The Score: Saigon, "Greatest Story Never Told"

Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011 12:00PM

Written by Jesse Prince

Buy Now
  • Greatest Story Never Told
  • Saigon
  • February 15, 2011
Planet Ill 3.75/5
Planet Axe 4/5
411 Mania 9.5/10
iHipHop 4/5
HipHopDX 4/5
RapReviews 9/10

New York mixtape king Saigon releases his debut studio album, The Greatest Story Never Told today.

The album has been four years in the making, and Sai is ready to convey his story to the masses.

The New York rhyme spitter has a tale that's as in-depth as his poetics on wax. He was one of the Big Apple's finest upstarts in years and inked a deal with Atlantic Records. He later raged against the machine, however, with his blistering "Trans-Atlantic Slave Deal" when he felt he was being pushed to deliver pop hits and later parted ways with the label. On February 15, the rapper will finally release a collective of material that showcases his full range of skills, from his booming voice, passionate delivery and lively topical offerings. (MTV)

Saigon called on a few hip hop heavyweights to assist with his storytelling.

He's assisted by a jubilant list of features ranging from Jay-Z to Bun B. The opening passages of The Greatest Story indicate that Saigon is both book and street smart as he narrates the sketchiness of street-level drug trades ("the pessimists outnumber the optimists/on the block in this, coppers they got binoculars cuz I can feel em watching us"). "The Invitation" also contains an utterly soulful instrumental courtesy of Just Blaze, which is somewhat unbalanced by Q-Tip attempting to be more lively than usual on the hook. The Just Blaze-produced title track is nothing short of magnificent. Sounding hungrier than ever, "The Yardfather" delivers social commentary along with a heaping portion of braggadocio over smooth medley of horns and jazz guitar, spitting, "we was brought here to pick the cotton/now we pickin the music the master listen to, the clothes in which he rockin." Earlier in the album, Sai proves able of making a commercial record on the Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz assisted single, "Come On Baby." (iHipHop)

The majority of the Story 's production is "blazed" by a few of hip-hop's favorite beatsmiths.

01 Station Identification (Intro) f. Fatman Scoop (prod. Just Blaze) 02 The Invita Saigon f. Q-Tip & Fatman Scoop (prod. Just Blaze) 03 C'mon Baby f. Swizz Beatz & Jay-Z (prod. Just Blaze) 04 War (prod. Scram Jones) 05 Enemies (prod. D. Allen) 06 Friends (prod. Just Blaze) 07 The Greatest Story Never Told (prod. Just Blaze) 08 Clap f. Faith Evans (prod. Just Blaze) 09 Preacher (prod. Just Blaze) 10 It's Alright f. Marsha Ambrosious (prod. Kanye West) 11 Believe It (prod. Just Blaze) 12 Give It To Me f. Raheem DeVaughn (prod. SC) 13 What The Lovers Do f. Devin The Dude (prod. Red Spyda) 14 Better Way f. Layzie Bone (prod. Just Blaze) 15 Oh Yeah (Our Babies) (prod. Buckwild) 16 Bring Me Down (prod. DJ Corbett) (2DopeBoyz)

Recently, Saigon discussed the hard work put into The Story's release.

The number one reason you need to cop Greatest Story Never Told is because I put my blood, sweat and tears into it. A lot of hard work [went] into the album and there's some awesome, legendary guests on there also. A lot of work went into the album. There was a lot of dedication put into it that people will hear when they hear the album. That's the main reason. Basically, it's been so long and it's finally here. I think it deserves that acknowledgement. (5 Reasons Why You Should Buy...)

Although reviewers recognized Saigon's efforts to release an engaging debut, some critics felt that the Story was best told when the rapper didn't venture into unfamiliar territory.

Sparse yet quite noticeable, the biggest pitfalls on The Greatest Story Never Told come at times when Saigon performs out of his comfort zone. Prime example; the radio-friendly record "Give It To Me." Here we find Sai-Giddy swapping thought-provoking lyricism for material bordering on denigration. Granted, it's not as tasteless as "For Some P*ssy" from Warning Shots 2, but its low subject value is costly. With a more rock-oriented vibe on "Bring Me Down Pt. 2," Saigon's delivery sounds flat compared to the explosive drums brimming throughout. In other instances, technical blunders such as the weak vocoder hook on "Believe It" or the failed sample clearance on "Come On Baby" detract from the album's experience. True, it's hard to blame Just Blaze and Saigon on the latter issue as that was solely Atlantic's job to complete, however the re-worked version here simply doesn't match the same ferocity it did with the original sample. (HipHopDX)

Saigon is musically compelling and Just Blaze laid down the yellow brick road on an album that in no way glorifies or over-dramatizes the problems of urban America. There is material for a superior album that is unfortunately saddled by lengthy filler and the decision not to close with "It's Alright." Hopefully this isn't the last story that Saigon tells. Fine tuning would have made The Greatest Story Never Told superior. As is, it's very good. (PlanetIll)

To purchase Greatest Story Never Told, just click here

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