Saigon: The Greatest Story Never Told

An epic album finally gets its proper release, with help from Kanye & Just Blaze.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Saigon: The Greatest Story Never Told

 

It’s rare when you can refer to a Hip Hop album as epic. Good, great, classic, those are all terms that have been attached to various records in the genre, but rarely do you hear epic. Brooklyn bred rapper Saigon achieves that rarity with his first studio offering, The Greatest Story Never Told, an album that was close to never seeing the light of day. 

 

Completed in 2007, Greatest Story Never Told sat on the Atlantic Records shelves for four years before Saigon managed to get ownership rights returned to him. Finding a new home on Suburban Noize Records/Fort Knocks Entertainment, Saigon is unleashing his epic statement, and I’m guessing the public reaction to this album may get some Atlantic execs in hot water.

 

When I say epic, I mean epic. With the mix of beats, samples, keyboards and Saigon’s distinctive flow; each song on Greatest Story is a massive block of sound. At eighteen songs, it would be easy for this record to grow tedious but it doesn’t, there’s enough going on from track to track to keep the album interesting throughout. The opening track “The Invitation” is one of the most powerful Hip Hop songs in recent memory. When the music drops it will rock you right off the rails, you literally have to bop to it. Add to that the lyrical Jedi flips betweenSaigon and Q-Tip and you get an opener that slaps you to attention.

 

From there Greatest Story Never Told picks up steam by jumping from style to style. The gospel church feel of “Come On Baby” (featuring Jay-Z and Swizz Beats) gives way to the guitar driven “Bring Me Down 2”, which slides easily into the mellow, piano lounge of “Enemies”. It’s clear that Saigon and producer Just Blaze aren’t afraid of experimenting with the normal parameters of Hip Hop, a move that’s bold and refreshing in this current age of mostly by-the-numbers music. Nothing here is expected, allowing each song to take on a life of its own. One of my personal favorites is the title track because of the battle between the lyrics and the music. Blaze’s production keeps the song incredibly busy, almost like a DJ instrumental. At the same time Saigon rhymes right up against it, switching his flow on a dime to match what Blaze has going on. It’s indicative of how great Hip Hop can be if it can break free of its own rules.  

 

The real secret to Greatest Story Never Told is Saigon himself. This guy stands toe to toe with many of the best Hip Hop lyricists out there and doesn’t flinch. Usually when a debut album features guest stars like Jay-Z, Q Tip, Swizz Beats and Black Thought (of the Roots), it’s to try and balance out the inexperience of the featured artist, or, at the very least, the guests tend to show up the headliner. On Greatest Story the playing field is level, Saigon’s flow matches up (and in some cases surpasses) his guest stars to a point that you feel the album doesn’t need them. It lets the guest stars be a nice spice to the record as opposed to the thing you’re searching for. This is Saigon’s album, and nobody can take it away from him.

 

Another nice touch for Greatest Story is that its lack of producer stauration. Just Blaze handles most of the work, with a few additional producers added to what Blaze is doing. The only tracks not produced by Blaze are “It’s Alright” from Kanye West and “Too Long” from DJ Corbett. Stepping back from the current multi-producer trend lets Greatest Story Never Told create some cohesion. Instead of sounding like a random slab of songs tossed together, Greatest Story comes across like an actual record. I won’t front, this is really my first exposure to Saigon and so far I am incredibly impressed,

 

CRAVE ONLINE RATING 8 OUT OF 10