It was my first time at Sneaker Pawn in Harlem, an exclusive spot that’s more than just a sneaker store. I climbed the steps to the brownstone and met rapper Trip Lee upstairs where we took a seat on a bench surrounded by sneakers and sports gear. What a great setting to just kick it! We chopped it up discussing his new album Rise, the journey that led him to choosing his passion of music and much more!


Growing up in Sacramento, Victoria Monét started writing her own songs at a very young age. She comes from a musical family, so one might say that she was born to be a singer. Monét admits that it was a natural fit for her and she’s been singing and dancing for as long as she can remember; getting her start in the church.  She's come along way, now signed to Atlantic Records.  October was a big month for her as she was featured on two tracks on T.I.'s latest album, Paperwork.  She also made her iTunes debut with her own release, Nightmares & Lullabies Act I.  She is more than just another female singer that will be here today and gone tomorrow, Victoria Monét has all the makings of the real deal.  We caught up with her for the full story, before the breakthrough.


Joe Budden was never supposed to make it this far. Whether it was from the drugs or the streets, he probably should've been down and out somewhere. Once the music industry took hold of him that was only supposed to be one more powerful force that would eat away at him and leave for dead. And Def Jam surely tried. Looking back at where he started, it’s a wonder that he's still here. Had it been today's industry, he probably would've succumbed to the politics, but thankfully he's been in it since 2003. Hip-Hop aficionados are grateful for his time in the spotlight and for his Mood Music lyrical diary entries as well as his “emo” rap forays.


Lil’ Mo
emerged on the music scene in the late 90’s lending her voice to hits like, “Hot Boyz” by Missy Elliott, “Put It On Me” and “I Cry” both by Ja Rule. Still it was her breakout single, the 2001 “Superwoman pt. II” that helped solidify her name is music circles. The Fabolous assisted song led to the release of her debut album, Based On A True Story, garnering her tons of fans. With her success came the drama however, including an incident in San Francisco where she was attacked with a bottle of champagne and required 20 stitches. There also came industry beefs with some of the same people she found early success with, most notably Ja Rule.


If you know football, you know Deion Sanders. Primetime! Mr. “Must Be The Money.” Neon Deion. The Hall-of-Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion hasn’t really needed an introduction since his meteoric rise in the NFL spotlight, but these days it’s his moves off the field that require conversation. The second season of his reality show, Deion’s Family Playbook premieres on OWN Network on Saturday, November 1st at 9p.m. EST. For those that aren’t familiar, the show features Deion in a light that many might not be familiar with—Deion as a family man raising 10 children. That’s not all however, as Deion also helps run a charter school in Dallas Texas, Prime Prep Academy for grades K-12, and a nonprofit organization, Prime Time Association (aka TRUTH), which teaches young adults through sports and education.


Jagged Edge's eight album, JE Heartbreak II finds the quartet reunited with producer Jermaine Dupri, label So So Def and their original management Mauldin Brand Agency. The theme here is all about bringing back true R&B, so the guys shy away from Rap features or features of any kind, as well as Hip-Hop infused beats. Slow jams are plentiful in this 12 song album and with Bryan Michael Cox assisting the Casey twins on songwriting and production, its very much reminiscent to the sound of early Jagged Edge albums.



 
 

 

 

It's funny how life works, more specifically the irony of it. As I flipped around on the net the other day I came to a Saigon featuring Styles P visual and wondered what it would have to offer. More of the same? Probably, is what I thought. You've heard many artists proclaim their rebellion against main stream "HIP-HOP," but in a market where "selling out" accompanies a bigger draw and for all intents and purposes, success, how does Saigon maintain? That would be a question for him to answer. The Greatest Story Never Told comes to me when I think of his brand. Such a relatable approach. There are many stories that go unheard, unrecognized, unacknowledged. By the grace of something higher the opportunity to tell his has come, twice. With Part 2 on the horizon, I took a trip up to the Red Offices in Union Square to see just what the sequel had in store.



Saigon opened the night up by describing the album as "more of me and less catering to what I think is wanted, I vowed to make music from the heart." No truer words have been spoken. An easy listen to the content, the lyricism and you you will indeed vouch for the execution of his objective with The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses. Thanking us, the media for support, Saigon ran through a great percentage of the album. Seizing his moment as if it were his debut, seemingly a weight was lifted off his shoulders by our response, our head nods, and our attention.
Saigon is not the mainstream-friendly artist that perhaps Atlantic Recordings thought they had circa 2004 when pairing he and up-and-comer Trey Songz for a collaboration:
"They thought I would make a party song, a song about women, and nightlife; I told Trey we were about to make history." -Saigon

Introspectives like this are what the album is founded on. From top to bottom what he played correlated to the prevailing theme, as I have detailed to you, beginning with "The Game Changer" featuring Marsha Ambrosius, which by the end of the night emerged as the odds on favorite for the first single. To date Saigon has released the aforementioned track with Styles P "Not Like Them" as a warm up. Something of a great debate between he and his mind, which he let us in on, as it regards to where it should be placed on the project, and for good reason, The Intro: "Plant the Seed (What U Paid For)" sets the tone of consciousness to be displayed throughout the entire project. In life we all would do just fine getting out of every situation exactly what we put in. "I hope you got what you paid for," Saigon chants.

