Rating: 8 / 10
Many MCs wouldn’t even fathom going after one of his heavy hitting singles, let alone dedicate a whole tape inspired to Eminem (and thus, subject to be stacked against the legendary MC). The People’s Rapper is the latest project from Breeding Ground artist, Jon Connor, that has him rapping over classic Shady instrumentals- similar to his project featuring him over Jay-Z beats. He either doesn’t care about the fact most wouldn’t dare to attempt this, or feels that he’s good enough to dismiss it. It’s probably both.
Substance is not a problem for the upcoming artist from Flint, Michigan. The task of maintaining a running motif while sustaining interest from listeners for a fairly new rapper is challenging, but Jon Conner is deep. The last song, “When I’m Gone” is the one the best, with Conner rapping, “What make you a real n*gga? / ‘Cause your boy started some sh*t/ and you went and got killed with him?” Being that there is no original production here, everything falls on the shoulders of Conner’s lyricism. Tackling some of Em’s deeper songs, the Midwest representative has some of his brightest moments. “Stan” is a letter to Biggie (“You was the only one/who was ready for you to die…”), 2Pac (“I hate when people talk about you/ and all they got was thuggin”), and MC Breed, Michigan rap pioneer (“You gave us a reason/ to say Flint and say it loud”). “25 To Life” has a touching last verse dedicated to the late Whitney Houston, and “Cleaning Out My Closet” may be the best cut here. I use cut, because Connor slices through the signature, sinister snares with the same frustrated flow that Eminem evoked.
With this being said, Jon Connor is so good over the more aggressive songs that it’s often scary. The intro “Cold Wind Blows” is a brash hello to the world (“My lines are limitless/ Screaming f*ck you n*ggas like a feminist”) as “Just Don’t Give A F*ck” is full of crisp punch-lines (“I ain’t just good, I’m a God, that’s a typo”). “The Way I Am” contains a deadly flow, (“And these words from my tongue, got the power of a gun”) and “Role Model” showcases Conner bouncing off the walls with hot lines; sort of like the way your bobbing your head out of control by this point (“It’s an old-school, *ss-whooping, hang your draws on the flag pole”). The former three songs come consecutively, and prove to be the meat of the track-listing. “Solider” is yet another ferocious strike (“They ain’t dying of old age, I’m running them over, it’s a result of my road rage”) while “Hello” is the closest we get to the repulsively good, outlandish lines that Shady used to kick (“Ain’t seen nothing this perverted/ since Pee Wee Herman jerkin’ in public/ can you picture that perfect?”).
This review will end with a disclaimer: The lines quoted above are not the only, nor necessarily the best, examples of Jon Connor’s exceptional lyricism on his latest project. The only way to fully enjoy the onslaught is to listen for yourself. The entire mixtape is a middle finger to label executives and haters – bringing out the best in Flint’s finest. Because the songs here are re-works of Eminem’s originals, I’m not sure if any of these will become longtime favorites. Instead, this was more like a media workout day for all to witness, and Jon Connor passed with flying colors.