Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told Review
Posted by Bill Wannop on 02.15.2011
Saigon drops his debut album after more then 4 years of delays and record label disputes. Does the title hold true allowing Saigon to tell the greatest story (almost) never told, or is the album all hype?
Saigon is an artist who has had his share of ups and downs in the music business. He spent much of his childhood in prison being convicted of first degree assault at the age of 15. After being released Saigon met Just Blaze and a friendship blossomed which resulted in the young rapper being signed to Atlantic records. Saigon was put out some great mixtapes as well as gained notoriety playing himself on the TV show Entourage. Despite the hype and publicity, Atlantic refused to put out the album unless Saigon added some mainstream artists and more radio friendly tracks. Not wanting to bend on his artistic integrity Saigon refused, and his battle with Atlantic records continued for over 4 years. Saigon eventually was freed from his record contract and given the masters to his album after a long battle.
Saigon quickly signed with Sub Noize who gave him complete freedom to put his album out the way he wanted. His album was given a proper release date and it has remained basically unchanged from the version he recorded 4 years ago. With some tracks from the album being leaked long ago, the album has been on hip hop fans most wanted list for many years, with the anticipation increasing with each delay. Finally seeing the light of day, does the Greatest Story Never Told live up to the hype or was Atlantic right in trying to keep it from never being heard?
1. "Station Identification (Intro)" (featuring Fatman Scoop)
2. "The Invitation" (featuring Q-Tip & Fatman Scoop)
3. "Come On Baby" (featuring Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz)
4. "War [Instrumental]"
5. "Bring Me Down Part 2"
8. "The Greatest Story Never Told"
9. "Clap" (featuring Faith Evans)
10. "Preacher" (featuring Lee Fields & The Expressions)
11. "It’s Alright" (featuring Marsha Ambrosius)
12. "Believe It"
13. "Give It To Me" (featuring Raheem DeVaughn)
14. "What The Lovers Do" (featuring Devin the Dude)
15. "Better Way" (feat. Layzie Bone)
16. "Oh Yeah (Our Babies)"
17. "And the Winner Is..." (featuring Bun B)
18. "Too Long" (featuring Black Thought of The Roots)
The album starts with an introduction in the form of a prison visit, where a visitor drops off a radio to an imate, setting up the beginning of the Greatest Story Never Told. From there we jump right into the track "The invitation" which features Q-Tip on the hook. This song gives you an indication of exactly what Saigon is going to give you on this album; great production that is matched only by the great lyrics and storytelling. This song has a somewhat soulful sound to it and really works at introducing the listener to Saigon. "Come On Baby" has that typical classic Just Blaze production with the great sample and the bum bap sounds with Saigon riding the beat perfectly. The addition of Jay-Z is perfect fitted to the track, and Saigon stays right in step with Hova rapping ‘I Mike Tyson your eye/Put a permanent ring around it/ Then go run in the booth and sing about it/Look, if I don't hurt the nigga that play with my wealth/I'm like me on Entourage god, I'm playing myself”
If you are thinking that you are going to hear the same Just Blaze production throughout the entire album you can think again, as "Bring Me Down Part 2" is laced with guitars and is more a rock beat. While at first I didn’t really think much of this track something about it just stuck with me, and it has to be one of my favorite tracks on the album. The chorus is really what makes the track is probably a great song to hear live.
The album moves along telling tales of friends and enemies, prison, lovers and much more. The theme is constant throughout and really showed that this album had a direction and thought was placed into it. The title track is an example to this and Saigon raps ‘If I bust a gun in the hood I get Attica or the Cat/I bang a gat in Iraq I get a pat on the back/Best believe I know better than that/This a lesson for all my listeners – shit ain’t just regular rap/It’s the greatest story that ever been spat/It’s gonna teach the hood and at the same time make my pockets elephant fat/Go ahead with all the irrelevant rap/Me and my ni**a Just Blaze bring the true element back”
The soulful Clap featuring Faith Evans has single written all over it (as do many of the songs on the album) and the fact that Atlantic turned a blind eye to it, really makes you question their decision making. "Believe It" actually features Just Blaze on the hook and has its fair share of auto tune. What is significant about that is the fact that this song was recorded long before the oversaturation of auto tune, right during the explosion of the popular effect 4 years ago. The effect is not just added to be popular and Saigon really has emotion and passion in the verses. Again how Atlantic didn’t try and capitalize on that craze is beyond me.
The story finally ends with the great song of "Too Long", which features Black Thought of the Roots, and really ends the album on a powerful note. The album is loaded with a total of 18 tracks and while there are ample guest spots, they are used sparingly and never outshine the star, Saigon. The emotion and hunger is evident in the verses by Saigon, and really the album has no filler. I am not going to give it negative points for being too long like some other reviews; with the only drawback that I can see with this album is the fact that a lot of the material has been heard before (years ago). I will be the first to admit that that is an unfair complaint since if Saigon changed the album a lot fans would have complained and you have to give him credit for giving the fans the exact album they have been waiting for all these years.
The 411: Saigon fought long and hard to release this album in its original form, and fans will be happy he did. The Greatest Story Never Told is one of the best hiphop releases of the last couple years. The production is top notch, and the emotion and storytelling that Saigon displays on each track complements it perfectly. There is basically no filler on this record and the only negative is the fact that some of this material has been released years ago. Still as a whole this album is damn near perfect.