“Back in the day, you’d do an album in a year, you were straight. Now you gotta drop a song every day to be great. Then, niggas start falling off just tryin’ to keep up the pace and in a sense, it devalues all of the music we make.” –Jon Connor, “8 Mile Road”
It’s daring for Jon Connor to tackle the subject of mixtape overindulgence in this manner on a mixtape. However, it’s fitting for Connor to be daring. He’s already faced the challenge of rhyming over beats Jay-Z made famous in a previous tape [last year’s The Blue Album]. Now, on The People’s Rapper LP, he does the same over beats Eminem has popularized. As part of his “Best in the World” series, it’s only right for Connor to bring that daring approach to the microphone, but how does this translate to the music?
The musical accompaniment, as mentioned, is all derived from Eminem’s catalog, so the weight lies heavily on the shoulders of Connor’s lyricism. Detractors may gripe about the lack of original instrumentals but it’s hard to knock it when it’s part of the tape’s concept. Here, Connor lends his own spin on Em’s tracks. For instance, “Stan” becomes a trio of tribute letters to Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., and MC Breed. “Cleaning Out My Closet” becomes an ode to non-believers in and out of his circle. “Hard to control your emotions when the lack of support comes from the ones who the closest,” he rhymes over piercing production from Em and Jeff Bass. Tracks like “25 to Life,” “The Way I Am,” “Til I Collapse” and “Lose Yourself” prove Connor can rhyme with a concentrated fury, flip multisyllabic patterns and switch flows within verses. True to its title, Connor proves he can rhyme in a way that relates to the struggling artist and the everyday person, but that’s not to say this tape is flawless.
The only flaws stem from some of the repetition the opening quote acknowledges can take place when dropping tapes at a high rate. Throughout, Connor constantly comments on the state of the industry, which he sees as deprived and his status within the game, which he sees as unjust and momentary. The problem is he does this far too often with little change. While he remains sound lyrically, it’s difficult not to wish for varied subject matter. Though this doesn’t take away from his delivery or lyricism, it’s still important to note. However, Connor promises this shouldn’t be a problem for long. “A mixtape is a vehicle for reaching my goal but my albums is a piece of my soul,” he warns on the aforementioned “8 Mile Road,” before adding, “Get ready.” The promising People’s Rapper LP has managed to grab the people’s attention. From Em and Jon, we know this opportunity comes but once in a lifetime. So now the question is, how will Connor use it?
DX Consensus: “EP-worthy”