Jon Connor

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Jon Connor
JonConnorASQ.jpg
Background information
Birth name Jon Kevin Freeman Jr.
Born (1985-04-13) April 13, 1985 (age 29)
Origin Flint, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper, producer
Years active 2005–present
Labels All Varsity Music, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records
Associated acts Blue City Club, Chris Webby, Dr Dre
Website twitter.com/JonConnorMusic

Jon Kevin Freeman Jr. (born April 13, 1985) is an American rapper and producer, better known by his stage name Jon Connor. Jon Connor has released various mixtapes during his career including the Jay-Z inspired The Blue Album, and the Eminem inspired The People's Rapper LP. He released his debut studio album, Unconscious State, independently on July 2, 2013. During October 2013, Connor revealed during the year's BET Hip Hop Awards that he had signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment, which is distributed by Interscope Records.

Early life[edit]

Jon Connor was born Jon Freeman Jr. on April 13, 1985 in Flint, Michigan. He is the son of Mahley and Jon Freeman Sr. His father, who served as one of his earliest musical influences, was an accomplished musician turned Christian minister. Jon Connor began producing and songwriting at the young age of 10. In middle school he began selling his own mixtapes out of his backpack and from the trunk of his mother's car. With the support of his mother, at the age of 14 he founded his own independent record label named All Varsity Music. By 16, Connor had financed and created an in-house studio with money he earned through odd jobs in the neighborhood.[1] He graduated from Flint Powers Catholic High School.[2] He said he grew up listening to Genesee County acts such as Top Authority, The Dayton Family and MC Breed.[3]

Musical career[edit]

2005-2010: Beginnings and early mixtapes[edit]

On January 1, 2005, Jon Connor released his first official mixtape, The Calling, Pt. 1: The Prequel.[4] He followed that with another mixtape Everybody Hates Connor in 2006.[5][6] Then he released his third mixtape, The Calling Pt. 2: The Second Coming in 2008.[6][7] In 2009 he would link up with basketball player Mateen Cleaves, then later basketball player Jason Richardson, and Kendall "Young Sav" Freeman, vice president of rapper Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group record label to official start a record label. All who currently either run or co-own it.[8][9] On September 29, 2010, Connor released his fourth mixtape, the Entourage-inspired, Jon Connor as Vinnie Chase: Season One.[7] Jon Connor as Vinnie Chase: Season One was produced primarily by Connor and All Varsity Music producer Optiks. Rappers Saigon and Consequence would be featured on the remix to his song "The Message".[6]

2011: Salvation and Season 2[edit]

On July 12, 2011, Jon Connor released Salvation, a collaboration album with producer Rob "Reef" Tewlow, who has produced for 50 Cent and Bad Meets Evil in the past.[10][11] The album was met with positive reviews from music critics.[11][12] William E. Ketchum III of HipHopDX stated, "Salvation undeniably showcases a sincerity and hunger that are tough to find in much of Hip Hop today. If Jon Connor continues to build on the skill set he already has, living up to his fictional namesake shouldn't be so far off."[12] Later in 2011, Connor was in talks to sign with Def Jam Recordings, however that deal fell through.[6] On December 12, 2011, Connor released his fifth mixtape, a sequel to Jon Connor as Vinnie Chase: Season One, titled Season 2. The mixtape featured guest appearances from GLC and Freeway.[13] The mixtape garnered 130,000 downloads on Bandcamp within three months.[8]

2012: The "Best in the World" series and While You Were Sleeping[edit]

On February 14, 2012, Jon Connor released The Blue Album, a mixtape featuring him rapping over various Jay-Z instrumentals from the three Blueprint albums, The Blueprint, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse and The Blueprint 3.[14][15] The mixtape title is also a play on words, referencing Blue City Club a group he leads. The collective consists of Mickey Wallace, Caas Swift, Brandon Bars, Lia Mack and D. Wayne, who are all prominently featured on the mixtape.[8] He told MTV that he wrote the whole mixtape in four days.[15] Adam Fleischer of XXL gave the mixtape a positive review saying, "Lyrically, Connor is a clever artist that is able to weave words together and astonish without simply relying on punchlines. In this case, it’s not a huge issue the amount of times we’ve all heard cuts like "The Ruler's Back" or "U Don’t Know," because Connor's lyrics, energy and microphone presence make every song sound fresh. His interpretations of "Never Change," "Poppin Tags" and "Song Cry" are some of the tape’s best efforts."[16]

On April 13, 2012, Jon Connor released the second installment of his "Best in the World" mixtape series, The People's Rapper LP, which features him entirely rapping over classic Eminem instrumentals. The mixtape was executive produced and hosted by Don Cannon, also featuring guest appearances by his Blue City Club cohorts.[17][18][19][20] The People's Rapper LP was met with positive reviews, with Andres Vasquez of HipHopDX deeming it "EP-worthy."[21] Following the release of The People's Rapper LP, Connor toured the Midwest United States with rapper Big K.R.I.T..[22]

