Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Record Company: Suburban Noize Records
When you title your album The Greatest Story Never Told, you're only asking for trouble. Saigon's nearly never-released debut album sat in limbo for five years, while everything went downhill for the surprisingly optimistic rapper. Arguments with his producer, disputes with his former record company Atlantic, and frustrations led Saigon to a near-early retirement. Luckily, he reconsidered, made amends, and signed to Suburban Noize Records. But would nearly five year old work still hold impact in today's ever-changing music scene? Fortunately, the answer is an alarmingly loud yes, as Saigon has released a cohesive and intelligent display of hip-hop.
The record opens on an apparently imprisoned Saigon being visited by one of his friends. A typical way to start a hip-hop album indeed, but when we move on to "The Invitation", Saigon shows his talent to combine comprehensible rhymes while making catchy beats that make for a near-incredible opener. "Bring Me Down Pt. 2" is a major highlight, featuring some of the most uplifting lyrics on the album. With that said, the album sometimes suffers from an overly preachy approach that is often the problem in hip-hop. However, it's mostly a surprisingly dark glimpse into the destructive nature of the hood and its effects on its inhabitants.
"Preacher" is a poke-fun at overly paid preachers who swim in hypocrisy; Saigon cleverly states "You ain't practicing what you preach" and that "you extorting us on the weekend." It may be somewhat cliche, but it's somewhat refreshing to see a rapper rap about such matters. The title track is filled with dance-inducing beats and it's a great politically charged track. "Give it To Me" and "What the Lovers Do" may be the worst tracks found here, featuring corny and unnecessarily sexual lyrics. But a couple rotten apples in an otherwise tasty bushel of apples is to be expected.
Production is near-flawless. Then again, they've had plenty of time to perfect this. Just Blaze, the album's main producer, has a wonderful style, with a crisp and extraordinary attention to every little detail. Saigon's rapping style is certainly something to be mentioned. He's fast, passionate, and able to spread high amounts of emotion all over this record. It's the main attraction here, and should be experienced. And when experienced, should be re-experienced multiple times.
In the end, Saigon has not only made one of the better rap albums in recent memory, he's released the first album this year that I've been able to connect to emotionally. And although it's still very early in the year, Saigon's Story is already a high contender for one of my favorite albums of the year.