FLINT, Michigan — On Wednesday, Jan. 24, Flint-born music artist and producer Jon Freeman, also known as Jon Connor, held an exclusive listening party for his newest album “III” at Longway Planetarium in Flint. Reserved for local media outlets and a group of Connor’s close friends and family members, the event gave an early preview of “III” before its release date of Tuesday, Jan. 30.
Those in attendance got to enjoy the full 21-track album under a vivid planetary backdrop displayed on Longway's 60-ft dome.
His decision to hold the listening party at the planetarium was rooted in nostalgia and his want to create an immersive experience for the album.
“Growing up in Flint, Michigan, we all can remember taking field trips to the planetarium, and it's always just been a cool place to go,” said Connor. “The aesthetic of the whole thing and the big dome and the stars fit the mood of the album. The album is one that you sit with and listen to the production, you listen to the words, and you have to take it in so I think that if I had it at a club or a bar or something like that, it would almost be contradictory to the material on the album. The planetarium fit the vibe and it was the perfect environment for that music.”
Jon Connor kicks off the listening party for his newest album "III" at Longway Planetarium in Flint on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
The album serves as the third and final project in Connor’s “The Calling” series which first introduced the world to his brand of conscious-driven lyricism and poignant storytelling from the scope of a young man born and raised on the north side of Flint.
He describes “III” as “an audio movie of where I am at this point of my life.” This statement rings true as the album's production and lyrical content take on a cinematic feel, displaying a more seasoned and introspective Connor as he addresses the current state of Hip-Hop, American culture, generational gaps, relationships, and spirituality.
“III” is also filled with intentional guest verses, vocals, and spoken-word pieces from an array of artists that help the album flow cohesively, from the slick intro “The Gospel According to Ron” to the uplifting outro titled “Last Laugh.”
Featured guests include Phire of Sister Tour
, Nikell Johnson, Stretch Money, Flawless, Khujo Goodie of Goodie Mob, Caas Swift, Bloque, Keke Palmer, Brelia Renee
, DFFRnt, Enjoy Melody, Ricky Calloway, Mr. Nuby, Mr. Mikey, Cam Howe
, and Reya Gaines.
Attendees enjoy music under a vivid planetary backdrop at Jon Connor's listening party for his newest album "III" at Longway Planetarium in Flint on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (Tia Scott | Flintside)
A song on "III" that stands out to Connor is “The Greatest Show on Earth/Bid You Adieu” which tackles the illusion of the entertainment industry and the addictive nature of social media.
“The Greatest Show on Earth/Bid You Adieu” featuring Mr. Mikey stands out to me because I think show business looks so pretty from the outside looking in, and “Greatest Show” kind of pulls the curtain back on show business and allows the listener to see that everything that glitters isn't gold,” said Connor. “Mr. Mikey's performance at the end is just beautiful. I'm very proud of that record because I think that for me, that is what music should be. It should be a conversation piece. It should create dialogue for people.”
A large image of Saturn is displayed during Jon Connor's listening party for his newest album "III" at Longway Planetarium in Flint on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (Tia Scott | Flintside)
When asked what makes "III" different from his many other projects throughout the years, Connor explained that his personal and spiritual growth played a major factor.
“I think what makes this project different than the last few ‘SOS’ projects and ‘Delirium’ would be that I was still trying to find myself and how to express my spirituality artistically,” said Connor. “I was still searching for a way that made me comfortable — in a way that I felt like my audience was able to grow with me, and I think that those albums were my growth process to get to “III.” With “III,” I am fully aware and capable of expressing myself and everything that I want to express in a way that makes me comfortable. I want to I think that I [have] fully grown into the artist that I would like to be.”
Jon Connor embraces a proud friend at the listening party for his newest album "III" at Longway Planetarium in Flint on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Listeners can purchase and stream “III” from Connor’s EVEN artist account
which has a ‘pay what you want’ option as well as exclusive merch and access to his music videos and documentary. In addition to the album, Connor also gives die-hard fans a special treat by offering an autographed physical CD and handwritten 'Thank You' card for $50.
But Connor's music train doesn't stop at "III" as he plans to deliver more projects and content this year.
“After this, me and the legendary KLC from Beats by the Pound have our project “24” coming out in April/May, sometime around there. In July/August, I have a project called “Food for the Soul” coming. After that, me and Enrgy Beats, who's from Flint, have a project coming. My YouTube channel
is about to start having an abundance of content. There's a lot of shorts and a lot of little online shows that I'm about to start producing and writing and doing so I'm just looking forward to it. But on the music front, I’m just trying to drop projects every two months and I just hope everybody enjoys it.”
For more Jon Connor and to stream his new album, visit: even.biz/releases/iii
And also find him on Instagram and Twitter.