On July 26, 2012, Connor released his eighth mixtape, While You Were Sleeping, featuring guest appearances by Bun B, Mistah Fab, GLC, Kid Ink, and Killa Kyleon among others.[23][24] Unlike his previous two releases, While You Were Sleeping featured all original instrumentals produced by Connor and his production team, The World's Greatest Music, and Brix. Connor called While You Were Sleeping his most introspective work to date.[22] Edwin Ortiz of HipHopDX gave the mixtape a positive review saying, "While You Were Sleeping is arguably the most complete project Jon Connor has released since Vinnie Chase: Season One, and is a great starting point if you’ve slept on his music. In a nitpickers world the track list could have been shortened up, but at this point the more Connor gives listeners, the better."[25] During late 2012 to early 2013, Jon Connor toured with American rapper Xzibit, who eventually led him to meeting legendary producer Dr. Dre.[3][26]

2013–present: Unconscious State and signing to Aftermath Entertainment[edit]

Main article: Unconscious State

In early 2013, Jon Connor revealed that he was working on various projects including, first, his debut studio album Unconscious State, then Unsung Heroes LP a collaboration album with rapper Chris Webby, his second studio album and a collaboration album with Ski Beatz.[27] On July 2, 2013, Jon Connor released Unconscious State under All Varsity Music.[28] The album featured guest appearances by Danny Brown, Chris Webby, Freddie Gibbs, Royce da 5'9", Talib Kweli and Smoke DZA among others.[29] Production was handled by Connor himself, Mr. Porter, Brix and Optiks among others.[27][30] The album was supported by the singles, "Michigan Shit" featuring Royce da 5'9" and "Rise Up" featuring Talib Kweli.[28][31] Upon its release the album peaked at number 35 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and number seven on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums charts.[28]

On July 20, 2013, it was revealed that Jon Connor had recently been in the studio with Dr. Dre.[32][33] Connor told MTV that the two immediately had chemistry in the studio, and after vibing in their over the following months, Dre signed Connor to his record label Aftermath Entertainment, which is distributed by Interscope Records.[34] At the end of his freestyle during a cypher at the taping of the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards on September 29, Jon Connor revealed that he had signed to Dre's Aftermath Entertainment.[35][36] He said he chose to announce then because, "I was thinking, 'How can I end this? How can I make this a moment?' This was my first time doing the cypher and I wanted to make it a moment. I ran it by Dre and he was like, 'Yo, that's dope.'"[34] His freestyle during the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards was well-praised, including being named the third best of the night, by XXL.[2][37]

On March 18, 2014, Connor released another installment in his "Best in the World" series, the surprise mixtape The Late Registration of a College Dropout Who Had a Dark Twisted Fantasy of 808s and Heartbreak.[38] Like his other Best in the World mixtapes, The Late Registration of a College Dropout Who Had a Dark Twisted Fantasy of 808s and Heartbreak was met with positive reviews from music critics.[39][40] Jordan Lebeau of XXL said, "armed with beats by ‘Ye and his own mastery of his voice, story, point of view and sense of humor, Jon Connor lets not a single track disappoint, no small feat considering the shoes he decided to try on for size. It’s a welcome addition to his growing catalog."[41] Then he released another mixtape, BestInTheWorld: A Tribute To The Notorious B.I.G. Vol 1 on April 14, 2014, featuring Connor rapping over beats from The Notorious B.I.G. songs.[42] Connor was also chosen for the 2014 XXL freshman class.[43]

Musical style[edit]

His gritty lyricism has earned praise from rappers such as Busta Rhymes, The Game, Scarface, Nas, Rick Ross and fellow Michigan-native Big Sean.[6]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
US US R&B/HH US Rap
Unconscious State 35 24
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

Collaboration albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
US US R&B/HH US Rap
Salvation (with Rob "Reef" Tewlow)
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

Mixtapes[edit]

  • 2005: The Calling Pt. 1
  • 2006: Everybody Hates Connor
  • 2008: The Calling Pt. 2: The Second Coming
  • 2010: Jon Connor As Vinnie Chase: Season 1
  • 2011: Season 2
  • 2012: The Blue Album
  • 2012: The People's Rapper LP
  • 2012: While You Were Sleeping
  • 2014: BestInTheWorld: The Late Registration of a College Dropout Who Had a Dark Twisted Fantasy of 808s and Heartbreak
  • 2014: BestInTheWorld: A Tribute To The Notorious B.I.G. Vol. 1

Singles[edit]

As lead artist[edit]

