Though he’s been a huge presence in the L.A. indie-hip-hop scene, Pigeon John has always kind of bothered me. I’m not really sure what it is, and I’ve always regretted it, because he’s one of those few rappers who has a strong skill set and refuses to be anything more than playful, self-effacing and positive. Nevertheless, because of this reputation, reports that he had signed to Quannum rivaled Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant as least surprising news ever.
So it goes without saying that Pigeon John doesn’t change his style in the least on And the Summertime Pool Party, his Quannum debut and fourth record overall. Constructed out of feel-good party tracks and jokey story rhymes (with a conscious track sprinkled here and there), the album is ultimately done in by its own refusal to produce anything substantive. Ironically, this is the very thing John has going for him, and it works well on a track-by-track basis. Opener “Welcome to the Show” has a tropical-lounge vibe that is a perfect opening for a record like this. DNAE’s beat is moderately entertaining, like his beat on the amusing “I Lost My Job Again” and like RJD2’s beat on “The Last Sunshine.” But nothing sticks over the album’s sixteen tracks, and for a light-hearted jokey record, I don’t recall laughing once.
Lyrics Born, instrumental in bringing the emcee to the label, executive produced the record, and it could have used stronger direction from the producer/emcee, whose own Later That Day is a stronger record overall. When it comes down to it, Pigeon John and his music reminds me of Tone-Def’s transformation into a hippie rapper in Fear of a Black Hat. Everything about him just seems a little Spinal Tap-ish, like what a positive indie-hip-hop rapper is supposed to be like. I hate to say anything negative about post-modernism, but I’d rather have the real thing.