Hip-hopper Pigeon John in the house
Born on the mean streets of Omaha, Neb., John Dust always new that he wanted to be a rapper.
Well, actually, one of hip-hop’s brightest young stars grew up in Los Angeles, having moved there at the age of 2. And he’s pretty much been there ever since, except for the touring he does as Pigeon John.
“I got into music in the 1980s when I was in the fifth grade, listening to pop music on the radio,” said Dust, who will be at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon in South Lake Tahoe on Thursday, July 26.
“The radio is where I heard hip-hop for the first time.” Dust said. “Then I started watching it on the TV show “Friday Night Videos,” and by the age of 17 I knew I wanted to be a rapper. I got into a groove with Run DMC and that the Jungle Brothers Tribe and that stuff, and it just took off.”
Pigeon John began his career in the early 1990s, in what could be described as the third wave of hip hop. It wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today, when seemingly everyone is out trying to be a rap star.
“When I started there was only one open mike in all of LA County,” Dust said. “It was the Good Life Cafe in South Central. That’s where I started, and met a lot of like-minded MCs and performers. Hip-hop was still pretty rare in LA, there were actually a lot more skaters than rappers.”
Known as one of the most entertaining live acts in hip-hop, John’s energy and charisma onstage appeals to rockers and the hip-hop heads alike. It’s kind of a melody-driven, ’80s pop sensibility entwined with rap that appeals to a wide range of people.
John knew he was on his way one night in 1997, when he was set to appear in what he thought was a show with other performers.
“It was the Lotus in Silver Lake, and at the last minute they told me I was going to go on by myself,” he said. “So I had to piece together a solo show for the first time. I didn’t know how people were going to respond.”
But the response was great.
“It opened my eyes to the possibilities,” he said. “That was the real beginning.”
John changed his last name to Duncan when he got married four years ago. He lives with his wife in Northridge, Calif.