Jon Connor’s new release, Unconscious State, is 22 tracks in length. It’s a lot to take in. And in the hands of many, it could result in an album as seemingly cluttered as its cover art. However, in this case, everything is all very necessary and simply an indication that few stones will be left unturned.
The album opens with a musical interlude, and that is is very fitting since Connor recently told MTV, “I consider myself a music dude first, and spitting and being a spitter kind of just came later. I learned that, but music was always in me.”
Furthermore, the emotion that music evokes wonderfully complements the Flint native’s often substance-filled verses. And once track two starts, listeners are given just that. Wether talking about the frustrations of a bad job (“2 Week Notice”) or even paying homage to porn stars (“The Porn Song”), Connor’s ability to write and deliver quality lyrics effectively give his songs weight that most other rap records don’t have-even the ones of his with a simple or silly premise.
“S**t, I’m convinced we on different paths/There’s different ways to keep gettin’ cash/ A dollar only got so much power, and I’m too strong to be kissin’ a**”
But listeners of Connor already know that, what makes this album special is that there is a cohesiveness about it that makes it really stand out. For instance, “The Sarah Song” discusses the temptation of fast women. “American Pie,” on the other hand though, has Jon reflecting on how when “hitting skins was the only thing [his] mind,” it could have potentially damaged some of the women he encountered. “Under Oath” finds him rapping proudly about overcoming the rough road he’s traveled to get on, but then “Running Away” is about how his struggles have taken a toll. While those are both examples of opposite ends of the spectrum, none of what is being said comes across as insincere.
That’s why this album is great. Not unlike Slick Rick, Jon Connor is skilled in the art of contradiction. The aforementioned songs appear on the same album successfully for the same reason “Treat Her Like a Prostitute” and “Hey Young World” did on Rick’s debut- the rappers are honest. They’re honest in the sense that they recognize there is craziness in the world. However, they’re also honest enough to acknowledge that they’re not immune to all of that craziness either. And that display of human, not holier than thou, behavior which is presented there is something everyone can relate to. Jon Connor calls himself “The People’s Rapper” and this is another great example of how he lives up to the name.
Appearances from the likes of Talib Kweli, Royce Da 5’9,” Tito Lopez, Freddie Gibbs, Danny Brown, and others are all well placed. The problem with some of the collaboration records though is that they feel catered to the guests and make Jon come off as a featured artist on his own song a few times. But with that being said, in terms of production for Connor’s music, it continues to get better and better with each outing. Jon has a more diverse selection of beats to rap on now and he takes full advantage of that. He uses them to rhyme with different flows and experiment with all sorts of hooks; the album is better because of it.
Unconscious State’s only other misstep is that Jon seems a bit repetitive with his rhymes about being an under appreciated, skilled rapper in a Hip-Hop climate with lots of mediocrity. He certainly does it creatively, but he could let the music just speak for itself instead of speaking about it so much in the music. That is just a minor fault though, and is countered by application of the adage, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
Overall, this is a great addition to Jon Connor’s already impressive catalogue of previous material. It’s only a matter of time before Unconscious State propels Jon Connor further into the Hip-Hop audience’s consciousness than he has ever been before and his All Varsity Music imprint starts putting up game-winning numbers in the majors.
Replay Value: 9/10
Have you heard Unconscious State yet? What are your thoughts on the album? Sound off in the comments section!