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Lyrics Born, Pigeon John

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Most MCs are all about asserting their alpha-male status, but PIGEON JOHN is content to be an omega male. He's a relentlessly self-deprecating dork, and really he barely even qualifies as a rapper: on Pigeon John Sings the Blues (Basement) he croons more than raps, about the sad state of his Toyota Tercel, his love for swing dancing, and his many encounters with romantic rejection. You get the feeling that much of this is tongue-in-cheek, but he can also sound remarkably sincere. He struggles with the complications of being of mixed race on "Identity Crisis" (actually a remix from Pigeon John Is Dating Your Sister), laments his outsider status on "Perfect Formality," and shares his struggle to keep God in his life on "Draw Me Closer." Behind the Lambda Lambda Lambda exterior is a man poring over his psyche with a bewitching honesty, and that juxtaposition is what makes him such an intriguing character.

LYRICS BORN's gravelly, viscous voice is as malleable as Mr. Fantastic's limbs: he can reduce it to a smoky whisper, send it into a plaintive wail, or chop it up into a staccato flow. But the Quannum MC consistently uses it to put across inventive, quirky lyrics--fresh takes on such tired subjects as seduction, relationships, and how fucked-up the world is. Same !@#$, Different Day (Quannum Projects) comprises five new tracks and eight remixes of cuts from his self-produced 2003 solo debut, Later That Day, produced with the help of chums like Dan the Automator, DJ Shadow, and Chief XL. It's a bubbly, exuberant package of electro-funk that stands as a testament to his versatility, lending credence to his boast from "Pack Up": "How many different kinda tracks have y'all heard me on? / Exactly, and I served them all."

Lyrics Born headlines, Pigeon John goes second, and Abstract Giants open. Fri 9/30, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15 in advance, $18 at the door, 18+.

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