|Label:||Squid Ink Squad|
|Next Project:||The Greatest Story Never Told|
|Twitter:||Saigon on Twitter|
The past two years have been quite ironic for rapper, Saigon. After being signed to a joint deal with Atlantic Records and producer Just Blaze’s Fort Knox Entertainment, Saigon completed recording for his debut album “The Greatest Story Never Told.” Following his last studio sessions, decisions were made about the first single. “Pain In My Life” would be the kicker and everything would then slowly fall into place. However, two years later the greatest story has never been told and is the ultimate pain in Saigon’s life. While explaining this in his MySpace blog, a few comments here and there were misconstrued by Atlantic Records (and producer Just Blaze) and thus began the race to save face. During an exclusive interview with DJBooth.net’s DJ “Z,” Saigon explains why his intentions were over fabricated, why he was never given a release date from Atlantic, and if he would consider quitting music in favor of Hollywood’s guaranteed money.
Listen to the Interview
Saigon Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an artist who has the absolute greatest story to tell, but in order to start that first chapter, the man needs a concrete release date. Newly signed to Violator Management, please welcome my main man, Saigon. How are you?
Saigon: Whassup, Z, what’s goin’ down, man?
DJ Booth: It’s goin’ well, it’s goin’ well, but it’d be even better if I had a copy of your new CD in my hands bumpin’ in my stereo, would you agree?
Saigon: Yeah, it would, it’d be good for the whole world, it’d be better for the whole world. It’s definitely coming, man, we’re crinkling out the crinks. We gonna get it right, we definitely gonna get it right, one way or another.
DJ Booth: Saigon, you’ve had a lot going on the past few weeks. The Internet is such a powerful tool; did you really have any idea that a simple Myspace blog entry would create such a firestorm?
Saigon: I had no idea! The only reason I even put that up was to answer the actual people who hit me on Myspace about, “Hey, what’s goin’ on with the album, what’s goin’ on with the album?” Like I did not think I’d be hearin’ about it on the Wendy Williams Experience a week later, and hearin’ about it on Hot 97 and BLS and people would get offended. I was just answerin’ a fan who hit me every day to know what was goin’ on with the project, I just figured it would just stay right there, and two days later it was all over the world.
DJ Booth: I read your final online response; you apologized to Just Blaze and for the entire situation happening in general, ‘cause like you just said now, you didn’t expect it to get out of hand like that. Have you and Just Blaze talked since then, patched everything up?
Saigon: Oh, we haven’t spoken, but we talked on the text, there’s no hard – Just’s like my brother, a lot of people don’t really understand, we got a close relationship. Like, I put it in a blog, was pretty much like two brothers fightin’ – not even fist-fightin’ but arguin’ in front of a crowd instead of just pullin’ each other to the side and, you know, workin’ it out. We argue a lot, actually, but this is the first time it went public, but me and Just argue all the time. Usually it’s over creative stuff, but that’s what brings us closer and that’s what makes the music so good.
DJ Booth: I agree completely. What would you be happier with: a set drop date but an album that maybe doesn’t sell well, or a further delayed drop date, but the guarantee of a successful, platinum certified album?
Saigon: The latter.
DJ Booth: The latter? Okay. Do you feel there is more you could have done over the past two years since you wrapped the project, to help solidify one of these many release dates that Atlantic [Records] eventually changed?
Saigon: Actually, I never had a date.
DJ Booth: They never gave you anything official?
Saigon: I never had a date; they gave me a tentative date one time, which was the last time, and it wasn’t in stone; it was ‘around this area is what we lookin’ at, dependin’ on when the single drops,’ so I never really had a date. So I never got pushed back. I know a lot of people are like, “They keep pushin’ this album back!” but you have to have a date to get pushed back. I never had a date at all, so -
DJ Booth: Do you regret earlier, not going to them and saying, “Give me a date. I need a date”?
