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Pigeon John & the Summertime Pool Party

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Album Review

Pigeon John has been known for his positive and sometimes humorous rapping, long before he signed with underground hip-hop beacon Quannum in 2005, a move that apparently didn't alter his style in the least. On Pigeon John...and the Summertime Pool Party, his first album with the label (and fourth overall), he and longtime collaborators DJ Rhettmatic and Great Jason still produce much of it, and there are the requisite guest stars that any hip-hop record needs. RJD2 shows off his stuff on "The Last Sunshine," which also features rhymes by J-Live, and Brother Ali adds vocals on "One for The...," but John himself is the same old easygoing rapper he's always been. This makes sense; his persona is based around the fact that he's "just a regular guy" and isn't into the money or privileged life of a rock star, something that he conveys with his many references to Taco Bell, the mall, and his own lack of "credibility." That he's not ashamed to take a crack at himself is refreshing, and as he goes from the goofy skits to the "background" comments of "get off the stage dude, you suck" after his attempts to pick up a girl in "Moneyback Guarantee" — which, despite its BNL-esque corniness, is actually pretty funny ("You get your money back for free girl if you ain't feeling me," John promises to a potential date) — you can't help but kind of like him. The thing is, he's almost too likable; the album's almost too corny, too self-effacing, too jokey, and it's hard to take him seriously in any sense of the word. It doesn't help that the production is generally guitar-based and melodic, sounding more like radio-friendly pop music than anything else. This isn't necessarily a bad thing — John's whole premise is that he can be enjoyed by everyone — but after the umpteenth acoustic breakdown, things began to seem a little tired and even cheesy (a problem that is not fixed by the closer, "Growin' Old," which sounds uncomfortably similar to Vitamin C's "Graduation [Friends Forever]"). It's not that Pigeon John...and the Summertime Pool Party is all silliness: there are some more contemplative songs ("Weight of the World," "As We Know It") as well, but they almost seem out of place in the rest of the "we had some fun, that's what it's all about" (to quote "Scene 4") album. It's true that John hasn't changed: he's sticking to his positivity, staying true to what he believes in, and doing what he loves, and that's something to be respected, even if it means corny, super-feel-good, summery rhymes. You've got to admire someone who offers to buy his girlfriend the latest Jordaches, but it doesn't mean you've got to want to get a pair yourself.


Born: Omaha, NE

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Born to mixed-race parents in Omaha, NE, John Dust felt out of place due to the color of his skin, a feeling that also continued after he moved to Inglewood, CA. He found solace and friendship, however, in rapping, and by the early '90s was performing at open mikes at Good Life Café, where other seminal acts like the Pharcyde and Freestyle Fellowship got their start. Dust, who was now going by Pigeon John (a name the mother of a friend had given him), soon joined hip-hop collectives L.A. Symphony...
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Pigeon John & the Summertime Pool Party, Pigeon John
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