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Ian Walker 02/27/11 12:07 AM

Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told
 
Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told
Record Label: Suburban Noize Records
Release Date: February 15, 2011

The drama behind the release of Saigon's debut album The Greatest Story Never Told played out over the years almost like a hip-hop soap opera. With threats of retirement and serious doubts that the album would ever be released, The Greatest Story Never Told almost became just that. Most of the conflict was caused by differences between Saigon and his old label, Atlantic Records, who eventually released the album and gave Saigon and the album's executive producer Just Blaze full control over the record's fate. Fast forward almost three more years, and we've just now seen the release of The Greatest Story Never Told. Did it live up to the numerous delays, or fall flat after years and years of production?

The former. Typical of Just Blaze, the production is crisp and on point, coherent from track to track while also varied enough to make each trip through the album a captivating experience. While other producers obviously provided their input on more than one track, it's readily apparent that Just Blaze exercised his title as executive producer to the fullest. While nothing is all that mind-blowing, the whole of The Greatest Story Never Told is solid up until the final track.

Funny enough, the two most stand-out tracks happen to be the ones produced solely by other artists. “It's Alright” features the extensive skills of Kanye West, with samples pulled from Luther Vandross' classic cover of The Carpenter's “Superstar.” Up and coming R&B vocalist Marsha Ambrosius also lends a hand with her unique vocals over subdued piano melodies and drum beats, but Saigon's heartfelt lyrics are the glue that holds this track together. He reaches out to families who have been torn apart by crime with a surprising amount of poise and honesty, a theme that follows him throughout the whole album.

The second track, album closer “Too Long,” features production by DJ Corbett and fantastic verses by The Roots' Black Thought, who carries the same socially conscious lyrics he's become known for into the writing for this track. Both he and Saigon offer hope to those who feel stuck in a rut, like they won't ever be able to escape from the problems that surround them. Like many of the tracks on The Greatest Story Never Told, “Too Long” shines in the special balance Saigon and Just Blaze find between restrained production and hard-hitting lyricism.

While those two may be the strongest tracks on the album, the rest of The Greatest Story Never Told hardly disappoints. The remix of the first single, “Come On Baby,” features a slick hook from Swizz Beatz and an even slicker verse from hip-hop legend Jay-Z, as well as a the best production found on the album. “Clap” is carried by its namesake as well as the smooth vocals of Faith Evans, mixing beautifully with the old-school cymbal crashes and choir vocals. Saigon also manages to prove himself over R&B stylings on the tracks “Give It to Me” and “What the Lovers Do,” the mellow vibe of which clashes a bit with the more traditional hip-hop sensibilities found on the rest of the album while at the same time showcasing the rapper's versatility in an interesting way.

Just Blaze has gone on record saying part of the reason the album was delayed after its release from Atlantic Records was that he wanted to form a sort of bond with Saigon over the course of putting the album together. He felt it was important that their relationship was solid during the recording process, and it seems like he achieved his goal. The production and lyrics mix together wonderfully, even on tracks that Just Blaze wasn't the prominent producer. Albums with as many delays as The Greatest Story Never Told have the chance of being bogged down in over-production, but Saigon's debut definitely sidestepped that problem and delivered an entertaining assortment of tracks.

The Greatest Story Never Told may be Saigon's first full-length studio album to date, but that in no way detracts from the skill and grace he exhibits on each and every track. The opposite, in fact; I am still amazed at the way Saigon holds his own, even when being supported by some of the industry's biggest names. He switches from admonitions against greedy church preachers to lighter fare like love and family with the aplomb of an artist far ahead of him in years and releases, which speaks volumes about his future in the scene. Although The Greatest Story Never Told almost never saw the light of day, Saigon is an artist that needs to be on every hip-hop head's radar if he isn't already.

Track Listing1. Station Identification (Intro)
2. The Invitation
3. Come On Baby (Remix)
4. War
5. Bring Me Down, Part Two
6. Enemies
7. Friends
8. The Greatest Story Never Told
9. Clap
10. Preacher
11. It’s Alright
12. Believe It
13. Give It To Me
14. What The Lovers Do
15. Better Way
16. Oh Yeah (Our Babies)
17. And the Winner Is...
18. Too Long


Official Website | Official Myspace | "Come On Baby" Official Music Video

truthbetoldxx 02/27/11 12:38 PM

The transition from first paragraph to second paragraph is really confusing to me, but great review otherwise. He was a guest on my favorite CT college station the other night, and he definitely is the real deal. Glad he finally got this out

Corey Hoffy 02/27/11 12:46 PM

Good review. I didn't think anyone else on here would end up reviewing this. Haha.

Ian Walker 02/27/11 01:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by truthbetoldxx (Post 85826472)
The transition from first paragraph to second paragraph is really confusing to me, but great review otherwise. He was a guest on my favorite CT college station the other night, and he definitely is the real deal. Glad he finally got this out


Thanks for pointing that out! I can't believe I missed it, but I guess that's what I get for editing late at night.

coreysetfail 02/28/11 07:50 AM

no mention of entourage? booo.

MurderByDan 02/28/11 08:27 AM

I love it when a hip-hop album flows together as well as this one does. Good review and good album.

Jumpoff 02/28/11 08:57 AM

Woah this actually came out? What's next? Nacirema Dream?

weworemasks 02/28/11 12:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Corey Hoffy (Post 85826812)
Good review. I didn't think anyone else on here would end up reviewing this. Haha.

you and i both. good shit, walker.

Clark 02/28/11 09:26 PM

No idea he was an actual rapper. I'll have to check this out due to my love of Entourage.