Saigon: Not really, because at the same time, what I understand a lot better now is, they don’t wanna have to start and stop. Before we put out a single, and whenever you put out a single and it goes up, they don’t wanna put out an album. They want your whole album, not only just recordin’ it. I figured I was done once all my rhymes was down. Just [Blaze] still went out later and got features, change-ups, a lotta other things – those things took time. I figured, once I was done rapping – shit, we should be able to go, you know what I’m sayin’? It was a lot more that had to be done to the music before we put it out, and Atlantic knew that, because they, like, “We’re hoping we can push Saigon three singles deep, so we want a first, second, and third single before we start workin one song,” and that song blows up, and the album ain’t ready, then it’s like they jumped the gun. Like they wanna line up the dominoes before they push ‘em down, and I can understand that. At the time it was just wasn’t being brought to me like that, it wasn’t being expressed to me like that, it was just pretty much I felt I was gettin’ the run-around. That’s part of what sparked a little bit of my frustration.
DJ Booth: Well, a lot of changes have taken place, especially over the last week. You just signed a major management deal with Violator, whose company’s responsible for the careers of artists such as 50 Cent, Busta [Rhymes], L.L. [Cool J]. Now, before you got the deal, you basically managed yourself this far in your career, correct?
Saigon: Before I was with the management company I was pretty much managin’ myself, and then I got with this management company called the Firm, who’s not only based in LA, but didn’t have nobody in New York, on the day to day for me. They were based in LA, but they don’t even do really hip hop. Only hip hop artist they got is Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube, which are not really hard to manage. It was pretty much like me on my own. They didn’t care about the street level. If I called them and talked to them about doing an interview with you, they woulda been like, “What? It’s not Billboard? It’s not Newsweek? Then we don’t care about it.” It was pretty much like, I was over there for two years, just doing everything I was doing on my own, like, the white rapper shows, the keep myself in the public eye while there was no music out, keepin’ myself on MTV, pushin’ “Pain In My Life,” doin’ all that. I was doin’ [it] without the help of no management whatsoever; a few friends of mine, who had a little connect, but never no management. Like I said, this little two weeks I been with Violator, I already have a greater understanding what management is for. I was doin’ it, I didn’t even have to be doin’ it; I shouldn’t have been doin’ it.
DJ Booth: Saigon, at any point over the past two years, since you essentially wrapped up the album, did you realize, that the title, “The Greatest Story Never Told,” would sadly be so ironic?
Saigon: Naw, I didn’t man, I didn’t at all. It’s funny every time I say that, people are like, “That’s exactly what it is gonna turn out being.” Greatest story never told, right, it’s never gonna be told. I didn’t and it’s funny the irony of it, hopefully Lord willing it’s gonna be told this year. I’m geared up, everybody’s geared up. Man, I plan on workin’ my situation out with Just Blaze, not just because of business but because that’s my friend. I’m cool with family, I’m cool with, like, it’s not just a situation where, if Atlantic dropped me today that I wouldn’t talk to him again; we’d still be friends. Definitely gotta iron that out correctly. Things should be all right, man, things should be good.
DJ Booth: The way I look at this situation, the longer it takes for this album to drop, the more anticipation there’s gonna be for it, and if it’s as good as you say it’s gonna be – and I’ll believe you on that – it’s just gonna make everybody that more anxious to pick up a copy when it does drop in the stores.
Saigon: Yeah, I agree as well. We both put our hearts and soul in this album, and Just – like, I’m not even gonna front, Just went above and beyond what he was contractually obligated to do, to make the album even that much better. He did a lotta stuff on the strength of who he is, that he didn’t really have to do; if he didn’t care about this project, he coulda easily took the money and ran, you know what I’m sayin’, and said, “Okay, I’m contractually obligated to do a certain number of tracks, so I’m gonna do those tracks and go make my money,” but that ain’t what he did. This is his baby as well; this is his first album that he’s overlooking, essentially from top to bottom. You don’t establish yourself as a producer without producing a whole album. You gotta produce like RZA did, all the Wu-tang stuff, Havoc did the Mobb stuff, Premiere did all Gangstarr, you know, Dre did numerous albums, even Kanye, Kanye did all his albums, John Legend. This is Just’s first one. As established as he is, people don’t even realize that.
