Pigeon John...And The Summertime Pool Party

Artist: Pigeon JohnTitle: Pigeon John...And The Summertime Pool PartyRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

To some, Pigeon John has engaged audiences in his music with a homogenous blend of humble humor and blunt honesty on his three previous albums. Others argue that John's singing and off-color topics violate the conventions of what a master of ceremony should really be about. For his fourth solo album, Pigeon makes a splash with Pigeon John...And the Summertime Pool Party (Quannum) and appeases the critics without short-changing his cult following.

Pigeon John has plenty to say. Whether he's modernizing Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By" in "Freaks! Freaks!" or celebrating the pink-slip on "I Lost My Job Again", this album bathes in blue-collar blues. Still, more than ever, Pigeon John finds places on the record to brag about his wife, his Cadillac, and claim an Inglewood youth that's so rarely been spoken about since the LA Symphony days. J-Live provides a classic guest verse on "The Last Sunshine", as Brother Ali professes his reason for rhyming with a convinction worthy of "Lose Yourself" comparisons.

Although Quannum has been a roundhouse for some of the funkiest West Coast production, Chief Xcel, DJ Shadow, and all the other usual suspects are absent from this effort. Instead it is the Beat Junkies' DJ Rhettmatic who pulls "Freaks! Freaks!" from his cosmic slop shop, with hard percussion and an E-40-like chorus. RJD2 steals the show with "The Last Sunshine" which evocates the lyrical reflection and allows John's sung chorus to truly shine. For more contemporary sounds, Buchanan and Nick Toth split a vocal sample with a playful piano riff that shifts from light hearted to heavy, homogenously.

Summertime Pool Party has the potential to do what Cage's Hell's Winter did last year. A label move, some guidance, and some careful crafting has allowed Pigeon John to take his wit and humility and add the sincerity and conviction that so many critics doubted. Though it's still an album of fun, games, and female pursuits, John finally removes the sunglasses to look the listener in the eye with lyrics that stick.