Ron Jon is a rapper in his late 20’s out of Grandville, Michigan. He recently released a project (August 2019) called, “I Got It – Unloaded,” and from that project, I will be reviewing his single, “Be Yourself.”
The single feels a little bit like a throw-back to late 2000’s underground hip hop. Think, Tone Def, Substantial, and even some of the early Nerd Core rappers. He also sounds a little like Token in his flows. But don’t bring that up with Ron, because Token started out being the poor man’s Eminem, and Ron Jon has made it very clear he’s not another Eminem. Shame. In a part of verse one (which feels weirdly like a hook, but isn’t), Ron Jon says, “I just wanna be myself in a world of clones/ not another Eminem/ see I don’t do it for the pesos/ see I got my own style/ and I rock my own flow/ but I’m looking like an alien/ trying to find my way home.” Well, he’s right. He’s not another Eminem. Nowhere near, but there’s plenty of merit here if you look for it. In one of his opening lines, he says, “Wake up in the morning after staying up all night/ in the studio, and do you know I’m getting ready for the spotlight.” I like this line because I can really relate to it. He has this as a recurring theme in many tracks from this project, and it shows up several more times in the song “Straitjacket.” I like it when artists rep hard work and dedication to their craft. This “light work” business has got to stop because it’s not making better music. As soon as it becomes cool to not care about what you’re doing, we are going to have a whole slew of un-listenable tracks. I applaud his lyricism, as that is also a dying art in the industry that I’d like to revive. But there’s something about him that feels a little forced, and some of his anger and bravado feels a little gratuitous. An artist named Danny Polo does the chorus. He has a falsetto style with an almost Michael Jackson wispiness to the sound. But it doesn’t seem to match the song style, or the beat that well. Though Danny is talented, it would be better if they had done some more vocal production on his voice, and also had it sit above the mix a little more. It’s almost cringey the way it sits under the strings in the main melody. It’s mostly the production on this song that makes it feel stuck in the late 2000’s underground. This can be easily fixed, and if Ron Jon concentrates his efforts there, I think he’ll go far.
There are some specific problems with the production in this song. There’s a filtered outro effect on the last words of the song, and, in general, I like this effect, but it was poorly done here. It was too boxy of a filter and too dramatic of a shift between the main production and the outro sequence. A full beat drop may have been better as opposed to also filtering the drums. Filtering the drums with the vocals just seems lazy to be honest. Also, after listening to his whole album, I noticed this song is actually quite a bit quieter than the rest of the tracks.
Having seamless mastering for all of your tracks is the hallmark that separates the amateur from the professional. Also, the strings that make up the majority of the melodic component are a nice thought, but a bit repetitive and could use some work in terms of frequency filtering and basic EQ/ compression chain. They sit a little high and bright in the mix. Also, this somewhat dates him to that 2000’s nerdcore style. Ron Jon is an artist who appears to have achieved some mid-level notoriety in the underground, but, between a regimented work-out routine and what appears to be a new baby he has just had, his attention might just be divided right now. There’s a lot of little mistakes in production and a lack of commitment in his voice. It sounds at times like he’s doing an impression of his old self. He would probably benfit a lot from cutting back on his work out routine and focusing on music. I’ve always believed you can do many things well, or one thing really, really well. If he wants to improve his music, giving it a little more of his attention and ramping up the budget for the production is probably the way to go. His lyricism is on point, and his sound is passable. I think he may just need to reconsider where his priorities lie. I await his returned focus and subsequent success in this industry.