Saigon The Greatest Story Never Told
The title of Saigon’s endlessly delayed debut, The Greatest Story Never Told, has long felt prophetic: the album was scheduled to be released in 2007 on Atlantic, but is only now being released independently. The gifted political rapper/Entourage supporting player (the two invariably go together) blamed the incendiary nature of his lyrics for Atlantic’s reluctance to release the album, and while that might sound like self-serving spin, there’s no denying the righteous anger behind this impassioned manifesto. The pummeling intensity of Saigon’s insightful, urgently delivered lyrics are matched by the gutbucket soul of Just Blaze, one of the architects of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint. (Jay-Z returns the favor with a clever verse on “Come On Baby” that would be more impressive if he hadn’t already used some of the lyrics on a remix of 50 Cent’s “I Get Money” a few years back.) Like Raekwon’s similarly delayed Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, Told sometimes feels like too much of a good thing; at 18 furious tracks, it’s overwhelming in the best sense. (Though the skits are, as always, unnecessary.) Saigon’s background as an ex-con lends specificity and direction to his social criticism: He’s a battle-tested survivor singling out the injustices and hypocrisy of a world filled with prisons and traps, real and metaphorical. Told is worth the wait; raising Saigon’s profile is probably Entourage’s greatest/only gift to the world, at least where hip-hop is concerned.