When you think about Country Rap, Jon Conner might not be the first name that pops into your head. Chances are, however, that name that you thought of has Jon Conner’s thumbprints all over them. He produced Big Smo’s “Kickin’ It In Tennessee”, along with Smo’s major label debut, Kuntry Livin’ (which he also co-wrote), but his story doesn’t even start there. With over a decade in the music business, his new compilation, All My Rowdy Friends, is a showcase of his talent, his new devotion to the burgeoning Country Rap scene, and he’s brought some of the friends’ hes made along the way for the ride. That ride is a soundtrack that rivals any compilation you’ll hear in 2015, and its only a sample of what’s to come.
‘All My Rowdy Friends’ is a 14 song soundtrack that features David Ray, Bubba Sparxxx, Forsaken, Mic Manik, Danny Boone, Charlie Bonnet III, Bottleneck, Johnny Knight, Jelly Roll, Alexander King, and Curiosity Killz (Another Conner Project). You’ll also hear Conner himself spit some mad bars throughout the soundtrack. Conner’s the total package, he can produce as well as anyone in the business in any genre, and he’s bad as hell on the mic. He’s got a more traditional hip hop sound when he’s delivering his vocals, but his production could be classified as a genre unto itself.
From the first track (“Champion” Featuring David Ray and co-produced by Danny Rich, a producer at Dammit Boy), you’ll notice Conner doesn’t use samples. The tracks are banging, but it’s all real. This not only makes for a better song, in my humble opinion, it makes for a better performed live show. There’s not a track on All My Rowdy Friends that isn’t straight fire; from the bottom to the top this is a production master stroke.
I’ve talked about the Forsaken song “Errybody In The Mudd” in a previous post, but this one has turned out to be one of my favorite songs of 2015. The beat is phenomenal, and its the best performance I’ve heard from Forsaken. I love the scratching that comes throughout the soundtrack, and I hope we hear more of that in Country Rap
Another song off the compilation is Jelly Roll’s “Columbus” which uses a great beat a full-band sound and, of course there’s Jelly Roll on the vocals. The first 3 songs alone make this album worth the purchase.
Alexander King takes a turn on “Gotta Learn The Hard Way” a bluesy masterpiece that talks of life’s lessons; this one’s an absolute hit.
“Here We Go” is the 2nd contribution on All My Rowdy Friends, and you won’t put David Ray, Bubba Sparxxx and Jon Conner together without coming out with a little magic. A rocking track with a hard-hitting beat, this is one of my favorites on the soundtrack.
Mic Manik is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists, and though I reviewed Manik’s “Redneck” before, it’s worth mentioning again. A straight-up rocking number with mammoth beats and a guitar riff that is pure metal. That’s DJ Orig scratching (he does all the scratching on the album). “Redneck” sounds like the kinda fusion rap/rock I heard back in the 90s, but this track isn’t looking backwards. It’s another track that makes All My Rowdy Friends so great.
“Raw Dog” is what I’d expect to come from a collaboration between Motley Crue, Bubba Sparxxx (who’s featured on the track), and a great club DJ. This one’s got something for everybody. Some of the most intense scratching on the soundtrack is on “Raw Dog”, and mixed with the heavy rock sound and booming beat, this one’s a classic. The song features J. Hollet, a longtime collaborator with Conner and he’s also from Delaware.
“Grafiti on a Train” (feat. Danny Boone) is one of the more laid back tracks on the album, and it features Bubba Sparxxx waxing poetic about being shunned by the mainstream rap community when he was starting out, and it’s got a vibe made for Danny Boone’s voice. As one of the more introspective songs on All My Rowdy Friends, “Grafiti on a Train” shows the artists’ range, and shows that Jon Conner knows how to go from the banging, bad-ass songs heard most of the rest of the soundtrack, to a beautiful composition that you might hear on a mainstream country hit.
“Ridin'” and “You Ain’t Tellin’ Me Nothin'” are both pretty much all Jon Conner (though “You Ain’t Tellin’ Me Nothin'” features Average Joe’s spitter J. Rosevelt and David Ray), and within these songs, he shows his skills on the mic more predominately than he does on any of the other tracks on the compilation. One listen to both tracks makes me wonder if we’d be hearing Conner on Hip Hop radio everywhere in the country if he’d taken a different route. He’s got the talent; maybe too much to be bound by a singular moniker like “rapper”.
“Break Me Down” with I4NI and Lee Lee uses a slide guitar to twang up the track and this song has some of the best verses on the entire album. It’s another one of my favorites.
Dammit Boy Entertainment artist Charlie Bonnet III makes an appearance on All My Rowdy Friends in the form of “1983” another retrospective song from the acclaimed singer. Already my favorite CB3 song, this one doesn’t have any rapping in it, but it belongs on this soundtrack. Hell, you’ll never go wrong putting CB3 on your record.
Bottleneck lends his voice to Conner on the album, and “Gritty” is a classic Bottleneck song full of great lyrics delivered flawlessly from a Country Rap pioneer. Conner’s touch is evident with the guitar riff and bumping bass. This is another reason that anyone who purchases this soundtrack will be glad they did. Nobody comes harder than Bottleneck, and “Gritty” is another example of why fans all over the world clamor for new music from the Florida rapper. Combined with the hot track, produced by Jon Conner, this is a banger you don’t want to miss.
David Ray, as usual, shines throughout the album when he hits the tracks on ‘All My Rowdy Friends’. Ray has has a unique delivery that oozes southern slang, and his delivery is both laid-back and aggressive at the same time. He teamed up with Conner for a couple of hooks on this album, and everything he’s on sounds better for his part of the project
Jon Conner has been involved with the music in some form or another for over 15 years, and has worked with noteable names like producer Self Service (DMX, Big Pun, Nas) Bobby Pinson and a personal favorite of mine Rhett Akins which gives him a pedigree like no other in the music business. With the advent of his new record label, Dammit Boy, with his business partner David Ray and he’s taken a risk that puts him in charge of his destiny.
With the soundtrack he’s put together for All My Rowdy Friends, I have no doubt we have a empire in the making.