He does it for the people.
Labeled as “The Peoples Rapper”, Jon Connor is a third generation musical talent with the triple threat abilities of writing, producing, and performing. Jon Connor’s innovative style of music using unique beats merged with raw emotions, and clever lyrics is a talent that cannot be silenced. His music conveys genuine purpose and individuality, rare qualities in contemporary rappers.
Where is Jon Connor from?
Jon Connor was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, about an hour away from Detroit, Michigan. Michigan-born and Michigan-bred.
Is Jon Connor your real name? If not, then, how did it originate?
No, my government name is Jon Freeman. Jon Connor came about because I’m like the biggest movie nerd of all time. When I was in 12th grade, I would watch The Terminator movies back to back to back and thought it was really dope to see how the producers put the movies together with that character whose significance was to maintain the existence of people. I wanted that to be how important I am to Hip-Hop and how important I am to music. Also in relation to that character, he couldn’t escape his destiny which was to help people to exist and I feel I can’t escape my destiny which is to help people through my music so I just really really related to that character.
So Jon, what influenced you to write your first rhyme?
Aw man, what influenced me? That’s crazy! [Laughs] When I would ride the bus when I was little, I had two friends that would battle and for the longest they would try and pass me the mic. So one day, I was like you know what? Forget it! I’m just gonna write a rap, spit it and shock everybody on the bus. And at 3 o’clock after school on the bus, I spit probably the worst bars I have ever [wrote] in my life, but we were all little kids so the whole bus went crazy. So what influenced me; was to do something that I didn’t think I could do and it was on after seeing all the kids on the bus going crazy. I knew that this was what I wanted to do!
So, I take it you were heavy on the lunchroom scene with rapping and beating on the tables?
Aw man. Aw man. Yes, after that first instance of me rhyming on the bus it was on beating on tables and all that. Just listening to Eminem, Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Pac, Pun. I was a big No Limit fan, so I became slowly engulfed in Hip-Hop after rhyming young. Anywhere they were trying to listen, I was rhyming.
When and how was your first performance/show?
My first performance was at a school talent show. I went to St. John Vianney in Flint. It was my two friends that got me to rhyme on the bus and me. We did the show, one of my friends were on the drums, and my other man had a verse, he was garbage too (laughing). We spit. It was terrible. We might have even got booed. We were 11 or 12 in the sixth grade, so it was a learning experience and that propelled me to go home and study this craft even more.
Well, the world knows now that you’ve certainly progressed.
Aw man Mark, thank you, man.
No doubt. So, how much planning goes into the direction of a song when you’re writing?
I approach original albums and mixtapes totally different. When I’m caught in a song I make sure I execute it the way that it is in my mind. I don’t harp too long in it but I definitely make sure it’s thought out. It’s crazy! Someone once told me that “your first mind is always your right mind” and when you start overlooking things that are like putting doubt into your mind as well as your idea.
Let’s jump into some of your previous projects and material… What inspired you to create the Best In the World mixtape series?
The Best In the World mixtape series? I was on the phone with my brother Sav and we were just talking and it hit me. It was an inspired thought that I looked at like “I want to be the best to ever do this. I want people to look back at my career and say that I was one of the greatest”. I felt what better way to do that then to pay homage to those who I came up listening to and who I feel [like] are the best in the world. What I did with this series is take their beats on my path to cover the greatest that have came before me and salute to them. I just wanted to do something that I haven’t heard before. With this series, I wanted to tribute and contribute a gem to Hip-Hop and no matter what I do I wanna make sure I’m not another rapper rapping because there are a million rappers. I always try and strive to something different from the rest.
What’s the next installment in the Best In the World series?
Man, you know what? (Laughs)
Or is it top secret? (Laughs)
I can’t even let the cat out of the bag until I come with it. I have an idea for the next two but I don’t want to put them out quite yet. When I do put them out, GrungeCake will be one of the first to know.
Can you elaborate on your song and video True Colors which was recently released?
True Colors is one of my favorite joints off of my Season 2 project which is all original material. I produced the joint. Honestly, we’re the voice of what’s going on in the “real world”. I try to use my voice to make people wake up and put the mirror in people’s faces. I’m not coming at people from a perspective of where I’m talking down on them or I’m their mother or father but shit is fucked up and sometimes we need a wake-up call. [We] need to look at the bigger picture and recognize the ugly truth of life and that’s what True Colors is. I don’t make a bunch of depressing music or a bunch of happy music all the time, I speak to the people and the video True Colors is just me showing people what’s going on and/or at least what’s taking place in Flint, MI. If we don’t address issues, these issues will keep getting worse and worse. Let’s be aware of what’s going on, not to harp on it, yeah let’s all have a good time, we can club and party because I like to club and party too, buts its like Yo, let’s be aware of what’s going on and through my gift and voice, I just want to make people aware and that’s more of what True Colors stands for.
To add on to that, I feel impelled to understand your movement whenever I get to see a performance of yours. The presence of your crew is tremendously felt and admired. It seems as if everyone that sports a Jon Connor shirt at your shows lives to help spread your message. That is rare these days. A lot of camps are cursed with disloyal crew members and individualism. I see none of that with your crew. I admire that!
And I appreciate that to the fullest. Thank you. And my crew, we’re all from Flint. From the bottom of the bottom, so when you grow up like that, it humbles you. It’s like whatever we have to do to collectively make this situation better, we’re going to do it! This crew is bigger than Jon Connor, more than music, we serve a bigger cause. We are family and that’s what keeps us focused and that’s what keeps selfishness and disloyalty non-factors within our crew.
I’ve pretty much covered all that I had for you, Jon. Oh, are you a fan of Dilla?
Ah, much respect! I’m from Michigan. Nothing but respect. Much respect, yes.
What’s the next thing for you Jon?
While You Were Sleeping, an all original project produced by my production team The Worlds Greatest Music slated for a July release. Dropping something every two months. I’m from Flint where we hold close to that blue-collar mentality, so I’m definitely putting work in.
I have just one last question… What was the first thing that popped into your head when you heard the name GrungeCake?
GRUNGECAKE? (Laughter) GRUNGECAKE… the first thing that I thought of honestly was Nirvana, the band. (Jon laughs again)
Thank you, Jon, it was a pleasure.
Thank you, Mark, I appreciate this.