Like in the Terminator movies, Jon Connor (born Freeman) is on a mission to save music. Labeled as “The People’s Rapper,” Conner is a triple threat in the game. Not only does he spit tight verses, but he also writes and produces all of his own joints. His music doesn’t follow the norm, but is instead saturated with unique beats coupled with sincere, raw emotions that really pierce listeners. Looking to continue the buzz he continued to produce another hot mixtape with “Jon Connor As Vinnie Chase: Season 2,” mixtape that dropped last year. We caught up with the rising lyricist to talk about inspiration, the new mixtape and why he’s “The People’s Rapper.”
AllHipHop.com: When was the moment you became interested in music?
Jon Connor: It wasn’t even a time when I can say it really started since from birth I was around music. My dad plays the guitar, drums, keys, and I would watch them rehearse and play in church. Music was like the fifth member of the Freeman household, so really it was there all along. We would play old records like Hall and Oats, Bobby Brown, Bobby Womack, Zap, Gap Band, etc.
AllHipHop.com: When was the first time you came across Hip-Hop?
Jon Connor: My older sister introduced me to hip-hop. I was listening to ’70’s soul, ’80’s rock and’90’s pop-rock and she was the one who was a hardcore hip-hop fan. My first real introduction to hip-hop music was through her playing MC Breed’s “Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin,’” and DJ Quik’s “Born and Raised in Compton.”
AllHipHop.com: Why did you want to make it a career?
Jon Connor: What turned me on to being an entrepreneur and being in the music game was watching the era of Master P and No Limit. They just came and took over the game. Our stories are similar. Before Master P, New Orleans didn’t really have a voice until No Limit and Cash Money came out and made a movement out of their music. They were pumping out so much music and they created the blueprint to get out and do it themselves. Watching them led me to create my own company Varsity Music. Music is my first love so I knew that I would produce music. I would describe music as my first love and hip-hop as my mistress.
AllHipHop.com: What was your first rap battle like?
Jon Connor: I was in the fifth grade, and one of my friends at the time would always rap on the bus. When he would freestyle, he would pass the “mic” to me and I would always stop the whole session ’cause I couldn’t rap. There was one day when I knew that he was going to pass the mic to me, so I practiced a good two bars to spit. The day came and they passed me the mic, I spit those two bars and the bus when crazy. After that reaction, I started taking rap seriously. That’s why I go so hard when I write my rhymes. The same high I got from the way my classmates reacted when they heard me spit on the bus is the same high I get from being on stage now.
AllHipHop.com: How did you get dubbed the “People’s Rapper?“
Jon Connor: To be honest, Jon Freeman, the person, cares about all people. Through my music and my message, all of us share the same struggles, and we shouldn’t treat each other different because of class or race. I want my music to speak all people and include all people. Of course, I ‘m going to tell the story of my music through my experience of growing up in Flint, Michigan, but my music speaks to the entire human experience.
AllHipHop.com: How has growing up in Flint, Michigan impact your rhymes?
Jon Connor: People hear about my city and know about my city, but people don’t know the depths of the city. It’s really a whole other world. I’m very aggressive and passionate and that comes from growing up in Flint. I’m not going to paint this super unrealistic portrait of my city, so what I speak in my music is simply the truth. My city hasn’t had a ray of hope in a long time. When I rap, I’m not just doing it for me or my crew. In Flint, you’ve got teens with more stress than a person that’s 40. There is no rest in my city because we come from a place where we don’t have shit. My mother lives in a neighborhood where half the block is boarded up. I was just told the other day that one of my little homies got killed by his own cousin and that’s normal for Flint. So when you hear me going so hard it’s because life in Flint is real. Failure is not an option, and Flint put that in me.
AllHipHop.com: What was the grind coming up like?
Jon Connor: In 2005, I made my first record that started my career. I had a friend in Florida, and I would take the bus from Flint to Florida and I passed out CDs along the whole bus ride, optimistic that my name would get out there. Nothing in this business was handed to me, I came from the hard time grind. I’m a songwriter, producer, rapper and a visionary. I can’t stop until I got VMAs, No. 1 albums, Grammy’s…all that. I want to be one of the greatest of all time in this music industry.
AllHipHop.com: What went into creating this your latest mixtape, and how was it different from other projects you’ve created before”
Jon Connor: “Season 2” is very different from everything I’ve ever done because the awareness of Jon Conner is the highest its ever been. My name is really buzzin’. Before “Season 2,” I was still trying to catch people’s attention. So now that I have people’s attention, I have to really show my ass. We have to be the ’96 Bulls, which was our mentality behind the creation of “Season 2.” Lyrically, it’s the most personal material I’ve ever written. For the concepts and themes, I just go super personal. I talk about issues that affect us all. I’m talking about things we see everyday in Flint like little girls cussing and talking back to the parents and them not correcting her. I talk about how this little girl’s life will be affected by her parent’s lack of discipline and how this will play out once that little girl grows up to be a mother raising her own children. I’m talking about raw human emotions. “Season 2” is really a wake-up call.
AllHipHop.com: How would you describe your lyrical prowess?
Jon Connor: I think that’s the cool thing about being from Michigan. I have elements of all styles West, East, and South, which all have their own unique sounds. My production style is a little bit of everything, but I don’t like labels. I think labels are bullshit. There are so many facets to a person, and therefore we can’t just pigeonhole everybody into one thing. It’s the same with my music; I’m more than just conscious rapper or a party rapper. I rap about everything and that a reflection of my real life. I’m and all-around artist.
AllHipHop.com: How would you describe the state of Hip-Hop right now?
Jon Connor: In the NBA, you had an era with all the greats Jordan, Bird, Magic, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, and they made watching basketball fun again. I love the state of hip-hop right now. You have a lot of artists who care about what they’re saying and how their production sounds, because they want to make a real impact with their music. They respect the game and they want to create music that is a reflection of the inspirations that we had from artists we grew up with. Underneath the surface are a lot of artists who are making really good music.
AllHipHop.com: There are a million new artists that come out the woodwork everyday, so what makes you stand out?
Jon Connor: My passion and my work ethic draws people to me—whether they see me on stage or they hear a song of mine. Plus, no one else has my story and if they did, they can’t verbalize it like me. I’ve been fighting since birth; before I knew what life was and people see it. They see the genuineness in me, so the same person you hear on the record is the same person you’re shaking hands with. I’m not a character ’cause this is who I am. Through honesty and truth, you connect to people on a deeper level. I’m gonna always do me.
AllHipHop.com: Who would you love to collaborate with and why?
Jon Conner: It’s too many to name, but my top three would be Eminem since I’m from Michigan, Timbaland to talk music, philosophy and psychology and Prince because he’s great?
AllHipHop.com: When can fans expect an official LP?
Jon Connor: We’re focused on “Season 2” right now, but we’re in talks right now with some folks and whenever a situation comes across that right then we’ll make an official major label debut. The intensity of how we’re working on this album is the same zeal I’ll take with my debut album. If I do say so, “Season 2” is a dope fucking album! It’s a movie for your ears. I’m making it free as a thank you to the people.
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