The next track, "Rap Vs.Real," if you let Saigon tell it, is a product of his creativity. In the studio one night he began to arrange lyrics to the subtle production which, provides the perfect platform for his dissertation on how much of a contradiction rap can be at times. " Rap is not reality" he remarks, "We are not accustomed to much of what we see in the videos, etc. I know in my hood I dont see Bentleys, and the residents do not have money to blow." Duly noted. And factual, if I may so myself. We know there have been some unfortunate cases, but in the metaphorical; a death of their character in a sense when it is found to be falsified. BUT that is the Hip-Hop of old, not the one which is upon us now, where your lyrics more than your resume is held up to the light.

"Let Me Run" was inspired by Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad" video which features the visual of kids running across the open field of grass. Of course, it is one of life's mystery's as to where they are running to. We are all in our own right, just running. Ambition dictates that we do not want to be just another one. Originalty turns into praise, freedom of creativity into respect. Mix the two up and what do you have, a possible single.

On the DJ Corbin (Cincinnati, OH native) assisted "Brownsville Girl," we are all reminded of our responsibility to our own. Ever-conscious, Saigon does not stray too much, if at all on the GSNT PT II; After a little bit of headbanging, he centers himself once again. "Hip-Hop is a reflection of our community and when you dont see that reflection, there is a disconnect. Who else to re-connect the pieces but us, the artist(s)." A nearly flawless offering, Saigon speaks on the struggles and plight of so many, be it in the ghetto or abroad. Although one may forget the geographics of their origin, it is not possible to forget to lend a hand, and strive to make change; such as those whom he name drops in "Blown Away." The Martin's (not Margiela), the Malcolm's, the Huey's, the Marley's, the Shakur's, the Clarence Smiths (B.K.A 13X). Those whom have served as martyrs, true revolutionairies, which Saigon undoubtedly models his brand after.

Multi-Platinum selling phenom LeCrae lends a hand on "Best Thing That I Found." Described in it can be music, can be family, but surely a higher power. Take a moment, while listening to this track to be thankful for what you found and the origin of its existence whom, or whatever it may be.

In somewhat of an innovative (search the dictionary you will not find the term) way Saigon tackles the existence of that ever-relatable co-existence any man or woman may have with a member of the opposite sex where you have not quite defined it yet. What you do know is that you are more than friends, and less than entitled. One of the shades of grey, I suppose. What better way to embrace its value, benefit, and above all else reality, with the help on Saigon on "Relafriendship."

In his own way Saigon touches on one of the tragic moments in Hip-Hop 2012, with the passing of one of its greatest ambassadors and contributors, Chris Lighty. To hear him tell it, as a former manager Chris Lighty did so much for him, most imporantly being an ear and a supporter. His abrupt passing left Saigon regretful over missed opportunities to tell him how much he appreciates him, and how much he has learned about having to put his destiny in his own hands. With "Forever Dreaming," he does just that.

18 tracks, 18 ways to personify a revolutionary state of mind. 18 ways to teach, 18 ways to show cause for actually being more than a rapper, but a real person. A conscious one in fact. A leader of any whom chooses to follow, and a champion for existing outside the box. This project is by far one of the best that I have heard this year. Dare I say I was surprised. Ironically I was not, but I will say that what I expected was presented in a better way than I would have imagined.

Salute to the brother Saigon and his Greatest Story Never Told Part 2; In stores November 6th. VOTE FOR SAIGON.


Greatest Story Never Told Part 2 receives a PARL

 

Rating:
P…Horrible
PA…Tolerable
PAR…Good
PARL…Kinda Great
PARLÉ… Classic

 


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About The Author
DeVon Hyman
Author: DeVon Hyman
New York City's own DeVon Hyman, also writes under the pseudonym Basquiat. He is working hard to become one of the rising stars in the writing game. With his unique style and imagery, he has carved out a nice niche of consistency and depth in diction. Whether it pertains to interviewing the games up and coming stars, as well as established artists, DeVon has shown that he can handle his own expressively. This diligence has made him someone to definitely keep your eye on.

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