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...IS CLUELESS (2002)
...Is Clueless - Click to view!The bar is dimly lit as Pigeon John steps to the stage. Not so sharply dressed and armed only with a guitar, the crowd's response to PJ is mixed at best. John playfully banters with the crowd and between frantic shouts of "I'll die for you" and telling the crowd to shut up, the LA Symphony emcee moves into his delicate song "B." This song is the last track of the PJ compilation album Pigeon John Is Clueless. One listen to this song will give you a good idea of what the Pigeon is all about. "B" contains several stories about John's life and his struggles. At times it is tenderly sung, at others it is obnoxiously screamed at the top of his lungs. PJ (a.k.a. John Dunkin) includes humourous lyrics and barely avoids being kicked off stage before delivering an encouraging biblical principle. Such is an experience with the most flamboyant member of LA Symphony. Clueless offers us a full range of Pigeon John's emotions with a collection of 19 songs recorded since 1998.

The opening song, "Clueless," presents Dunkin's honesty and willingness to be real in front of his audience. Like many Christian emcees, PJ touches on his financial struggles with tracks like "Payroll Professionals," "Los Angeles Rap Music" and the soulful, downbeat "Eviction Notice." Underground emcee Tapwater guests on "Passion," a tune with a laid back snare roll that compliments a soft electric guitar riff and Pigeon's soothing vocals. The highs of life are celebrated on the sleeper hit "Cry," where John states "I feel so good I'm gonna cry."

His silly side comes through on many tracks including "The Cowboy Song" and "Cheerleaders." The latter song is a source of controversy for the humble emcee. Christian hip-hop's Bible thumpers take issue with the chorus that says, "I'm in my mid-twenties / still dating cheerleaders." In works with LA Symphony and his many guest appearances, Pigeon John has never been shy about his reputation as a flirt. On this CD, there are many tracks dealing with his desires for a girlfriend. "The Chase" tells a story of a girl he dated that fell for someone in his crew, "Destruction" deals with the agony of a recent break-up, and "6th and Alvarado" is a playful song about PJ trying to court a young lady. Where are the references to God? Just like Pigeon, his songs have many layers. Consider this lyric from "Cheerleaders:" "Just wave your hands high if you realize / that Mr. Christ dies for humanity's white lies / thinking we're all that but we're really all dirt / with God's breath in us so it's Him I thirst."

It is Pigeon's attitude and flair that make this CD enjoyable. PJ shies away from the hardcore approach and in fact mocks it in the sarcastic "I'm The Best In The World." This track is one of three new songs (all produced by Pigeon John) that have been added to this re-release. Here, Dunkin lashes back at "hardcore" rappers that present a thug image. He makes it personal by revealing that his mother was a victim of violence. The other two new songs ("6th and Alvarado" and "The Heartbeat") display Pigeon John's talent for hook writing and creative beats.

Clueless is not the best produced CD in the world. It does not have earth shattering lyrics, nor will it be a huge commercial success. Then why is it so good? Pigeon John is just real with us. He reveals all the insecurity, pain, joy and laughter that goes into a vibrant life. His stories can touch the listener and his jokes would make him the life of any party. Above all, it is the final words heard on the final song "B" that bring Pigeon's real message to the forefront. "You're fearfully and wonderfully made / don't be dismayed my dear son."
- Jon Corbin
January 2003
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