Without a doubt, this is something hiphop artist Pigeon John embraces. Whether in clubs plucking the guitar to his ultra-personal song “Be” or giving shout outs to his “brother named Jesus / last name Christ” in his lyrics, John is a man who wants to live out his beliefs.
One of post-modern Christianity’s buzzwords is being “missional.” The definition stressed is that the enthusiasm, excitement, and energy commonly generated for overseas evangelism is also exhibited in daily living in your own community.
“I want to be a good example and not have ‘Pigeon John’ be something I switch on an off,” he said. “People are smarter than that.”
And while his current and primary “mission field” includes a nationwide tour with artists like Lyrics Born and the reggae-spitting Hasidic Jew, Matisyahu, the Pigeon has also flown across the globe to put his faith into action.
PJ Invades Africa
This summer, John and his wife Harmony spent two weeks with Iris Missions (http://www.irismin.org/) in Mozambique, Africa. The organization’s multi-use facility has an orphanage, hospital, and school and provides more than 100 jobs for the community.
Most of the kids lost their parents in the country’s violent revolution nearly a decade ago. Pigeon said he’d never been so close to such tragedy.
“We spent most of our time just hanging out with the kids. You felt like you needed to do more, but really, just being a friend and talking to them was what seemed to fulfill the greatest need,” John said.
Pigeon John says the trip also reminded him that here in the States, many of us are easily drawn into the American-Christian subculture that often blinds us to the foundational truths and realities of the faith.
“I realized I had taken my Bible and knowledge of Scripture for granted,” Pigeon said. “Over there, Christianity is stripped down and raw. An actual Bible, especially in the Portuguese language, is highly valued.
“People are being taught the very basic elements – such as the names of the books and how chapters and verses are organized. It was out of necessity to be sure, but the purity of it is quite attractive.”
Around the same time, Pigeon was forced to make a choice about the direction of his hiphop career. As a Christ-follower, should he sign a record deal with Nashville powerhouse Gotee (where former crew members LA Symphony have found a home) or go with mainstream indie Quannum?
“It was a very hard decision,” Pigeon John said while revealing he went with the Q.
“I love Gotee and love what they do. Going with Quannum was definitely more risky, but I believe it can also yield a greater reward with a larger chance at crossover exposure and less restrictions regarding the required amount of ‘spiritual’ content in my music.”
He says you’ll continue to get the heartfelt and humorous PJ lyrics and beats on his next record, Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party, due in the spring of 2006.
And whether at shows in mainstream venues and occasional church dates, Pigeon will continue to live missionally with anyone he’s around.
“The cool thing is people are very open and supportive in both places. My audience will be filled with burrito-eating nerds, saxophone playing shy girls, tattooed goth couples, and soccer moms.
“I just try to be very open and honest in my music and in person.”
Sketch the Journalist is a freelance hiphop writer living in the thriving country metropolis of Cut-N-Shoot, Texas. Pictures by Sketch the Journalist