop instantly takes us to the early ’00s R&B vibes. Or you could think of the more recent modern R&B phenomenon Chloe x Halle.
At 25 seconds in, the man of the hour leads the audience into his rather regal than religious story layout: “5,4,3,2,1 I’m Stephen Curry with the loaded gun/ Tripping on the background with a vision plug/ Mission and vision to delude my love, King/ Wake up, King, Wake up, Wake up.” Truth be told, Wake Up King flaunts some hefty Tik Tok appeal. We can already see Gen Zers doing their dances on it. Give it a thought maybe?
At around 01:40 one can easily notice how Xcanon derives new flow from the original cadence, subsequently turning it into spoken-word-like poetry more so than Rap. “No filter, just give me that green light with those green eyes/ When I feign right does it seem right/ Beauty, Religion, And Love- Moral compassion/ How the words jump off the stage, Hearing your voice throughout the day,” rapidly delves Xcanon into merging his top preferred topics into a couple of weighty bars. It is most discernible that an increased interest in dissecting the human moral compass is what Xcanon lives for on Foundation.
The record ends on essentially the same note as the one it began on. As it comes full circle, Wake Up King separates itself from the bunch for its surging melodic tones and rap-to-poetry dynamic.
7. Lil Famous
Aaaaay Em fans rejoice! The intro is a spot-on tribute to Cleaning Out My Closet. Same instruments, same guitar play, same vibe. The song starts taking an identity of its own when Xcanon starts rapping: “Now my dreams done, unless its to be/ Inter-generation, where my people will meet/ And where we staying hun?/ I got a vision the beast and now he’s tame some children got bitten/ He’s meek, but was it the same love/ Tough record to date, my mother a great.” Thus far Lil Famous seems to be the top-coded song touching superficially on some topics and deeper on others (While the bodies of a generation/ Pile in the nation/ Call it Su*cide generation; Each and everyone is important please stop pumping pills and adulterated concentration). If we were to punctiliously define song number seven, we’d say Em’s Cleaning Out My Closet but talking about the world’s current impasses.
This track is artistic in every sense possible displaying Xcanon’s increasing interest to diversify his MC skills from the usual blueprint on the market. His flow is steady and proclaims a chill sense of detachment. The trumpets in the second part of the song along with Xcanon’s relaxed tone make for a sophisticated, high-class rendition. You could put the guy on stage with a live Jazz band and they’d probably go viral. Good stuff!
8. The Run Up
With yet another piece that turns out to be profoundly influential on Foundation, The Run Up proves that Xcanon takes vast pleasure in carefully placing himself in a league of his own both musically and lyrically. If you couldn’t fathom a Rap artist dedicating a horrorcore beat and flow to God Himself, then today’s the day that you might start questioning everything you’ve ever known about this genre. Xcanon initially sounds like a distant cousin of OLI but only until you start getting a grasp on his lyrics and realize his message is on the very opposite end of the spectrum. This gigantic crossover of subgenres offers the audience a strong feeling of assured epicness from now on. Not many can say they’ve succeeded in placing God on a horrorcore beat. Xcanon can. :star:
“I know my God can always show up/ When all my life’s been on the run/ Sent His only Son so I can know love/ Jesus gots the devil on the run/ Jesus, he has already won/ I got the devil on the run/ and I know he will never give up,” in case you needed a modern, personalized prayer. This is history in the making.
The amusing element is that even the production mirrors a grimey vibe with huge room in the vocals, hard reverb, heavily layered vocals, sharp-sounding electro synth, intentional non-clarity among the instruments. Jsun The Prophesor worked his sound engineer magic in just the right amount to make The Run Up pop.
9. Save Me
Remember Tall Kyle? Save Me feels like it was written by the modern philosopher himself and yet… It was not! Xcanon wrote the song himself possibly without realizing how similar in style he came to the aforementioned Rap artist. They’re both extremely talented and Save Me would have been a seamless collaboration between the two.
The deeper in we go, the better the songs get. Xcanon, you keep pulling them rabbits out! “Imma light the stage when the stage is all done/ Imma rock my faith when faith is not fun/ They did come to see me but change is what’s up/ Flipping thru the pages to find my heart son,” speak-raps the artist. Save Me is the pause before the final storm. The tranquility of the record sets the audience in suspense, making you expect a monster for track 10. But before we get to that, let’s pay attention to two pivotal book-worthy bars: “Christ, if they follow me -they saved at least partly”; “I place my faith in God and run for my life/ They think I’m crazy but whose going to save me.” In the first one, apparently, Xcanon has taken upon himself to promote the word of God through his work as if having been ordered by the Chief above. In the second one, he humbly recounts people’s paranoia about his faith while not being bothered by it but definitely aware of it.
