"can we revisit Saigon's "GSNT" and discuss how incredible it is?"
For whatever reason I hadn't gotten around to listening to this album until early last week (which is strange considering how big of a JB fan I am) and since then I haven't listened to anything else.
This album is very high caliber. Beats, Lyrics, Subject Matter, Concepts... it's all there.
The thing that stood out to me right away was the way the tracks were all sequences together. It's not as if the songs were sporadically placed on the album, there was actually thought and effort put into the beats and concepts, allowing for a seamless song-to-song transition. Let's be honest, how many albums can you think of where the tracks blend seamlessly together like that??
Now, onto the production. Well, what more needs to be said, an album that consists of 90% just blaze beats... yeah.
Lyrics/Content: This was probably the most interesting thing... Saigon was able to pull off a substance-heavy album without being pretentious or overly cliché. In fact, he does it in a refreshingly conceptual way. And he's able to hold my attention throughout the entire album.
Lastly, this album appears to have everything that a "real" hiphop fan would want from a pseudo-mainstream release. Not even the singles pander to "mainstream" standards. Why did this album fall under the radar like it did?
4. "Still haven't heard it, but I plan to" In response to Reply # 0
This is the second strong recommendation I've run into in the last couple days, so I think I owe it to myself to check it out. I was interested in it until it took so damn long to come out... by the time it got here, I was exhausted and had moved on.
12. "damn, Enemies/Friends is boss for me" In response to Reply # 11
actually, I had a whole lot to say about this album when it came out, so I'll just dump it here for shits and giggles.
maybe part of why I like it so much is I'd never listened to or cared about Saigon before this dropped? a lot of the negative posts in here talk about being tired of waiting (which is kind of weird IMO, but whatever)
oh well, love it.
The Greatest Story Never Told (Produced by Just Blaze unless noted)
1|Station Identification (Intro) (feat. Fatman Scoop)|2:43 2.75 - 3 2|The Invitation (feat. Q-Tip & Fatman Scoop)|4:36 4 - 4.5 3|Come on Baby (feat. Swizz Beatz & Jay-Z)|3:44 5 4|War|1:59 (Produced by Just Blaze & Lamar Edwards) 3.25 - 4 5|Bring Me Down, Pt. 2|4:47 (Produced by Just Blaze & DJ Corbett) 3.75 - 4 6|Enemies|3:41 (Produced by Derek Allen & Just Blaze) 4.75 - 5 7|Friends|1:50 5 8|The Greatest Story Never Told|4:00 5 9|Clap (feat. Faith Evans)|6:30 4 10|Preacher (feat. Lee Fields & The Expressions)|4:22 4 - 4.5 11|It's Alright (feat. Marsha Ambrosius)|6:00 (Produced by Kanye West) 4 - 4.5 12|Believe It|6:01 3 - 3.75 Fantastic verses, drags on for way too long. 13|Give It to Me (feat. Raheem DeVaughn)|5:17 (Produced by SC & Just Blaze) 3.75 - 4 14|What the Lovers Do (feat. Devin the Dude)|4:15 (Produced by Red Spyda & Just Blaze) 4 15|Better Way (feat. Krayzie Bone)|4:30 4 16|Oh Yeah (Our Babies)|4:14 (Produced by Buckwild & Just Blaze) 4 - 4.75 17|And the Winner Is... (feat. Bun B)|6:19 (Produced by James Poyser & Just Blaze) 3.5 - 4 Just explores the dynamics of the "Magnificent" sample from Rick Ross. 18|Too Long (feat. Black Thought)|4:11 (Produced by DJ Corbett) 4.75 - 5
The year is 2007. Papoose and Saigon are two of the hottest new names on the New York radio and mixtape circuit. Saigon in particular is buzzing due to the heavy cosign from Just Blaze, who's branching out from his Roc-A-Fella house work to provide most of the beats for Saigon's debut. HBO's latest hit show Entourage is buzzing and Saigon gets an extended arc as Turtle's first signed artist, Saigon. His album is called The Greatest Story Never Told, and at the time, the title seems more half-assed than exceptionally appropriate.
Over the following four years, Saigon would retire from the industry and unretire in a 48 hour period, dip in and out of social media feuds with Just Blaze and his bosses and cut two well-regarded mixtapes in addition to an album with Statik Selektah written and recorded in 24 hours. But in all that time, one couldn't help but notice The Greatest Story Never Told was living up to its name. In late 2010, the most unlikely of saviors - Kottonmouth Kingz' Suburban Noize label - finally stepped in as a distibutor, and less than four months later what took Atlantic months and years to unsuccessfully release Suburban Noize had in the hands of fans. This puts The Greatest Story Never Told in an interesting position: released with relatively little fan fair, what was once one of the most hyped debuts in hip-hop is now an early-year release dropped under the dark of knight on a mostly unsuspecting public. Was it worth the wait?
