Jon Connor Calls Flint’s Poisoned Water “Population Control” (Audio)
Jon Connor is a native of Flint, Michigan, a town currently being ravaged by the fallout resulting from water poisoning. After city officials opted to save money by sourcing water from the local Flint River rather than the Great Lakes, high levels of lead began to appear in residents’ tap water, and many reports suggest a massive cover-up campaign to prevent any knowledge of such poisoning from becoming public information. Flint’s story has become a nationally covered ordeal, so much so that Hip-Hop artists like Puff Daddy, Big Sean, the Game, Meek Mill, and others have donated money and resources to those affected by the crisis. Despite not hailing from the area, their contributions speak volumes about the vast outrage sparked by the goings on in Flint, however Connor’s recent release proves that there is no greater outrage than that felt by the city’s own residents.
Signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath imprint, Jon Connor made an appearance on the Game’s immensely successful album The Documentary 2, but Heads may also recognize the name from his collabs with fellow Michiganders Slum Village and his 2013 debut album Unconscious State which featured Freddie Gibbs, Royce da 5’9″, Talib Kweli, and others. He’s maintained a low profile, material wise, since its release, hopping on tracks with other artists but earlier yesterday (January 28) he dropped a loosie, evidently so deeply moved by the troubles his hometown is facing that he had to record a cut in protest. “Fresh Water for Flint” features singer Keke Palmer and it is a passionate and unbridled series of powerful bars aimed at those who poisoned his neighbors. Featuring records which quote a man arguing that the Flint water crisis is unfairly affecting poor people of color, it’s clear Connor is taking this tragedy as a personal offense, not only aimed in his direction, but in the direction of his loved ones and his community. Produced by the Fr3shmen, the track’s aggressive verses set the tone with urgency, as Connor rails “Like I’ma watch y’all kill my city and you wasn’t gon’ get a reaction? Fuck no,” and “Oh I’m ‘posed to not say shit ’bout the fact there’s poisons all in our water?/It look like population control/They don’t give a fuck, well that’s how I call it.” He laments the fact that “more kids go to jail than to colleges” and frames the water crisis within the context of other examples of systematically institutionalized forms of racism that have troubled his city and those like it for generations. References to the many, many years his parents worked in the city only to be turned on is a painful memory that is readily apparent in Connor’s voice. Palmer’s mighty vocals add a Gospel-like element to the song’s DNA, and a closing sample of a news report documenting Flint residents’ deaths from diseases allegedly connected to lead poisoning gives the song a harrowing end note. It’s difficult to hear the track and silence any resentment towards the guilty parties.
Flint, Michigan may be one city in a sprawling country, but like Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Sandra Bland represented any one of us, Flint’s water crisis is ours, too.