Join Date: Jun 2005
Rep Power: 9
Saigon Interview...(Good Read)
What made you go in the direction of mix CDís instead of putting out an album?
Because when you do mix tapes you have total control. No one can tell you what to put on there. You got 100% control. Thatís whatís wrong with these record labels. All they care about is radio hits and numbers. In this day thatís what itís all about but at the same time, Hip Hop is an art. I like to try new things. I like to be different but they donít want different. They want cookie cutter. They want to find something that works and run behind it. They want to see this pimp thing is working. Thatís why you got everybody doing the pimp thing right now. Because it worked for somebody else and everybody else is trying it. Thatís whatís @#%$ Hip Hop up. These White muthafuckas and these labels that donít really know nothing about Hip Hop is whatís really @#%$ Hip Hop up. If you turn on the radio, you gonna hear the same eight songs over and over. It sucks.
Record labels never learn.
Iíve seen it happen to so many people. Thatís why Iím not so big on the majors. Iím not dying to get signed right now. I donít really give a @#%$. Iím building my brand up so big that by the time they come sign me theyíre going to have to give me what I want. They are going to have to let me do what I want to do because there is a popular demand for Saigon. People want that @#%$. They fuckiní up by holding back because they are all dick riders. Itís like with a girl. If you got a bad chick or a down piece, then all the other girls want you. If the girls see you with a beautiful girl then all the other ones they want to know what you got. Itís the same thing with these labels, theyíre like bitches. If one label comes trying to get you then all of them come.
They donít have a sense that you are good unless another label wants you. People who run record labels are retards.
Because everybody is afraid of getting fired. Nobody wants to take a chance on a new artist because nobodyís job is safe in this music industry. You be making a hundred thousand dollars today and tomorrow you be @#%$ fired.
Were you dissing a lot of other artists in your mix CDís?
About me dissing people? I speak my mind. Iím an outspoken person. I donít have no personal problems with no rappers and @#%$ like that, but if I think a rapper is a bad artist or heís doing something that I donít agree with. I grew up in prison. I went to prison when I was fifteen years old. I went to prison when I was young so all this gangsta @#%$ that these people are glorifying and are trying to make it seem like itís good, I lived that. Thatís my life. Thatís the life I lived. Iíve been in prison cutting people and @#%$ people up. And before that I was in the streets shooting people. That @#%$ ruined my life almost. Luckily this Hip Hop @#%$ is working out for me because I donít have no education, I got two felonies on my record, and I could never go get a real job. I was influenced by Rap. I was influenced by Mobb Deep and the Onyx. These muthafuckas influenced me when I was a kid, and I meet these *****z and they pussies. And that @#%$ hurts me, because how many kids are being influenced by 50 Cent right now. 50 Cent is not running around shooting people like he said in his record. Heís running around with security guards. Heís not saying that in his records. And the kids see him and theyíre like, "yeah, gangsta!" A childís mind is like clay. Theyíre mad impressionable. When these muthafuckas hear these records theyíll go out and get hyped, get drunk and do something stupid, because they listened to a 50 Cent record. Meanwhile, 50 Cent is somewhere in his mansion laying back and chilliní, and this kid is going through the system, ruining his life.
People get the wrong idea about whatís really going on.
I speak on @#%$ like that. Iím not going to sit back and act like I donít see that. Itís the same thing with female rappers. Every female thatíll show her ass and get half naked and talk about her @#%$ and how good her head game is. That @#%$ is @#%$ up because these little girls look up to you and thatís why thereís so many young hoes in the street. They want to be Lilí Kim and they grow up being little trick-ass. I feel itís my job to talk about that.
I respect that you didnít wait for major labels. You did it independent. You hardly see that in New York because in New York everyone is waiting to get signed to a major deal.