For the most part, yes. The album starts with an unnecessarily unclever skit about the P.I.G.S. hosting a party you don't need an invite to; they'll even come pick you up! The party, of course, is prison, and the only qualification you need for entry is "real niggaism". But the actual song based on this analogy, "The Invitation", is more forgiving to the listener's intelligence and doesn't literally spell things out for you. It's really with the "Come on Baby" remix featuring Jay-Z where The Greatest Story Never Told begins. In my mind, there's no doubt Just Blaze's chop of J. Geils Band's "Southside Shuffle" is one of his hypest concoctions. Jay and Saigon trade super slick, hype verses in the old school New York tradition of tracks real enough for the heads but heavy enough for the clubs. The song is sort of a swerve, though, because the rest of Saigon's album is strictly on the conscious tip. Lamar Edwards of 1500 or Nothin' stops by to drench Just's sampledelic "War" skit in synthesizers and possibly corrupt Just's sound forever (see: Maino, "All the Above"; Eminem, "No Love"; Saigon, "Believe It") before we get launched into the highly nihilistic gut of the record.
Here Saigon laments the staggering number of people who've left him for dead on "Bring Me Down, Pt. 2", "Enemies" and the awesome "Friends", crafted from a sample of "Comment" by Charles Wright that bubbles out from under the surface of "Enemies". At one point in "Friends" Saigon mentions being in jail shortly before transitioning into the title track, bemoaning the numerous social institutions that intentionally and unintentionally keep blacks supressed in the projects and urban communities. It's one of the first glimpses into the loose conceptual bait of Greatest Story Never Told: many of the raps here are written from the point of view of a man sitting on his cot, wondering how he ended up locked up and marginalized. "The Greatest Story Never Told" also contains one of my favorite lines of a young 2011: "Turn on a TV, all I see is celebs cakin' it / Feel like they got all the bread but ain't breakin' it / I'm takin' it, soon as I find the oven where they bakin' it!" The title track is really one of the great political thrillers outside of the Roots' last three albums that marries politics to hype beats and regular hip-hop favorably. Saigon never feels like one of those typical cats, unabashedly and somewhat hypocritically slandering your favorite hobbies and the basics of human nature while finding little time for answers.
Unfortunately, while the music that follows this track is pretty uniformly good, it's a lot harder to truly care about compared to the first half. My theory is some of that is owed to the R&B segment immediately following "The Greatest Story Never Told". With their dreamy hooks and 6-minute runtimes, the tracks with Faith Evans and Marsha Ambrosius ("It's Alright", produced by Kanye West) aim for epic social justice but just end up overstaying their welcome and slowing the momentum the album had built to that point. Again, they aren't bad songs - "Clap" in particular is quite good though definitely three minutes too long - they're just songs that could have used some trimming, or perhaps not been placed so close together. "Believe It" is in this same area and, again, eclipses six minutes. In other words, twenty of this album's eighty minutes is condensed into just three tracks. Perhaps in some other genres this would work, but in hip-hop and this album in particular that kind of time consumption definitely does more harm than good to the flow of the album. What feels at its various segments like a modern classic somewhat sabotages itself, drooping down to Stimulus Package status. Great, but missing that certain dynamic something.
In fact, editing mars much of the back half of the album. The features become more prominent, with guys like Devin the Dude, Bun B and Layzie Bone appearing mostly because they've been invited to, and guys like Buckwild, James Poyser and Red Spyda dropping by to assist on the production. While these songs add freshness to the album for those who were bootlegging versions of the album over the past four years, they really feel deviant from the first half's concetrated effort. This second half puts in a lot of work toward making The Greatest Story Never Told feel like one part album, one part collection of tracks recorded in the interim. By the time we hit the bonus track featuring a typically raucous Black Thought guest verse, the excitement roiling throughout the LP's first half has subsided into a lukewarm collection of decent-to-good tracks. Saigon slips from next best thing to less lyrical Skyzoo. If you're aware of Skyzoo you understand that's by no means an insult, it's just to say that Saigon no longer feels special by the end of this album. But overflowing tracklists aren't new or in any way unfamiliar to hip-hop, so it's not the biggest complaint in the world and I'm sure after four years trying to release something, the artist might want to cram it with as much content as possible. When the album's protagonist awakes from his dream as a rapper spilling his message live on stage with legend Bun B, he finds himself berated by his Correctional Officer for being slow to fall in line for lunch, but we're not left with the emotional impact I feel Saigon desired. But we are left with supreme evidence Atlantic should have put this album out years ago.
I never thought I'd utter these words, but thank you Kottonmouth Kingz. You guys are the best.