Jon-C: New album, becoming a Winnipeg Boy and 11 p.m. curfew
Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg’s Heatbag Records co-founder and MC, William “Jon-C” Pierson, has been full of triumph and defeat. Though he’s recently gained media attention for his legal troubles and brushes against the law, Jon-C remains dedicated to the game and maintains nothing but love for his hometown. “I’m patriotic about the north side of Winnipeg because that’s where I’m from,” said Pierson. “That’s where I was born. That’s where I was raised. And that’s where I grew up. It may not be the best area of Winnipeg but it’s my area.” HipHipCanada linked up with Jon-C to chop it up about his current place in the game, upcoming projects as well as his struggles and how he has taken himself to a “Better Place”—which is the first single off his upcoming album, by the way. Check out our report from the General himself, as he allows us to take a look inside his life and his transition from the Winnipeg’s Most crew to the newly established Winnipeg Boyz duo.
Born and raised on the north side of Winnipeg’s inner city streets, the “General,” Jon-C was pulled into the street life at a very young age. “Hip-hop related to so much of the life I was living at the time. I was poor and had nothing. Music was one of the only things I had to call my own,” said Pierson. What Jon-C proclaims, with regards to poverty and the street life, is not unheard of amongst many born-and-raised Winnipeggers. “When you’re poor and got nothing, these streets grip you—these streets have everything to offer you.” But the street life is not without its collateral damage. Jon-C started up Heatbag Records in the aftermath of the death of his close friend David Lagimodiere. “He got murdered out here. [Heatbag Records co-founder] Bubblz made a track about him. I knew that track inside and out—myself, Bubblz and [Lagimodiere] were always together,” said Pierson. “That was my very first inspiration to start writing. And ever since then I’ve never stopped.”
Even with looming legalities in his life, Jon-C attempts to move forward in order to maintain Heatbag Records as well as Winnipeg’s growing spotlight within the Canadian hip-hop scene. But it’s hard to move forward due to conditions resulting from charges that date back to July 2008 and November 2012 for possession with trafficking intent of cocaine and marijuana as well as money laundering, failing to comply with breach orders, and more. Jon-C has an 11 p.m. daily curfew and is prohibited from owning handheld wireless devices. He is also barred from consuming any alcohol. “I can’t have nothing right now. I’m on caveman status,” said Pierson.
Conditions aside, Jon-C still struggles to come to terms with the media’s recent portrayal of him. “What happened to me recently in the papers and in the news changed me. It showed me how innocent I can be, but at the same time appear so guilty,” said Pierson. “I’m a strong believer that if you do the crime, you do the time.” But Jon-C feels that media outlets have unnecessarily pinpointed him as a bad guy. “[The media] weren’t told facts or details. They were told one particular thing and they ran with it because it was news. Because it was publicity.” But Jon-C is confident that he will maintain his innocence. “I think that this whole situation is bullshit because at the end of the day I will be found not guilty.”
Regardless of the final verdict, Jon-C worries that law enforcement may continue to hound him due to his recent portrayal in the media. “I don’t want [the police] chasing me all the time—thinking I’m up to this, thinking I’m up to that. I’m not up to anything.” But he manages to push past these hardships in the form of words left from his deceased father. “He encouraged everything I did. He gave me a lot of advice and put some really deep thoughts into my head about life. You don’t really think about it at the time—his words are coming back to light.” This rediscovered inspiration has become the catalyst for a slew of projects in the works. Jon-C has created Canadian Urban Television (CUT TV), a new media outlet that showcases all aspects of urban life via Internet broadcasts. He has recently earned a spot as a member of the Battle Axe Warrior family, alongside Madchild, Charlie Fettah, DJ Dow Jones, HipHopCanada’s very own Dutch, and others.
Jon-C is also working on an upcoming album titled Winnipeg Boyz. “Our whole new album contains a different message because we are different people now,” said Pierson. “We are taking our message to that better place.” Winnipeg Boyz is the self-titled debut album for Jon-C’s newly formed duo with fellow label mate and former Winnipeg’s Most member, Charlie Fettah. “Brooklyn wanted to do his own thing— our split had nothing to do with our previous success, but rather the many arguments [that came up] about almost everything,” said Pierson. “It didn’t make sense to keep shit going.” Jon-C affirms that the three former Winnipeg’s Most boys are all on good terms and going through a transitional period to distance themselves from a life of “hardships and street life.”
Article and interview by Jamie Ellis for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jon Voss Photography