Saigon

Saigon’s album title nearly became a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s because it took nearly a decade for his debut album, The Greatest Story Never Told, to be released. The long-awaited album from the highly respected, Just Blaze-backed rapper finally arrived in stores February 15, on Suburban Noize Records.

Saigon Quick Facts

  • Born June 16, 1978
  • Hails from Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY
  • Has made appearances in the HBO television series Entourage

Although mixtapes, underground albums and appearances on the television show Entourage kept Saigon’s name buzzing, it was mental fortitude and advice from his family that kept him focused on pursuing his goal of releasing a full-fledged studio album.

I have a mind frame that I’m not going to let anything stop me

“I have a mind frame that I’m not going to let anything stop me,” he says. “It got discouraging going through what I went through and you think it’s not going to work out for you. My mom, who passed away, she used to always tell me to stay focused and persevere and keep your eye on the prize. But it’s not easy. There’s been many times where I just wanted to say, ‘F it’ and try my hand at something else, but I devoted a lot of time and energy to this project so I figured I’d see it through.”

Saigon’s perseverance pays dividends for rap fans. He’s a lyrically sharp rapper who examines socially significant issues in ways that are engaging, entertaining and informative. On “Bring Me Down, Pt. 2,” for instance, the New Yorker explains the importance of not giving up in the face of adversity. Elsewhere, “Preacher” takes church figures to task for focusing more on their own financial gain than helping the members of their congregation reach spiritual bliss. He also addresses how tricky relationships are on “Friends” and “Enemies.”

Each of these songs showcases Saigon’s ability to examine volatile issues with keen insight and sobering realism. “I’m trying to be diverse and get really deep into the music,” he says. “I come from a time where I used to take dude’s rhymes apart. I would write their rhymes down and really study what the artists were saying. Now it’s simplified to the point where you hear a song one time and you know the whole song.”

That’s unlikely to happen with Saigon’s material. On the first verse of the title track alone, he crafts clever rhymes that reference revered rap group Brand Nubian, advocates helping others, details his recording history, blasts deceitful reverends while paying tribute to God and examines the economic realities of capitalism, among other topics.

We learned from hip-hop what was going on in the streets, it was like CNN

For Saigon, infusing his rhymes with meaning is seemingly mandatory, something that harkens back to the style of rap that he grew up coveting. “Social commentary is something that hip-hop used to always be about,” he says. “We learned from hip-hop what was going on in the streets, it was like CNN. Hip-hop was born out of black struggle, so I figure I could touch on some of those topics because right now it’s like everybody is party, party, party and making it rain. It’s like an overabundance of that. I feel that my story is not being told right now and I need to tell it.”
 

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker

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