@#%$ Ďem. You donít need no major deals. You do at the end of the day, you have to @#%$ with them some way. But if youíre hot and your music is good, do it yourself. Youíll make more money independently. Majors might give you eighty cents an album. You got to sell a lot of records to make any kind of money. Not only that but they spend so much money on making these major labels artists that you have to recoup all that money. You wonít see any revenues from your record sales for a long time, unless youíre selling millions of records. But if you come out and you go gold, youíre broke still and youíre living in the same house. Meanwhile, if you independent and sell a hundred thousand, you made almost nine hundred thousand dollars.
A lot of major artists might be on the radio and on TV but theyíre broke. Independent artists are not on the radio or TV, but they are making money.
Exactly. Like artists like Cormega. Cormegaís eating. You donít see him on TV. Heís not a big star but heís got a big house, heís got a car, muthafuckaís comfortable and got a bank account. All from being independent and selling a hundred 50 thousand records. Everyone has to have a big ego. They want to be the number one on TV, the magazines and everything, but they are broke. I hate to use this word but itís the whole ***** mentality. A person with the ***** mentality, they would rather have on some dirty ass name brand clothes than some clean @#%$ thatís no name brand. They would rather have on a dirty Gucci shirt than a regular clean White tee shirt. Just because it says Gucci on it. Itís sad but true.
Your new CD, Warning Shots, is it a mix CD?
I put out three mix CDs in the streets. I took all the best songs from the three mix CDs and put them on one super compilation.
What was the first mix CD you put out?
The first one was called Yard Father Part 1. It had twenty five songs on it. It was pretty much all me. Rough got one song on there. That mix CD sold like twenty-five thousand copies. That got my name buzziní. Then I put Part Two and that @#%$ did real well for me. People were fuckiní wit me. I started getting in magazines. I did XXL. I did Source like eight times. I was on the cover of Elemental. I did a lot of press just off mix CDs. I even did Rolling Stone three days ago off of mix CDs. People were coming to me. I didnít even have a publicist. I never knew what a publicist was until I did this Warning Shot thing. I never knew what they did. I never knew what it was. Muthafuckas used to come to me and say there was a big buzz on me and they wanted to do a story on me. The streets love. I get respect in the street like Iím a Jay-Z or a 50 Cent. On a national level they donít know me like that because Iíve never had a major label behind me, but when I go to the hoods where the people know me, they love me and they respect me because they respect what Iím doing. I could fill a club up in New York. If I perform in New York, it would be full.
What was the second mix CD you put out?
The second CD was called The Yard Father Part 2. That did very well. That did better than the first one.
Did you have any other tapes out?
DJ Self had a mix CD called Saigon Vs. 50 Cent. They had me going against 50. Not dissing at each other but they had half of the tape with me and half of the tape with him. Because he felt like I was that next dude coming out that could probably take 50ís spot. He put out the mix CD. He called me and told me what he wanted to do. I sent him a bunch of music and that tape came out hot. People love that tape. It wasnít even 50ís big hit record. It was 50 before he even got a deal. It was @#%$ he had out before he was with Dre and all that. That did better than all of them.
Is that still selling on the streets?
Yeah. Itís still on the street. As a matter of fact people are still calling me for that @#%$ right now. Iím not punching up no more because I donít want people to confuse it with Warning Shots. But I still get hundreds and hundreds of orders for them CDís.
How did you select the songs for the Warning Shots CD?
I go by the streets. I let the street decide what they like. I put out music and then I get the response from the people of what they feel is the best ones. I took all the ones the people like the most from when I do shows and @#%$ like that, and I put them all on one. Warning Shots is better than every album out right now, to me. Itís diverse. I donít just stay with one style. I show people I got mad different styles. I show people you can rap about different things that mean something, social things like "Kiss the Babies" and "Shok TV." Then you got songs like "Stocking Cap", and you know ainít nothing sweet about me. Iím not Talib Kweli. Iím not Mos Def. Iím still that muthafucka that will smack you in your face if you get out of line. At the same time Iím about teaching my people and elevating the people. Thereís something for everybody on there. A lot of times people stick with one thing, one theme, and they stick with what works, with chicks, or this or that, but I give them a little bit of everything on that @#%$. Thereís already 17,000 preorders for Warning Shots. We still have another month to come out. Iíll probably have 50,000 preorders before that @#%$ comes out. Iím gonna eat off this @#%$. When all the labels come the price goes up, my stock only goes up.
