Saigon’s debut album, The Greatest Story Never Told, arrived in stores February 15. While the New York rapper has been making music for nearly a decade, he has been studying the genre’s elite for much longer. From first to fifth, here’s the Top 5 Rappers Saigon Studied.
Big Daddy Kane
I learned how to play with words from Kane. Kane had it all. Kane was lyrical. He could do the ladies songs. He’s got songs like “Raw.” where he was just spitting and then he could just break it down with “Smooth Operator.” He had the fashion game down pat. Kane was just one of the first early examples of a complete MC.
Kool G Rap
Kool G Rap really developed the style where you’d rhyme a word a bunch of times. That was a tricky way to play with words. When you write it out, you see it. He’s rhyming words without putting anything in the middle. If you listen to “Men At Work,” “Poison” and all them songs, you hear that flow in early G Rap music. And, he could vividly paint pictures. When you listen to “Streets Of New York,” you see it. I call it visual rhyme, where the song is a video in itself. That’s what I think Nas is good at, as well.
He had a slick flow and voice. He had the fashion thing down and he had a lot of knowledge in his rhymes. If you listen to songs like “Slow Down” and songs like “Wake Up,” you could dance to them, but they had knowledge in them. If you listen to my song “The Greatest Story Never Told,” that’s actually a Grand Puba line from “Wake Up.” That’s how he starts “Wake Up.” I took that line to start my song because that’s one of my favorite Grand Puba songs. He’s another artist who had it all. He had the melody and had the early collaborations with Mary [J. Blige] with “What’s the 411?” He’s a complete MC and pretty much made the Tommy Hilfiger brand popular.
LL Cool J
He could eat you in the battles. You saw what he did to Kool Moe Dee and Ice-T and them cats. He had the battle skills, the storytelling skills on a song like “The Bristol Hotel.” You know he had the ladies on smash with “I Need Love” and all that kind of stuff. He had it all. Dudes wanted to be him and the ladies wanted to be with him. That’s when you know you’re on to something. That’s a success story.
We watched him evolve from the fast flow rapping with Jaz. We watched him evolve into one of the greatest MCs ever. He’s another one that’s got the style, the battle rhymes. He’s battle ready. He’s got the ladies. He’s got everything, the hardcore joints, the story joints. Jay can do it all. Jay’s complete. There’s nothing that man can’t do in the studio with music. His voice actually becomes an instrument. He came with the conversational flow. If you listen to him on Original Flavor’s song “Can I Get Open,” he’s playing with his wordplay. I was like, “The kid’s got something special.” I didn’t know he was going to end up being who he was, but I knew he was special. I knew he had a gift.
For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker
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