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Jul 19 - Saigon:"They (CIA) love 50 Cent. 50 Cent works for them."

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Jul 19 - Saigon:"They (CIA) love 50 Cent. 50 Cent works for them."

It is not every day that a Hip-Hop artist comes along who has both Jay-Z and Nas publicly singing his praise. It is even more rare, if ever, that such an artist has spent nearly 7 years in jail, starting at the age of 15. While Jay-Z and Nas were getting ready to blow, he was getting ready to be incarcerated.

But as hard as it may seem for the average image-conscious rap fan of today to accept, 27-year old Saigon shouldn't be judged, even as an artist, by the endorsement he has received by two of the greatest rappers who ever lived, nor by the time he spent behind bars. There is so much more to this human being, who the majority of people are about to meet courtesy of Atlantic Records, when his debut album, "The Greatest Story Never Told" drops this fall.

Backed by some of the hottest production in the business; a major record label that is hungry to establish its presence in its competition with Def Jam; a few years of street buzz and credibility thanks to his presence on the New York City mixtape circuit; and one of the most unique and controversial records to drop this decade - the anti-gang banging, "Color Purple" - Saigon is poised for big things this year, commercially and otherwise.

When BlackElectorate.com Publisher Cedric Muhammad named Saigon as one of the four most important rappers on the horizon, he did not do so lightly. He did what he did not only because of what he heard in Saigon's music, but what he saw of his mind and heart, from a distance; and because of his awareness of the time and the critical circumstances that Hip-Hop and Black and Brown youth find themselves in. Important times require important people, and there are clear and not so clear indications that Saigon is one such individual.

His production is of a high quality, with tracks provided by Just Blaze (Saigon is actually signed to the platinum producer's record label) and Alchemist; his lyrical flow and voice is distinct; his content is even more so, with street, political and conscious rhymes put forth with seemingly little effort. But it is what motivates him that is drawing the most attention for this artist on the street, underground and on the Internet. Who else concludes their biography, disseminated by their major record label with the following statement: "I'm gonna do my best to sell records, that's the business I'm in but at the end of the day, I'm gonna maintain my integrity. I have to tell the truth, especially in black and brown communities. It's my duty to open up a few minds."

So despite the bounty of his artistic gifts and attributes - production, lyrical delivery and content - which Hip-Hop fans are about to enjoy at a ma$s level, if he has his way, it would be primarily his mind, heart, and work among his people, for which Saigon would like to be remembered.

In order to get a better view of the Brother that some say, better than any other today, embodies street credibility, consciousness, and talent; Black Electorate.com Publisher Cedric Muhammad recently spoke with Saigon for over two hours for a wide-ranging conversation about the rap artist's worldview; his life experiences and vision; and the music industry.

Today we publish Part I of that interview.

Cedric Muhammad: Peace, Saigon how are you?

Saigon: How you doing?

Cedric Muhammad: Good. It’s good to talk to you Brother. First I wanted to say thank you for granting us the honor of interviewing you. I think very highly of you. I see a lot in you and I want to bring some of that out, hopefully with some of these questions.

Saigon: Thank. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Cedric Muhammad: It’s definitely coming from the heart. You are one of the most important, if not the most important artist on the horizon. Now, where are you right now creatively speaking, is the album done?

Saigon: The album is not done. We are in the midst of finishing it. It is about 60% done. More than half way done but, Lord Willing, I will be done by the end of the summer, and I will get it out there to the people. And hopefully they are ready for it because you know I am coming with the truth on this one. I don’t care about radio spins. There is a bigger plight. Know what I mean?

Cedric Muhammad: Exactly. Now, for the record, what is the name of the album going to be – "The Greatest Story Never Told" or "Letter To Black America"?

Saigon: "The Greatest Story Never Told" is the album title.

Cedric Muhammad: Ok, because I had seen some other information on that.

Saigon: Yeah. That was because they switched it at one point because I had a little conflict with another artist but I settled it and went back to the original title.

Cedric Muhammad: Good. In some of the articles that I have read, I saw some very interesting background information on your name, “Saigon.” And I know a lot of people do not know that history so just for the benefit of our viewers and those who are getting familiar with you, how did that name come about and what is its significance as it relates to Vietnam and Black people?

Saigon: They have always done us dirty in this country but they really pulled some tricks from under their sleeves for that war. These people were using the media and things of that nature to promote (Black people) going over there fighting against the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese people, as a way to prove that you were worthy to be a real American. They ran one Navy ad that said, ‘We Will Take You As Far As You Can Go.’ This was the ad they were giving to the people to get them to join the Army and Navy. And when they went over there to fight it was the natives of Vietnam, in Saigon, who were telling Blacks, ‘this ain’t your war.’ They used to drop pamphlets for the Black soldiers - when they would go to Saigon to f--- with the prostitutes and get drugs – telling them ‘this is not your war.’ I actually have a copy of one of those pamphlets that they were dropping. It is on my DVD. You get to actually see it for yourself. A lot of people are not hip to these kind of things, that the Vietnamese were doing toward Black soldiers. They were telling us, ‘you guys don’t even have civil rights. Y’all are in America fighting for civil rights and you are over here fighting for a country that won’t even let you drink out of a decent f-----g water fountain.’ So it was deep. That city, Saigon, its name had a ring to me. It is a war torn city and there is a lot of history in that city so I figured I would take it as a moniker and the same way that the Vietnamese tried to put Black people on to what was really going on - is what I try to do with my music.

Cedric Muhammad: A friend of mine, often talks to me about prison, time that he served, and that of others, and he frequently makes a point that whenever a person says that they came home from jail or prison, he gently corrects them (to make a point) and tells them ‘well you just went to school.’ So I wanted to ask you since that is such a big part of your background – how did prison shape you and influence the way that you think today?

Saigon: Well, not to dispute what your man said, but, I think it is only ‘school’ if you go there and make it ‘school’. Because honestly speaking most guys don’t go there and make it ‘school.’ That is why recidivism is so high. Most guys go there and lift weights and play basketball, honestly speaking. They get diesel and gain weight, so that they can come home and mess with more women. So you have to take the initiative and teach yourself and don’t use that time in vain. Because what they do, is just like in the streets, the sports thing (is big) in there. They have basketball season where the inmates can join a team and it gets to the point where they put statistics up on the wall so everybody can see how many points everybody is averaging a game. So you have basketball season which lasts two months, then you got baseball season, then you have football. Before you know it a whole year has gone by and you are so entertained by sports that you are not even realizing that you are doing time anymore. So you don’t take time to build your strongest muscle, which is your mind. It is very seldom that people will go there and do that. A lot of people do but most of them don’t.


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