The shuffler: Pigeon John, a Quannum recording artist and standout member of the L.A. Symphony crew; his latest album is Pigeon John And The Summertime Pool Party.
Björk, "Cover Me"
Pigeon John: This is a bomb song. This is her second record. My friend—this girl that I liked—we're in a music store, and this was on the shelf. And I listened to it in the headphones, and I bought it. Björk's one of my favorite singers.
The Foreign Exchange, "All That You Are"
PJ: The first Little Brother record, I wasn't a huge fan of it, but they were still under the influence a little bit. But it's a quality record. I definitely love the second Little Brother album. They kind of came into their own.
The A.V. Club: What do you mean by "under the influence"? Do you mean too retro, too indebted to the past?
PJ: They established themselves as the little brother of De La Soul and Slum Village in particular. So when Little Brother came out, it was kind of like rooting for your team: Slum Village is my team, and there was this new franchise that popped up that pretty much wanted to take over. I'm very opinionated with that. I think that everyone is very heavily influenced, but I think that we can't stay there. I don't think De La Soul was heavily influenced when they did 3 Feet High And Rising—it kind of came out of nowhere. I think you have to drop your influences and push through to get to your original voice.
4th Avenue Jones, "Betcha Bye"
PJ: This is Ahmad, old-school guy. "Back in the day when I was young / I'm not a kid anymore." That dude? He became a Christian and dropped music for a while. He was very young, and it hit him hard. Making $10,000 or $15,000, waking up with women and drugs at the age of 18. So it really overtook him. So when he became a Christian, he wanted to distance himself, and he really wanted a live-band appeal, back when Black Eyed Peas were first coming out. They were really doing well in L.A., and Ahmad said, "I want to form a band." And he started 4th Avenue Jones. He did an independent record, and I got a song on there. Then he got a deal with Gotee Records out of Nashville, TN. Ahmad is real fresh.
PJ: This is one of my many, what do you call it, impulse buys? I hear one song on the TV, or see their video, and I go out and buy it. And not that it's not good, it just didn't connect with me. So now I don't even know who they are anymore. And it's in my iPod. I'm sure everyone has at least two. I have hundreds of those types of artists. I get excited and I want to be blown away all the time, and I'm a huge fan of music. I'll buy a CD if the cover is cool. Sometimes I get lucky, like a band called Self out of Tennessee. They're on Dreamworks, but I loved the cover of one of their records. I forget what it was called, but I bought it and it totally blew my mind, and one of those guys actually co-produced my record that's out.
Ma$e, "My Harlem Lullaby"
PJ: Once again, it's a Christian dude that backed out of the scene and came back a little more balanced, and now I guess he's with G-Unit. So, you know, whatever. This song is "My Harlem Lullaby." I wasn't a fan of the whole album. I liked that single, that "Welcome Back" song. I tried to imagine him without the single and the hype, and I said, "This guy's pretty original." There's no one like him, actually.
AVC: It's surprising how secular his comeback album was. It didn't seem like an enormous amount of spiritual growth took place between the first and the second.
PJ: First he was just a rich local MC from Harlem, and now he's just a very rich Christian.
AVC: Maybe the G in G-Unit will now stand for God.
PJ: Honestly, have you heard that stuff? It's really raw. You've heard about Murda Mase? This is a year ago now, but he can't get out of the deal with P. Diddy. But he's back to rawness again. Actually, I heard that it's a lot better. I think everyone should just be themselves and leave God out of it a lot of times. I don't think God really cares about that stuff. He just wants everyone to be who he created them to be. We kind of clog ourselves up trying to do the righteous thing artistically. You can't approach doing art righteously. That's going to slow you down.
PJ: Once again, this is another Christian dude.
AVC: I thought he was Canadian. I didn't know he was a Christian.
PJ: It's the same thing. Canadian, Christian, it's all the same. He's a really good dude. Friend of mine. L.A. local dude. Original, original delivery. Original voice. On this record, I read a couple reviews where religious themes kind of bogged the music down a little. I'm a Christian myself, and certain times when I feel a little heavy, when I listen to him, I don't feel like I'm doing good. But the music is the bomb, and I really like his first record.
Radiohead, "I Might Be Wrong (Live)"
PJ: I know that girls appreciate these guys, but in my humble opinion—they are my favorite rock 'n' roll group right now, modern-day, and I love them. As well as a lot of other groups, but I love these guys. From the beginning, kind of like Björk, from the first record, and then go on into The Bends. You can tell they were diving into something, good or bad, they were going in deep, all the way with it. And they weren't looking back, and then they kept going. They went on and they made the phenomenal one, OK Computer, Kid A, and all that stuff. I think they're very adventurous, and even Thom Yorke's solo record, I loved. I think of when rock 'n' roll was dangerous, when it was not a tame situation, or parents were actually fearful of what people called the jungle music. I think that's the only time it's relevant. Other than that, to do the classic way or the '70s rock or taking it back to the '60s, I think it's kind of like making love to a dead body. It might feel good, but it's still kind of sick. I'm always going to be a fan of Radiohead, because I know they're at least trying to define our generation. So many rock 'n' roll and hip-hop groups, including myself—I'll always think I have nostalgia mixed in my hip-hop, and there's nostalgia in the way we dress. We're dressing like we're in 1979, and that's cute, I appreciate it, but in 1979, they dressed like it was 1959. Everybody's finding their own sound and their own culture, and I think that we need to get busy doing that. In my humble opinion.