It’s an universally common scenario: Cereal is on the menu by default yet the key component to making the meal a reality just so happens to be slightly past its expiration date. After passing meticulous rounds of smell tests, the impending consumption of milk is imminent and still rewarding. As humans, very few obstacles are capable of curving our appetites. The will to survive depends on satisfying our hunger.
Seasoned in nearly every facet an artist can find themselves in the music industry, Saigon saw another type of appetite being jeopardized when his artistic hunger was derailed by then label, Atlantic Records, as his anticipated debut was subsequently benched for some of their more glitzier players. Saigon’s reputation also took hits as a result. No doubt reserving his first impression for his shelved record’s contents, he, along with the album’s co-conspirator Just Blaze, were forced to slave on the mixtape circuit to keep his belly from going empty. Not to mention beefing and brawling with numerous contemporaries increased the lingering assumption that his debut, The Greatest Story Never Told would hold true to its name.
Years of litigation soon followed, thrusting the album’s actual existence in similar company of unicorns and the Tooth Fairy. That is, until now. Much like the milk which was counted out for conventional reasons, Sai’s first album remains good to the last drop, even with the tardy overhead. The Greatest Story Never Told is that of a man who has begun to learn from his mistakes. A child who went to jail and realized what it was to be a man. The Greatest Story Never Told is Saigon’s memoir but it also belongs to the generation raised in the crack era, finally gaining a sense of clarity and maturity. It is real grown man rap. A song like the Faith Evans-supported “Clap” doesn’t just sound like inspiration, it actually harvests it with a church-tinged resonance and Sai revealing to the choir “I remember I used to instigate/now I’m the one breaking up the fight/making sure the tension’s straight.” The “Enemies/Friends” combo is a telling exposé on how thin the line between the two is threaded in any literal stance while the soulful “Do What The Lovers Do” is an enjoyable revamp of the age-old tale of chasing the cat. There’s even rare moments of introspection like airing out crooked clergymen, as heard on “Preacher,” which probably could be considered a lost art these days. In all actuality, Saigon’s debut is flawless in avoiding the fate of being a perfunctory record; nary a second is wasted when it comes to developing topical consistency and overall execution.
Which ultimately results in The Greatest Story Never Told to being a vintage wonder in terms of makeup. The stiff and circular production is a stark contrast to the muscular, symphonic beasts spewing from the albums of the present day. Even more impressive is how the project segues from one enterprise to the next without missing a beat—literally. After killing them softly with spiritual guidelines over a sampling nirvana, its successor, “Believe It,” is primed in the track’s outro to be set-up for an ultimate win. Spearheaded by Just Blaze (who has his hand in all but two of the LP’s 18 cuts) and strengthened by assists from Kanye West, Buckwild and DJ Corbett, the timestamp’s binary code registers on the barcode as timeless, testament of a vaulted body of work that was sculpted to resemble perfection. Even the choruses are succinct and candid, but not in a manner where they sacrifice a credible streamline.
While the future remains an uncertainty, seeing that hype surrounding the album exited stage left many moons ago, the present could not be more paramount for the refectories of Hip-Hop lure. Saigon’s Greatest Story spits in the face of standardization and co-signs gelled in the industry’s entrails. Time for the rest of rap’s delegates to follow suit.
Label: Suburban Noize Records | Producers: Just Blaze, Kanye West, Buckwild, James Poyser, Red Spyda, D. Allen, DJ Corbett, Adam Blackstone, Lamar Edwards, SC, Spanky