List of singles as lead performer, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US US
R&B
US
Rap
"High"[44] 2011 N/A
"Pull the Plug"[45] (featuring Statik Selektah) 2013 N/A
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "HHW Artist Of The Month Jon Connor To Drop Exclusive T-Shirt All Star Weekend!! | Hip Hop Weekly Magazine". Hiphopweekly.com. 2013-02-11. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  2. ^ a b Daunt, Josh. "Flint rapper Jon Connor signs with Aftermath Entertainment - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI". Abc12.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  3. ^ a b William E. Ketchum III. "Jon Connor announces deal with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment at BET Hip Hop Awards". MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  4. ^ "The Calling, Pt. 1: The Prequel [Platinum Edition] by Jon Connor". MTV. 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  5. ^ "Everybody Hates Connor - Jon Connor | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Arnold, Paul W (2011-01-12). "Jon Connor Talks Nas' Co-Sign, Possibly Signing To A Major Label | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  7. ^ a b Beware (2010-09-29). "Jon Connor Starring As Vinnie Chase | The Smoking Section". Smokingsection.uproxx.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  8. ^ a b c William E. Ketchum III (2012-02-14). "Flint rapper Jon Connor talks concept, favorites of latest mixtape "The Blue Album" (Video)". MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  9. ^ Patrick Hayes. "Basketball star Mateen Cleaves gets into the music business, managing Flint hip-hop artist Jon Connor". MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  10. ^ "iTunes - Music - Salvation by Jon Connor". Itunes.apple.com. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  11. ^ a b Greg Whitt (2011-07-28). ""F.L.I. 69" - Review Of Jon Connor's Salvation | The Smoking Section". Smokingsection.uproxx.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  12. ^ a b Ketchum, William E. (2011-07-14). "Jon Connor - Salvation | Read Hip Hop Reviews, Rap Reviews & Hip Hop Album Reviews". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  13. ^ Posted By: damaya919 (2011-12-12). "New Mixtape: Jon Connor Season 2". Rap Radar. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  14. ^ "Jon Connor Drops New Mixtape, The Blue Album [Download Now] - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  15. ^ a b 03/15/2012 21:23:00 (2012-03-15). "Jay-Z's Blueprint Inspires Jon Connor To Be 'The Best' - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  16. ^ "Jon Connor, The Blue Album - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  17. ^ Ahmadi, Kevin. "New Mixtape: Jon Connor – "The People’s Rapper LP" : RESPECT". Respect-mag.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  18. ^ Beware (2012-04-13). "Jon Connor - The People's Rapper LP | The Smoking Section". Smokingsection.uproxx.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  19. ^ "Jon Connor Drops New Mixtape The People's Rapper LP, [Download Now] - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  20. ^ "Jon Connor and Don Cannon - The People's Rapper LP [DOWNLOAD]". Hip-Hop Wired. 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  21. ^ Vasquez, Andres (2012-04-19). "Jon Connor - The People's Rapper LP (Mixtape Review)". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  22. ^ a b Sean Work. "Jon Connor gets personal for upcoming album 'While You Were Sleeping'". The Flint Journal. MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  23. ^ "Jon Connor- While You Were Sleepin [DOWNLOAD]". Hip-Hop Wired. 2012-07-26. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  24. ^ B.Dot (2012-07-26). "New Mixtape: Jon Connor While You Were Sleeping". Rap Radar. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  25. ^ Ortiz, Edwin (2012-08-03). "Jon Connor - While You Were Sleeping (Mixtape Review)". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  26. ^ William E. Ketchum III. "Jon Connor talks time with six-time Grammy winner Dr. Dre and 'Detox'". MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  27. ^ a b "Jon Connor Speaks On 'Unconscious State' LP, Working With Chris Webby, And The Genius Of Cyndi Lauper". Vibe. 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  28. ^ a b c William E. Ketchum III. "Jon Connor makes Billboard charts debut with album 'Unconscious State'". MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  29. ^ "Jon Connor's Unconscious State Is All About 'Having Fun' - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  30. ^ "Jon Connor - Unconscious State - Stream". Djbooth.net. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  31. ^ "Jon Connor ft. Royce Da 5'9 – "Michigan Sh*t" [LISTEN/DOWNLOAD[". Hip-Hop Wired. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  32. ^ "Jon Connor in the Studio With Dr. Dre". Fashionably Early. 2013-07-20. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  33. ^ "Dr. Dre Signs Jon Connor To Aftermath". Rap Radar. 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  34. ^ a b 10/16/2013 00:00:00 (2013-10-16). "Jon Connor's Record Deal With Dr. Dre Isn't About The Money - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  35. ^ "Jon Connor Talks Signing To Aftermath, Working with Dr. Dre & More". TheSource. 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  36. ^ "Meet Jon Connor, The Rapper Who Set The 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards On Fire - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  37. ^ "Ranking The 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher Verses - Page 23 of 25 - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  38. ^ http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/flint/index.ssf/2014/03/jon_connor_spontaneously_relea.html
  39. ^ http://www.bet.com/news/music/2014/03/24/mixtape-review-jon-connor-the-late-registration-of-a-college-dropout.html
  40. ^ http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/album-reviews/id.2248/title.jon-connor-best-in-the-world-mixtape-
  41. ^ http://www.xxlmag.com/rap-music/reviews/2014/03/jon-connor-best-in-the-world-mixtape-review/
  42. ^ http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2014/04/premiere-jon-connor-a-tribute-to-the-notorious-b-i-g-vol-1-mixtape/
  43. ^ http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2014/05/xxl-freshmen-2014-cover-revealed/
  44. ^ "iTunes - Music - High - Single by Jon Connor". Itunes.apple.com. 2011-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  45. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/pull-plug-feat.-statik-selektah/id723188723