What a difference a day makes. Before the release of his Statik Selektah produced album All In a Days Work, Saigon was one of
the many new school MCs struggling to fulfill their potential amidst label woes
and ever-changing consumer attitudes.
Over the past year, the Yardfather
tried everything from a dramatic MySpace retirement blog to a humorous, pro
wrestling-styled Youtube clip against rivals. But now
with a successful Top 5 debut on iTunes with his digital, one week promoted LP,
Saigon now has the attention back on what should matter most, his music.
Congratulations on the new project. Previously, the fastest Ive ever heard
someone doing an LP was seven days with the Makaveli
album. What prompted you to come up with the idea to create a full album in
just 24 hours?
actually wasnt planned. I went to Statik Selektahs studio which is like some basement in Brooklyn.
He called me to do a record for Grand Theft
Auto, so I thought I was just doing one record. After we did it he was like,
Yo, Im going to play some beats. And every beat he
played sounded like a Saigon beat. I was like Id destroy these so he said, Lets
He doesnt even have a booth in his s**t. The mic is literally standing right next to where hes at with
the computer. So I just went in there, cracked a few bottles open, and I just
started to rap. I did like three songs and Im like, Yo
Statik these s**ts are
coming out kinda tough. We get up to six and we can
do an EP. They were still coming out good. Once we got to eight he was like,
We might as well do two more baby! And we had the album and did the last two.
It was all in a days work.
You mentioned cracking open a few bottles. Was there anything else you did to
help keep your energy up? Theres no audible sign of fatigue on the LP.
Saigon: We did
cat naps but that was about it. The yack had me up.
And Statiks energy, hes all day, hes a beast. His
work ethic is retarded. If it wasnt for him saying lets do another one
[constantly], I probably wouldve stopped after two or three. Hes was like, Cmon,
cmon, cmon. His energy was something new and fresh, and had a real Hip-Hop
sounding feel. I was like f**k it, lets just keep going. Peoples reception so
far is good. We were number four on iTunes on the Hip-Hop charts. Im seeing
dudes whose real albums didnt chart that well over their first two days.
What songs took the bulk of the time to complete over the full day?
Loser and I Warned You. I didnt like I Warned You, the bonus track. I
tried a few times [on it] and was just like, Yo Im
not feeling it. And Statik was like, Yo, trust me! We argued about it for mad long. So finally
when he mixed everything and sent me the product it sounded a little better. So
I told him if he wanted to put it out there it was cool. I really was against
it but now people like it.
Was your dislike due to the way the beat sounded or the overall structure of
Saigon: I didnt
feel the structure. Everything else was like a marriage, [but] that one was
sounding a little forced at first. Everything else you knew right away that was
it. This one was like, Ahh I dont know. Once I do
that too many times I scrap it. But nobody else wanted to scrap it, and was
saying its hot.
Last year you had posted a blog stating you were tired of the industry and
wanted to quit
Saigon: Pulled a
Kid Cudi, baby! Or he pulled a Saigon really. [laughs]
prompted you to change your mind?
Saigon: I was
stopping for all the wrong reasons. The record label politics drove me so
insane. I was trying to leave and they wouldnt let me. I was like, F**k it,
Ill stop rapping, what will you do then? The contract would be null and void,
anyway. But then I thought about how I didnt come into this s**t for that. So
Ill just ignore it and do what I love. I love to be creative and I love the
power of Hip-Hop. People dont know how to use the power, but when its used
correctly we can reach the next generation with this s**t. It can send some motherf**kers to college and help
kids to make better decisions through this Hip-Hop music. We already teach them
how to dress and whats cool. The power is incredible. I figure if Im gonna be a part of it, Ill add on instead of take away.
You admitted that before you felt foolish having to do some of those YouTube
promos, especially the one where youre flexing
[laughs], but I knew it would stir attention. Unfortunately we live in that
situation where its the music business, but the business is everything but the
music. I was putting out freestyles and dope records regularly, but people
would talk about it for a day and then thats it. So when I do something
ignorant and act like a buffoon, it makes for great
conservation and then Im all over peoples minds.
I knew that before I even put it out. I knew exactly what I
was doing flashing cars and money. Let me try some ignoramus s**t and watch me
attract the masses, and it worked. Since 09 Ive been taking swings. That was
my way back in quick and get people talking. That was what started the whole
Joe Budden beef. He lit a spark under me, I cant
even lie. He got me back on. If I was a boxer Id feel like Im training again,
ready to go back out there and get some good fights.
You mentioned that it got you a lot of attention. But then you hit them with the
album that got the focus back on your skills
you think you can put tactics like that behind you now, or does it need to be
pulled out occasionally?
Saigon: I dont
like to play that card, but I will in a heartbeat. If I see it, [Ima say] ok, its time for some buffoonery. Because I
learned a wise man can play the role of a fool but a fool cannot play the role
of a wise man. Its easy to act like a f**king idiot.