Where Save Me won us over was the very top priority of a commercially appealing song: the hook. It is lengthy but astutely structured. It is deep but evened out by the insertion of a female presence, “Imma a walk away even if she talk dumb/ I don’t know what to say I use to like her!” It is very much the same but often tweaked and altered to keep up the audience’s interest, such as switching “Imma light the stage when the stage is all done” with “Imma light the stage when the stage is awful.” This just might be the crown bearer in our eyes. A most majestic record.
That flow hits fast and hits as smooth as that acoustic guitar! “This is the flick of the flame, this is the pick of the day!/ This is the flick of the flame, people be taking me higher-/ This is the eternal realm, you are taking me higher/ I’m waiting for you. Yeshua. This is the flick of the flame.” This is exciting and energetic! This is the beginning of the grand finale of Foundation. Xcanon knows how to keep the audience on its toes for he slows down when you expect him to speed up. And so the rapper launches the melodic framework of Thisday: “You are taking me higher/ Throw the brick, taking the streets/ Let it run red, wash ’em white as snow/ Taking you -where you won’t go.”
While it may seem a simplistic thing, repeating This as many times as Xcanon does throughout the three minutes and twenty-three seconds, adds a big oomph to the song and eases its acoustic reception by the public.
For the most part, Thisday remains monochromatic and somber in value. Curiously enough, despite lasting over 3 minutes, due to its catchy layout, great mix and master, dope lyrics, the song gives off the impression of being no longer than a minute and a thirty seconds. So about the half of its original format. That dear readers, takes mastery and dashing songwriting skills.
With an incipient speech that is most mysterious and only alluding to a truth-seeking identity, Overload makes it abundantly clear that the sound will be cosmic, ethereal, and peculiar in its features for that heavy spatial synth swallows all else present on the beat and figuratively transports the audience into space. We don’t know if Xcanon envisioned heaven having a soundtrack exclusively created for Rap artists but in our humble opinion, this is pretty close to what it sound like.
“I’ve seen saints dragged thru hell and come alive again/ Claiming faith and then deny, boy you’re not my friend/ That’s perfectly normal, but don’t believe the hype/ We are not at rest. I’ve been locked up, boozed out/ Coked up, smoked out, burned down, left out, burned out, let down,” raps uninhibitedly Xcanon. Such translucid austerity is what will ultimately mark the rapper as distinctive. The last bars hit hard. Why’s that? Well well… Look around then look again. We’ve all been betrayed and sold and had Judases under disguise around us. Xcanon wording it this way makes it feel like therapy for the listener’s soul because no one is that lucky to have avoided some form of betrayal and suffering in this life.
With a sound coated in cosmic, metallic, acoustic affinities, Overload is vividly and correctly titled as it stands for a behemoth in disguise. You don’t expect such an avant-garde Rap song on such a futuristic beat from such a preacher-like upcoming artist. Kanye would applaud. Speaking of, Xcanon confirms our assumptions: “Talk tall, die small its heaven man, open up the gates let me in again/ …/Told ’em I’m a preacher before a rapper/ That’s the goal, mutter/ Under my breath prayers for my soul.”
12. Culture Warrior
We gotta admit, the title had us hyped ’cause the word combination of Culture Warrior intrinsically brings about Culture Vulture in your mind. Not your fault. It’s the media’s fault. So will the record trump the negative connotations its unspoken counterpart triggers in the listener’s brain? Let’s find out.
“Shooting all of my shots/ Ready this trigger is hot/ With a clean-cut fade/ Tell that picture gotta wait/ All of my grace, all of my race/ And I’m human and I make mistakes/ That’s why I’m covered by the blood/ And I walk in the love, run up then duck/ ‘Cause I’m all about the fun/ Culture, what’s good for the Culture?” Aaaand seems like we’re left to decide for ourselves what way to take this song. Merging God with the culture is a risky move but by the 12th record, we’ve learned that with Xcanon everything is possible. His admission about being human and making mistakes is welcome. Why? Well… if someone took an entire album to portray his self-conviction that according to him comes from God, admitting that you make mistakes anyways places Xcanon closer to the every day you and me. So we’re all equal even if very few of us take the time and effort to show our faith in God at the level that Xcanon does.
