On Tuesday, August 11, AllHipHop.com had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Aftermath recording artist (and AHH Breeding Ground alumni), Jon Connor. The Flint, Michigan, native’s skills and tireless dedication to his craft have really been paying off as of late. Not only did he sign with the legendary Dr. Dre, but he also made two outstanding contributions to Dre’s Compton offering.
During our conversation, Connor, among other things, broke down what its like working with one of the best producers to ever do it, shared memories of being on the set for Straight Outta Compton, and hinted that he has more dope music on the way.
One of the things he said to me while wrapping up was, “At the end of the day, I’m a fan of Hip-Hop just like everybody else. I’m one of the people.” And that is something which, even with all his success, has never evaded him.
If Connor continues to build on his already strong pillars of talent, respect for Hip-Hop culture, and gratitude for his fans, he will have a long and successful career which surpasses the competition.
It’s still Aftermath and there ain’t goin’ be nothin’ after that!
AllHipHop.com: Thank you so much for taking time to speak me and AllHipHop.com. We really appreciate it. You and I have talked before and that was a real pleasure, so I’ve been looking forward to this interview.
Jon Connor: I want to say back, the same thing with you all. It’s mutual. I appreciate you all and the way you have always supported me from day one. It’s always a pleasure, man.
First off, congratulations on the Compton album. Are you pleased with the response it has been getting?
Yes, there has been an overwhelming love. And just knowing that everybody has been so excited and finally we get this project from Dre that people have been waiting so long for. The love is overwhelming; the response has been amazing. And the way it’s going hand-in-hand with the Straight Outta Compton movie, you couldn’t ask for a better platform or set up.
I’ve seen social media pics of you, Dre, and others in the studio where you’ve referred to yourself as a “student.” What would you say is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from these sessions?
There’s so many because, with Dre, Dre is the greatest producer of all-time. For me, he’s like the Quincy Jones of Hip-Hop. So the thing is, everyday you’re constantly learning. I’d say one of the greatest things I’ve learned from Dre is that greatness is in the details. Don’t let anything slide. If you’re tired or have been working for 12 hours and are ready to go to sleep, you still put in the same effort and the same time as when you first got there. Work your hardest until you can barely keep your eyes open. If you have to go through every song and comb through every lyric and melody and harmony and cadence, you do it because he [Dr. Dre] has a commitment to greatness. We all call Dr. Dre the greatest of all-time and I’m just fortunate and blessed enough to be able to be at the studio and understand why. I’ve always thought I had a grind and hard work ethic in me, but, by being around Dre, it just got taken to another level.
Just to follow up with that, to paint a picture, have you been in the studio with Dre where you’ve watched him make a beat? Or has it been where he has pulled up an instrumental and asked you to write to it? How does that whole process work?
That process is actually different from record to record. There are joints where I was actually there for the conception of the music. Like “One Shot One Kill,” I was there when that beat got made. “One Shot One Kill” is like my baby laughs. I watched it go from an idea and a sample to the addition of the live instrumentation and Snoop and everything that it eventually ended up becoming. But it’s different from record to record, Dre is the type of cat where it’s all based on the feel. If he’s feeling it and the vibe and the energy is there… he doesn’t care how the creative process happens. The one common denominator in every record is that the vibe and positive energy is there.
That’s actually a great segue into one of my other questions. What went through your head when you first found out that you were given song credit as the lead performing artist on “One Shot One Kill” as opposed to just being a guest feature?
I still don’t know if that has completely soaked into my brain. It’s crazy. I have a record with me featuring Snoop Dogg on Dr. Dre’s last album. That’s beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. It feels amazing. Statik Selektah hit me and he said, “You are forever etched in Hip-Hop history.” And the magnitude of that statement, I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to fathom or truly understand it. All I know is that it’s an amazing feeling and honestly it’s hard for me to even put it in words.
And then, of course, there’s “For the Love of Money” which you also appear on. Prior to telling a friend about this interview, he sent me a screenshot of his phone with that song highlighted and a caption which read “This song is on repeat.” He told me how he looked you up, and I said that I’d been following your work for years. You’re satisfying old fans and getting new ones. It’s a beautiful thing, bro.
And with that I want to say ‘thank you’ and tell your man I said, ‘thank you‘ too. It’s an amazing time. This is my dream. I’m a kid from Flint, Michigan, man. It’s one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States and so for us to be talking about the things we’re talking about, I’m truly humbled by that and I just to let the people know there’s more where that came from and I’ll forever be thankful to Dre for giving me this platform. And I want to thank AllHipHop because you’ve all been rocking with me for years and y’all know the grind that I’ve put down and how hard I worked for this. And with Dre, he saw and understood me as an artist and believed in me enough to give me a platform. I’m just humbled by all of this.
One of the things I did to prepare for this is I went back and listened to “Big Brother” off of your Best in the World series. And listened to how you described the whole scenario where Dre signed you. How did that situation play out?
Yo, it was three phone calls and a flight. There was the initial call when Xzibit hit me like, “Yo, I’m gonna let Dre hear your music.” Then the second call was, “Okay, give me 10 songs you want Dre to hear.” Then the third call was, “Dre wants you to be in California tomorrow.” When I got to California, I was working the whole time. Think about it, man. I’m from Flint. If you’re from Flint, you think Dr. Dre lives on like Mars or Jupiter. And so for him to like your music… he was just playing beats and I rapped every verse I ever wrote. I was pulling out verses from high school. I was like I’m not leaving this house until Dr. Dre falls in love with what I do. Whatever he needed to hear, I was gonna spit it. It got to the point where I rapped so much, he finally just stopped the music and was like, “Alright, what do you want to do?” And that was the moment that changed my life.
Thoughts on Straight Outta Compton?
It’s crazy, my experiences with the movie because I was fortunate enough to go on the set as they were making the movie. There’s no weirder feeling, I was on the set one day where they were shooting a scene with the characters that play Dr. Dre and his wife Nicole. And I’m sitting in one of these chairs on set as the real Dr. Dre and Nicole are sitting in front of me. I leaned into Dre and was like, “Man, do you feel crazy right now?” When I got signed to Aftermath, the movie was still at its infant stage where they still coming up with the script and picking actors. I had a chance to legitimately watch this movie grow and become what it has become… I think people already know it’s going to be good because it’s the story of N.W.A and we all want to see it, but just the attention to detail that Gary, Dre, and Cube put into the movie – I think it’s going to surprise people because they’ll be things about N.W.A and their relationship and how things went down that none of us as fans knew. It’s a great movie for Hip-Hop and a great movie in the sense of just being a great movie.
Do you have any more Best in the World stuff coming out or is your next release going to be your Aftermath debut with original music?
You know what? I don’t want to give away too much, but just know that the things that I am working on are almost done. And we are so close to completion, it’s crazy. But right now though, I just want the people to enjoy Compton. For me right now, it’s all about Dre and thirty years plus of the greatest to ever do it. It’s Dre Day!