How do you get the name Saigon?
I got the name from reading this book called "Bloods" in prison. The book was about Black soldiers in Vietnam. When they used to go to Saigon, the Vietnamese, the Viet Cong, they used to drop pamphlets. They used to go to Saigon to @#%$ with the prostitutes and to get drugs. The Vietnamese used to drop pamphlets to the Black people that "This ainít your war. Go home. Our problem is not with you, itís with the American government and the White man." They were telling the Black people that they were over there fighting them and they donít even have civil rights. They were fighting for a country that wasnít even treating them fair. A lot of those Black soldiers ended up staying in Vietnam. They donít tell us this @#%$. The history books donít tell us that. A lot of Black soldiers ended up having families over there and staying over there.
Are you originally from Upstate New York?
I lived Upstate for eight years. A lot of people who know me from that time think Iím from there. I lived in Brooklyn when I was younger. I lived in Virginia and I lived in New Jersey. I come from everywhere. Thatís why sometimes you see magazines that say Iím from Upstate, and sometimes they say Iím from Brooklyn because thatís where I grew up. I say Iím from Upstate though. Itís safe to say Iím from Upstate. Iím from Rockland County.
Where were you born?
I was born Upstate and I moved to Brooklyn as a kid. I used to live with my mother, and then my father took me. My fatherís in Brooklyn. He took me when I was young and brought me to Brooklyn. Then I moved back Upstate. Then I moved to Virginia. Then I moved to New Jersey. Now, Iím back to Brooklyn.
Where Upstate did you live?
I lived in Rockland County. Itís not really Upstate. Itís about twenty minutes from the City. Itís Mt. Vernon and Westchester and all that.
Where did you record most of the mix CDs?
I did it when I was in Brooklyn.
How long have you been doing the mix CDís?
50 Cent is the one who put me up on the whole mix CD @#%$. I donít mean because I seen him doing it but I used to be in the studio with 50, Sha Money XL, and I seen the way he did it. I was already putting out a mix CD before he even put out his @#%$. When I seen him blow up, I was like, damn man you can really put out your own @#%$. I had Kayslay and Whoo Kid, they hosted my first mix CD. They didnít even put it out. I put it out myself. All they did was come to the studio and talk on it. I had to learn how to distribute it. I had to learn how to go put it in stores. I did all that @#%$ pretty much on my own, me and my man Gotti. That was in beginning of 2002 when I came out with my first mix CD.
When did you meet 50 and Sha Money XL?
I met them in the end of 2001. 50 was supposed to sign me when he got on. We had an agreement, Then we got into a big argument because I said something to him and he didnít like the way I said it. I was like, @#%$ me after that because I came to him like a man. I said, I respect what he was doing. Because I didnít know this ***** growing up and @#%$ like that. I just met him. I had just come out of being in prison for seven years. I said I need some help trying to get through this rap thing. He had just signed with Eminem and was about to top off, and I was like, "Yo, why donít you help me?" He was like, "I got you, I got you. Whatever you need." And then when it started topping off, I never heard from that ***** again. I said @#%$ it. Man, Iím gonna knock you off the top.
Why were you in prison?
I was in prison because I shot up a party. I shot two people in this club. Itís kind of ironic. You know the rapper Shyane. I went to school with this kid in Rockland County, Upstate. Heís like a year younger than me. We went to school and we had a mutual girlfriend. Her name was Dawn Richardson. I was going out with her. She broke up with me for him. She dumped me and started going out with Shyane. Shyane ended up knocking her teeth out. You can print this in your book because this is a true story and Shyaneís going to bug out when he sees this @#%$. Shyane ended up knocking her teeth out. They got into an argument in school and he punched her in the mouth. To make a long story short, I shot up a party when I was a young kid. I was fifteen years old. I shot one guy and an innocent bystander. And I went to prison.
What made you do that?
