For a while, it looked like Saigon's full-length album, The Greatest Story Never Told, would hold true to it's title. But through unbending label demands, questionable side projects and retirement threats, the project has endured, and now that Sai has got the right label behind him—indie imprint Suburban Noize—the project will finally hit listeners' ears February 15, 2011. Here, the Yardfather speaks on finally getting out his masterpiece. —John Kennedy
VIBE: Congrats on finally getting the right deal for The Greatest Story Never Told. How many labels were hollering at you for that album?
Saigon: Like every indie in the world wanted it. [Laughs] Every indie. I went with Suburban Noize because the artists over there have a great touring following, and that's what I want to establish for myself. I want to jump on these tours and touch the people. Make new fans, 'cause they have Kottonmouth Kings and Swollen Members; they do hip-hop with a rock influence, and that's a world that I wanna explore. I always loved the mesh between rock and hip-hop since "Walk This Way" and "King Of Rock" with Run DMC. That's why I do songs like "Come On Baby" and "Bring Me Down."
Before you finally unveil the album, though, you’re dropping The Prologue EP. How’d that project come together.
I just went back into record mode. Warning Shots 2 was a year ago and I haven't put out anything since then, so while people are waiting and anticipating the album, I'm gon' give 'em this EP. All brand-new records. I wanna remind people that I am of the upper echelon when it comes to rapping ‘cause hip-hop fans are fickle, man. They'll forget about you in two days. People are gonna be surprised 'cause I try to do different things.
You tried different things on Warning Shots 2—namely a collaboration with OJ Da Juiceman—that didn’t work out too well. Did you accomplish what you were looking to do?
No. Warning Shots 2 was actually me being lazy. Amalgam Digital offered me like 50 grand for a mixtape, so I just threw some songs together and was like, Here's your mixtape.' [Laughs] A lot of those songs were throwaways, but I wasn't caring at that point. The money was good, but I wasn't thinking of my fans at the time.
Surely GSNT will make up for it. How much has that album changed since you first finished it a couple years back?
It hasn't changed much. We just crossed some T’s and dotted some I’s, tightened up. Change a few lines here and there, but overall, we thought we had a great project that will stand the test of time. [It] was never like I rapped about the latest car or the "in" drink; I rapped about things that we still face every day. [People] would never know that the album was done for two years.
The only other rapper with a verse on there is Jay-Z. Is that by design?
I really wanted it to be about me on my first one. Other artists, they just either do a hook, but that's it. That was definitely by design. I want to establish who I am. I'm working on this last song, though, with Black Thought from The Roots. One of my favorite emcees of all time.
You’ve famously called it the greatest album of the past 20 years. Still feel that way?
Well, I know that's saying a lot, but I shoot high. I think social content-wise, it's definitely one of the best. And Just [Blaze] did an absolutely great job. So yeah, overall it’s one of the better albums of the past era in this genre of music.
Just Blaze produced half the album, but Kanye pitched in a beat, as well. Putting you in the hot seat: Which of the two is the greater producer?