For some reason the masses, especially Americans, have the tendency to
gravitate towards buffoonery. They love it.
Look at reality TV these days. All these girls are trying to
date one dude. She watch him kiss another b**ch right
there in front of you, wouldnt you not want this n***a no more? No, you love
him more. But we sit around and are so entertained by this s**t, the same s**t
over and over because were so easily entertained. Thats why Im like if I gotta dumb down my level of conscious to get peoples
attention, every now and then I gotta do it. But I do
it for a reason.
When I was in prison an old-timer told me if you put a
Playboy cover on the Bible more people would read it. He had a good point.
Remember dead prezs video for Hip-Hop? At the
beginning theres a fat ass walking. And then it goes, Now that we got your
attention! Its like that it a nutshell.
Regarding Joe Budden, you surprised a lot of people
in the way you rallied towards the end of that battle. It earned you a lot of
respect. Throughout history, anytime theres a good battle on a lyrical level
the MC involved develop a mutual respect even if they continue to not like each
other afterward. When you went through it with Budden,
did you develop that same respect?
definitely! I never paid attention to his music or anyone elses. Id be in my
own world unless its the obvious like Jay and Nas.
When the whole s**t was going down it made me do a little bit of my history and
research and I came to find hes extremely talented. I was oblivious to the
level of his talent. Im man enough to say that s**t. He shocked and surprised
Amalgam Digital was successful in promoting and releasing your album in just a
week. Do you see any benefit of going to a major again, or is that completely
dead for your career?
Saigon: For me to
go back to a major they would have to break the bank and back the money truck
up so much that it would be an offer I could not refuse. They want too much for
the little bit they give you. Nobody is gonna give
you a million dollar advance without feeling like they own you. The contracts
are like 82 pages, and the one we care about is how much am I getting paid?
Whats my advance? We dont understand that its a loan, an advance on your
royalties, and the money youre gonna
pay us back times 10!
Right now with these new 360 deals they want merchandising,
publishing, touring, all that! And [they want] a percentage of your record
royalties. So youll hardly make a dollar, especially with the climate of
record sales now. Youll never make no money. Id
rather build my fanbase and get my little 150,000
diehard fans that will keep supporting me. Ill rock out with them. Then Ill
gain more and more. The best form of promotion is word of mouth. You keep hearing
about something, itll arise your curiosity to check it out.
When Kanye beat 50 in
that sales thing, Hip-Hop went all the way hipster. That pretty much put the
end to the gangster s**t. [The labels] were like, Oh
he beat 50! Lets sign a bunch of bootleg Kanyes!
For years critics and fans have said that Hip-Hop albums would benefit more
from the one producer-one artist model. Youve been one of the few to actually
put that theory into practice. What is your overall stance on this idea?
Saigon: I believe in the overall cohesiveness of an album. All the greatest albums aside from Illmatic and Ready To Die were overseen by one producer, like RZA with all the
Wu Tang albums, Premier with Gang Starr, and Dr. Dre
with Snoop. To have that cohesiveness on an album and not just bunch of
songs, you need that same guy to oversee the project. You get more bang out of an album like that. A lot of people just take 10
songs and throw them together and call it an album. One song dont got nothing to do the other song, and them s**ts dont last long.
Youve always been a critic of the misogyny in Hip-Hop directed against
minority women and Black on Black violence. Do you see that changing in Hip-Hop
this year and beyond with the influx of a lot of alternative and avant-garde MCs?
Saigon: I see it
changing but Im not sure how impactful that new sound [will be]. One thing I
dont like about the new era of rap is that its almost too sensitive. A man
still has to be masculine to an extent. We have to differentiate men from
women. When you cant do that no more, we have issues.
It doesnt have anything to do with homosexuality. When men
go overboard with fashion and caring about how they look, how they dress, and
get manicures and pedicures, thats a little overboard. Whats the next group
of young men going be like if all we have to look up to are these metrosexual men? Whos going raise
the next generation of strong warriors? Because were going
to need warriors.
Thats what I hate about the marketing aspect of music. Its
become more about marketing, gimmicks, and promotion then the actual music.
Its more about [an artists] hairstyle and what he had on. Its becoming like
Hollywood almost and it was never like that. Corporate America is sucking it
dry and theyre not going to let go until theres nothing left in it. Its up
to us to take back the music.
I like to use the analogy of slavery times. Before we were
taught how to read and write, we would communicate through drums. That was Hip-Hop
in its early stages before they realized they could promote, market and sell
it. Once it became corporate, all the artistic value in it became diluted.
good example of your point would be De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. They were
considered alternative MCs but there was never any doubt about their manhood.
