Having grown up in a musical household, it was only fitting that the movie buff Jon Freeman, Jr. put on his best “Jon Connor” alter-ego in this rap game to save it from subpar quality. Having invested over five years of hard work, generating a buzz and dropping projects, Jon Connor has officially claimed 2011 to be his year. After the release of his Vinnie Chase: Season One mixtape and gaining hip-hop co-signs from legends such as Nas and Scarface, Connor caught the attention of rap fans from all coasts and regions And just like the fictional character in the movie Terminator, Jon Connor enforces himself as a challenge to those threatening Hip Hop.
This Flint, Michigan rapper continues to flood the Internet and blog sites with his music.Why? Simply because of his love and passion for music ever since he first came out of his mother’s womb. With ‘Vinnie Chase: Season Two’ set to be released in the fall, this rap rookie refuses to have his show cancelled. —Connie T.
VIBE: For those that are still sleeping on you, how would you describe your sound and style? Who has influenced it the most?
Jon Connor: For one, to describe my sound, I guess I’d say [it’s] emotional, heartfelt, passionate music. So whatever type of record I do, I want to make sure that I put that emotion into it to the fullest. If it’s a record about relationships, I want to make you reminisce about your first break-up through my words and my production. [Laughs] If it’s a song where I’m talking about just bettering yourself and spreading positivity, then it’s going to make you want to turn it up full volume on sunny days just riding through your city. So I guess I classify my music as just passionate and emotional. I pride myself on not having a regional ear; I don’t want to classify myself as south, east, west or Midwest. It’s music… It’s good music for all people; just emotional, human music. Raw emotions.
As far as influences, I grew up in a music household. My father played the guitar, piano, drums… So he would probably be one of my earliest musical influences. Just growing up, I listened to everything from Prince to Doobie Brothers to Dave Matthews Band to Jay-Z to Kanye to No Limit. Wherever good music was, I was there… My ears were there. I never shut my ears off to anything that was good. It doesn’t matter what type of music it is, whether it’s rock, pop, alternative, hip hop; my first love is music. Period.
Before, it used to be that you had to be from LA or NY to even get someone to listen to your music. Now we have XV repping Kansas, Yelawolf for Alabama & of course, you with Flint, Michigan. Why do you think this is finally happening? And why did it take so long?
I don’t know. I think now today’s Hip Hop audience is more receptive to different sounds. We’re living in a time now where anything goes. People want to hear something new. [Laughs] They just want to hear something good no matter where you’re from or whatever. A lot of times certain regions have dominated just by what was out there and what was on the radio and what was being bought. I think right now people just want to hear good music no matter where it is at. Because of that, a lot of us new artists are getting a chance to share light on where we’re from and speak from a different perspective and just give our take on hip hop. It’s a beautiful thing.
When did you first realize that you wanted to make rap your career?
I was born like this! I wanted to be an entertainer/a musician/an artist ever since I was born. It’s funny actually… My mom always tells the story of how my first words were “Bob Barker” and I think that was my way of saying I’m going to be on that TV one day. That’s where I want to be at. That’s funny; it wasn’t “mom” or “daddy”… It was “Bob Barker”. [Laughs] I didn’t know it at the time, but he was standing there with a mic in his hand. So it’s like that’s what I wanted to be. I wanted to be on TV. I wanted to entertain. Ever since I was born and came into this earth, I’ve always had a lot to say. I’ve always been very opinionated. There was never a time where I didn’t want to do this. It’s crazy. I guess you can say I wrote my first rhyme seriously when I was in like 5th – 6th grade.
What would you say is the first song that made you fall in love with hip-hop?
I remember… and I’m not just saying this because he’s from there, [and] rest in peace to MC Breed. “Ain’t No Future In Yo Frontin” by MC Breed, [who’s] our legend from Flint, Michigan, our guy that really put Flint on the map. That was the first rap song I knew the majority of words to. I was five then, so I can’t say I knew all the words, but I knew enough cause I was making stuff up when I didn’t know what he was saying. [Laughs] But that was the first rap song that I really knew the words to. Along with that, “What’s My Name” by Snoop Doggy Dogg. [Laughs] Those are the two songs that were “Oh man, I love this. This is what’s up!” Oh and one more! DJ Quik “Born and Raised in Compton”! Those three; I know you asked for one, but these three equally had a big influence on me.
A lot of people do this rap thing for a living, some for the fame. What would you say your ultimate goal is? What are you trying to accomplish or chase after?
The thing that’s funny about that is that I love music. It’s funny to me; music is my passion, it’s my drive, it’s everything to me. I’m definitely not one of those cats that are in it for the checks because if I was, I would have quit a long time ago. If they didn’t pay to make music, I would still do it. That’s how much I love it. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like it’s a job because it feels like this is what I was born to do.
So I guess my main goal through music is to spread positive energy, spread love, give people something to listen to when they’re going through ups and downs and trials and tribulations. I don’t want to make anything shallow. I’m a human so I’m always going to make different type of records. But at the end of the day, I want to have a legacy like Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jay, Kanye, Eminem. I want to go down in that list of people that made great music. All-around great music. Not just great hip hop music, but great music, period. That’s the legacy I want to build and I want to maintain and have, no matter how hard or how long the road is.
My name is Jon Connor because just like the character in the movie, I feel like this is my destiny. This is what I’m supposed to do. So at the end of the day, I have a love for the art form, not for the money that comes along with it. I mean, that’s cool… I’ll do that too [Laughs] But it’s like, first and foremost, I have a love for the art form; I have a love for music, period. At the end of the day, I want to spread positivity through my music and be one of the artists at the end of the day that made a statement and is a legend.
Now I know you said you’d be doing music even if you weren’t getting money from it..
But, if you weren’t doing music, what would your back-up plan be?
Oh my god, you sound like my dad.
That’s what my dad said to me at 18. [Laughs]… “Now son, what’s going to be your back-up plan?” And I guess my answer at 26 is the same answer as back then… This is it. Music, music, music. But if we were speaking hypothetically, it would still be something involved in entertainment. I’d probably be writing movies or writing sitcoms, which I plan on doing anyways still. But yeah, that’s funny. That’s the exact