GunPoets

This year’s Black Friday festivities will feature a repeat of what is becoming a yearly tradition: a star-studded hip hop concert featuring some of the biggest established acts making music locally, as well as a crop of new artists trying to make a name for themselves as well.

As with years prior, the GunPoets are headlining this year’s event, with the six-member collective anchoring the show at the Range, for which doors will open at 8:30 p.m. with the show starting at 9:30. They’ll be playing a two hour set, with performances and appearances throughout from fellow Ithaca rap legend Ave Mack, plus up and comers Anthony Kannon and Mstr McBean (real name Kelsey), who’s about to drop his debut project. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door.

The event has become something of a yearly tradition. Usually, the GunPoets serve as the headliner, though this year they will once again be joined by Ave Mack, just as they were last year. Plus, this year has expanded to include the younger acts as well, like McBean and Kannon, who are both from the Smacked Records crew.

“I prefer an explosive and extremely high energy show,” McBean said. “That type of gig lets me conjure something within me that transforms me into a completely different person than I am off stage, but I always try to adjust to the temperature of the room. The objective is always to just get the crowd to engage and be present with me.”

Joining the rest of the names on the stage is a significant step for McBean, who has certainly performed live before but never during a press run of a project release, where the stakes are a bit higher as an artist tries to build buzz for their work. McBean’s EP is titled “Set,” and will release on Dec. 5.

“This show is definitely a great opportunity for me. Having your name next to anyone of a higher status in this game is always beneficial,” McBean said. “It’s sometimes hard for consumers to be interested in what you’re serving/presenting until it’s next to something they already have a taste for and have taken a liking to. For me specifically I’m hoping it’ll draw eyes and ears to this promo run I’m on for the coming EP. Also, ideally it’ll help me get my foot in the door for more large show opportunities so I can keep the ball rolling.”

Since the EP will serve as more or less an introduction to McBean for those who haven’t heard his features on songs like “Superman” off of Kannon’s 2018 album “Color Blind,” McBean said his main inspirations are Missy Elliott and Kanye West in terms of nationally known artists. Locally, he said Kannon, Mack and his cousin Ernest Verb have all served as his primary inspirations in rap locally, adding Vybz Kartel, Movado and Dana Malcolm (for the latter’s production acumen) to the list as well.

The event holds special significance for those participating, especially artists like Kannon and McBean who are still cultivating an image and building momentum locally and regionally as they continue to drop music, like Kannon’s latest collaboration album with fellow local artists Meech Booker. Shows with acts like Mack and the GunPoets, particularly when there’s some tradition attached to it like the yearly Black Friday event, can be truly valuable, to the point that McBean and Kannon would like to continue the tradition themselves if the GunPoets ever end their performances.

“I don’t want to say flat-out that there will be another show on Black Friday next year, but that’s my goal,” Kannon said. “Me and Kelsey are going to try to make that happen.”

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