Especially De La Soul because they did their thing but would be the first guys
to pound you out. People didnt realize. They dont come off as aggressive, but
they demanded your respect. So when a person can come off like that, I respect
Theres got to be a balance in everything. It wasnt just
all Native Tongue s**t. If you like more hardcore you still had your N.W.A, Eazy-E, and Kool G. Rap. It
wasnt all one way or else. Thats what its become now. Ok, this is the in
thing, [and] everybody has to do it because it works.
Three, four years ago it was gangsta,
gangsta, gangsta. Now the gangsta sh*t is played out. You
come as a gangster no one wants to hear you. Again, when youre dealing with
record companies theyre only going to focus on whats working at the moment.
When Kanye beat 50 in that sales thing, Hip-Hop went
all the way hipster. That pretty much put the end to the gangster s**t. [The
labels] were like, Oh he beat 50! Lets sign a bunch
of bootleg Kanyes!
Lets talk about the song on the album you have called The Reason. You give
respect to the pioneers but also mention points where you feel they made career
mistakes. You referenced the song Rakim did with Jody
Note: 1989s Friends] .
Saigon: [sings] Frieeends
will let you down!
Good memory! When you look at this generation of Hip-Hop, especially in New
York, this is the first time where the older guard has yet to be pushed out by
the younger MCs. So, it is the older guard that is carrying the music. Do you
think this is due to label politics against the newer MCs?
Absolutely! Theyre gonna milk it until its dry. If
you have an artist that you know will sell you at least a certain amount,
youre always going to put him before a new guy youre not sure of. Thats not
the smart thing, but thats what they do. If you keep giving the same thing
over and over, wheres the change and growth? If a
f**king caterpillar never turned into a butterfly hed be a furry f**king worm
his whole life. You got to evolve. Theyre going to keep milking these artists
until theyre no longer any good to them. And then theyre going to say, Oh s**t,
but f**k it we got our money. They dont care about the culture.
you had to select a new generation of NY artists to take over for Nas and Jay, who would you select?
Saigon: I pick
me, then Tru Life. I feel he can lock down the Latin
market. Hes very dope. Even back to the Fat Boys, theres always been a big
Latino presence. Theyve been there since the very beginning of Hip-Hop. He can
hold down the Fat Joe/Big Pun spot. I figure hmmm damn New York aint got that much to offer. I think Sha
Stimuli is dope and can get a spot. Maino would be
the goon, super goon. We need a fly, flashy motherf**ker to be the new Jay. Theres no one replacing him at the
moment. I like Uncle Murda. Im
also liking this kid Nino Bless. Im really liking
Jay Electronica even though hes not from New York. Hed definitely get a spot.
you think Hip-Hop has evolved, or rather devolved away from female MCs?
Saigon: Oh yeah,
the female element is lacking right now because it became all about sex. It
goes back to whole label thing with marketing. All the female rappers just
became sex symbols. Theyve become porn stars or strippers that rap. Back in
the day you had Nikki D, MC Lyte, these girls were
fully dressed and really rapping. Salt N Pepa was as
sexy as it was getting back then. And they were a really talented group.
The artistic part is suffering so much. That
why Id like to see where it goes from here. When you can blatantly
copycat and bite somebodys sh*t and get no flack for
it, thats almost like snitching. Biting in Hip-hop was like snitching in the
gangster world. To call yourself a gangster and you are a snitch is like
calling yourself an MC and biting somebodys style. Theres a sign on the door
no biting allowed. I cant stress that enough. Remember Aint
No Half-Steppin? [Recites] You have emcees coming out sounding so similar/Its quite confusing for
you remember/The originator/And boy do I hate a /Perpetrator/But Im much
You werent allowed to just bite somebodys sh*t! Look how many people copied the auto-tune s**t. I
give T-Pain the credit because he was the only one doing it at the time, but now
its hard to get away from it. Thats called biting.
you have a set date when youll drop Warning
Saigon: Warning Shots 2 is coming in late June,
early July. Were going to start working the single a little bit more, and give
more of promotional push than this one got. There is a buying population for my
music so were going to start working the single in April and take it from
Everyone should be aware that late last year you celebrated the birth of your
daughter. How has that affected the direction of your music and you as a
Saigon: Man, that
had an affect on the way Im taking my life. Im 30 and I just had my first
child. My life is not mine anymore. For 30 years, my only responsibility was to
me. If I decided to jump off a building, sure my people would be sad, but there
was no one depending on me. Now I have that with this little girl. This little
girl is my whole world. Even the way I talk and treat women I have to be more
cognizant of now because I wouldnt want anyone to treat my daughter that way.
Any final thoughts?
Saigon: I just want to thank AllHipHop
for the love for all these years. For years youve been riding for me. And for
everyone that put my joint in the Top 5 [on iTunes], thank you, thank you very much. The best is yet to come. Look for the
real album soon.