DJ Booth: Just Blaze put in the time, so it would behoove him, of course, to stick around for that payoff, which, sooner or later, is definitely gonna come. I wanna switch gears just a little bit; most artists who are awaiting the release date of a major label debut, spend all their advance money, and just wait around. However, you’ve actually dipped your hand into Hollywood’s endless sea of money, and enjoyed a recurring guest star role on one of my favorite TV shows, HBO’s Entourage. Now I need to know: would you consider quitting music if a flood of acting roles poured into your lap?
Saigon: Actually I’m looking at ten scripts right now, and I would never consider – man I love music, I love hip hop music, like I said. My Moms used to rhyme; you know what I’m sayin’ …my Moms used to rap. I grew up – like I never knew a time when it wasn’t hip hop. A lot of older peoples’ be like, they remember a time when there was no hip hop, and I was bred on hip hop music, so I will never ever consider that. If I had to choose one over the other, it’s definitely music, all day long. I’m gettin’ some good scripts, and you know, I’ll be doin’ a lot more acting, but if I definitely had to choose one, it would definitely be the music.
DJ Booth: Okay. Let’s say you could create a hip hop Entourage that you would tour with nationwide – who would you choose to join you? What other three MCs would fit the bill, with Saigon?
Saigon: I would choose 50 Cent, Jay Z, and, Snoop.
DJ Booth: Snoop, very nice, a little West Coast appeal.
Saigon: Snoop would bring all the trees so we would smoke good. Do it the whole tour. [laughter]
DJ Booth: That show would sell out every venue worldwide.
Saigon: Oh man, easy, easy. It would sell out before you put the tickets on sale.
DJ Booth: Just by this interview, right now, the rumors that are going to be spreading about, “Oh my God! They’re going on tour! We gotta get presale tickets immediately!”
Saigon: [laughter] I wish, man, I wish. I’d be the curtain-jerker, I’d be happy to be the first act on that tour.
DJ Booth: Definitely. Okay, let’s say worst comes to worst, what does Saigon do, if come January 2008 – so we’ve already flipped the calendar, if “The Greatest Story Never Told,” still remains unheard?
Saigon: Aw, man, don’t you scare me with that.
DJ Booth: And we don’t want that to happen, I’m just saying, what if?
Saigon: As long as I still got my team in place, with Chris and Laurie with Violator on board, and we’re already what I had with G, and Just Blaze. I mean as long as everybody still interested and they still believe in the project, I wouldn’t be too nervous, because the team that I got in place, they all know the game, they all know how to win, they’re proven winners. I’d be little bit upset, frustrated, but I wouldn’t give up, I’d be like, “Long as these people are still interested in me, and they’re still willing to work with me and be behind me, then I’ll still keep pushin’.”
DJ Booth: Beautiful. Go ahead, give all of your die-hard fans and my listeners, your website or your Myspace address so they can find out more about what you’ve got going on, and when the date will be, when the eventual drop does come.
Saigon: myspace.com/saigonthayardfather or you can go to www.abandonednation.com; I got a non-profit organization, if you wanna help some kids, whose parents are incarcerated, whether it’s monetary or tangible: books, whatever you wanna send in. It’s www.inarmsreach.org, there’s a link to it on abandonednation.com, so, if you wanna do some good deeds, you feel like you been doin’ a lot of bad things and you wanna do something good, you know, you can do that. Just peace and love man, watch out for the music, the album is crazy and, you know, hip hop is alive, baby!
DJ Booth: I appreciate your time and I wish you nothing but the best of luck on this entire endeavor.
Saigon: Thanks very much Brian. I appreciate you a lot, man.