When paying attention to the instrumental, style, and production format, there’s a couple of things worth talking about. The beat is flawless. Simplistic, minimal, but heavy on landing. Think of a cousin version of All Gold Everything but with your preacher rapping on it if he was 10 years younger and cooler. Oh… Now we get it! That is culture and God indeed 😀 The vocals follow the precedent pattern of intermittent layering with mono tracks and the ad-libs are smartly placed to enhance the message. This song is assuredly in the top 3 best records off Foundation.
13. Beautiful Eyes
Another cinematic song this time with a strong black and white feel to it. Think of a slow-motion visual sequence from the ’80s when the film was grainy and the ratio was square. Beautiful Eyes is THAT transposed to music. Xcanon’s striking power to lay verses methodically to fit the atmosphere and even augment it, will find favor with many music aficionados of all genres. “Eyes, I tried to stay away building familiar synergy/ I’m going a new way good aesthetic energy its endearing glimpse/ It’s not about where you go, it’s how you get there,” proceeds the rapper to jumpstart the song.
The breezy voice snippet that’s heavily used throughout the song has a compelling effect of silencing the audience and forcing you to tune in for the message. What’s even more pleasing to the ears is how Xcanon’s tenor voice blends effortlessly with that of the female’s. “Every lover new feels like the design/ Longing after you erase the time/ Dim the lights kiss your mind upon the first sight/ I wonder what would happen If I spent the night/ My day now a misery until I catch those eyes – You remind me of a mystery,” raps Xcanon with throwback tinges of James Blunt’s Beautiful.
The increasing fervor strongly reverberates in the second part of the song and even more so towards the end when the artist recognizes his defeat in this emotional affair: “Does her heart reflect my action/ Am I taking enough- I really want to hold you/ But I’m giving up/ I notice another person spelled you/ I’m not saying it’s tough/ Just who am I lately/ Life is breaking up.” It’s not you, it’s the onions in the air. Unrequited love. Nuff said.
14. Escaping Digital Babylon (Backseat)
Someone call professor Langdon ’cause we got a cypher on our hands. On a serious note though, it was probably the only way Foundation could have ended. On a more cryptic level than it began.
The initial speech evolves into a new elaborate facet of Xcanon. One in which he becomes a psychologist, a pen-pal, a philosopher, a poet, a sort of modern-day Homer. “Today just for today all paths lead to the same place/ The scene not of the utmost importance for the place is not what matters/ Be it dark and clammy or narrow and confiding even broad with fresh sharp crisp air/ Be even ones most visited nook, the place is not what matters, it is be it who arrives the vitality.” For those who don’t primarily speak English, we feel for you. For those that do get it though, delect your mind and spirit with the teachings of this brilliant young mind named Xcanon.
True to its title, Escaping Digital Babylon comes off as escaping ANY traditional song concept. They would have to make a new Grammy category for Rap preachers.
Acoustically, number 14 morphs into a continuation of track 12 with a heavy, airy synth leading the arrangement from start to end. And that end boy! Xcanon is straight shouting at one point but then calms down and ends the song as if he just finished saying hi how you’re doing on the phone. “Eternity nothing more natural than speaking/ Except crying, because I didn’t have a purpose/ Until I met a man who didn’t have drive/ today, all paths lead to the same place/ It is who I am upon arrival that is my fate/ Tonight when your life is a movie everyone is waiting for the next cut scene.”
15. Black Frames
You know what will make you smile? This song! Black Frames comes from a different era thus it shows the past ghost of Xcanon, one most endearing when placed along the other 14 records on Foundation. “Black frames, cute name, skate/ Meet me at the ol terrace between worlds over/ By the field forever north/ I miss your face, curvy lines, a smooth ride, with those cushion seats, scene.” If you’re feeling like a teenager getting your first serious crush, thank Xcanon for the emotion. The man is a beast and a half.
The lo-fi production carries the taste of an indie garage performance. The hip community’s true music definition. All that enormous room sounds just like the warehouse clubs in New York pre-pandemic. Close your eyes, spill some beer on you, and BAM! you’re raving in Brooklyn on Black Frames.
A complex work. 15 songs. One artist, one producer, one engineer. Foundation develops an artistic language of its own: frank, humble, and largely mysterious. If the album sounded like an ode to God for a good two thirds of it, the last part was a crowning delight that underlined the vast range Xcanon can apply his Rap skills to. Blue Rhymez Entertainment wholeheartedly approves.
Album Credits: Joshua Granado (Xcanon) – Songwriter, Artist; Rob Jordan – Music Producer; Jason Anderson-Ebener (Jsun The Prophesor) – Recording, Mixing, Mastering Engineer.
Written by Mariana Berdianu
Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2021