Woe to hip-hop. Sometime in the past year, mainstream MCs became so venal that you don't so much listen to them as vicariously experience their bloat of self-importance. Meanwhile, a once-hot underground got colonized just enough to lose its thunder, blurring the line to the point that DJ Hi-Tek and 50 Cent can end up in the studio together, let alone the same room. All that's left of honest, mortal-scale hip-hop is weirdoes like Pigeon John, who are too far from the scene to be sucked into its attendant bullshit. And mortal he is, with a laid-back melodic style, making funky fun out of a biracial identity crisis, and penning a deadbeat-dad lament sans the required Jesus-fueled redemption scene. His last album was called Pigeon John Dates Your Sister, and John is that rare, thoughtful MC you wouldn't mind doing so.