The kid had drama with my men. Back then I was on some @#%$ that if you @#%$ with anybody in my crew, Iím gonna give it to you. He wasnít no angel. He was a muthafucka who was in the street running around doing wild @#%$ too. It ainít like I just shot this school kid or church boy. I went to prison for that @#%$. One day Iím reading a magazine, and I see Shyane in the magazine. I was like, oh @#%$ this is my man, right here. I know this kid. *****z were like, nah, nah, nah. Then one day, Iím watching the news in prison and this muthafucka shoots up the club and did what I did. He did the same @#%$ that I did. I got out a month later and I started rapping. It was like we switched roles and @#%$. I got out and Iím rapping and heís in prison for shooting up the party. I said, thatís for him taking my girlfriend.
How long were you in prison?
I was in prison for six years and nine months. I went to four different facilities. They move you around a lot. I came out in 2000.
Most of your teenage years were spent behind bars. How was it for you?
I grew up in there. I grew my mustache in jail. When I went to jail, I had a fifth grade reading level. I was a kid, I was a baby when I went to jail. I look at a fifteen year old now, and Iím like, damn I was that age when I went to jail. A fifteen year old kid is a small little kid.
Did you decide while you were in prison that you wanted to rap?
Yeah. I met this kid named Rough, and he was the best rapper I ever heard. I was like, "Yo! Game!" This ***** was so good, he inspired me to want to rap. I started rapping and he said we should start a group. I said, "you want to be in a group with me?" I wasnít good like now, but my @#%$ was alright. We started a jailhouse group. I started getting better and better. Around 1998, I was like, Iím gonna go home and try and be a rapper.
What happened to your partner Rough?
Heís home. Heís still with me, too. If you look on the mix CDs, heís on all of the mix CDs Iíve put out.
Is he from your area Upstate?
Heís from Mt. Vernon, as in Westchester.
Do you consider the way you rap to be different from the New York rappers?
I do because what New York rappers are doing is trying to follow whatís going on. Right now, Down South is hot, Midwest is hot, and so everybody is trying to cater to that @#%$. 50 Cent sounds like a Down South rapper or a West Coast rapper. He doesnít sound like heís from New York. Heís not lyrical. East Coast rap is based around lyrics. Down South rap is more how you say it, than what you say. Itís more rhythm and melodic.
Where do you fit in?
Being that Hip Hop started in New York, New York should always have a prominent presence in Hip Hop. Right now the record labels are scared to touch anything from New York. The record labels care more about where youíre from than what your music sounds like. If I tell a label that Iím from St. Louis, theyíll be quick to sign me because of Chingy, because of Nelly, because of J-Kwon. They see the success that these St. Louis rappers have had. And right now, everything is all about Chicago, because Kanye and Twista is hot. They like, we got to go to Chicago to find that next dude. Theyíre dumbshits. As soon as a muthafucka from New York makes a lot of noise, theyíre going to be like, "Oh @#%$, New York is back." And Iím that dude from New York whoís going to bring New York back. Iím gonna bring the lyrics back. You wonít have to sing on every record. You wonít have to fall in love. Every record donít have to be a female record. Iím gonna bring it back to New York as far as "Hip Hop. Sit out in the Park!"
Would you say you are more of a lyrical rapper?
Yeah. But right now you got to walk a thin line because if you get too lyrical, theyíre not going to @#%$ with you. You have to learn how to make it lyrical and at the same time the average person can say your rap. You canít come like these under underground *****z like Aesop Rock and J Lib and all these super underground dudes who rap about the sun, moon, stars and the atmosphere, and all that @#%$, because nobody cares about that. Itís a thin line you got to walk. Iím good at walking that thin line. I believe Iím good at that because girls like my @#%$ and guys like my @#%$. I got a lot of messages in my music. I got a lot of @#%$ for people that like to hear something that means something about social conditions and @#%$. I got @#%$ for muthafuckas that just want to thug it out. I got @#%$ for everybody. My @#%$ is pure, itís real, it comes from my heart, and thatís why people like my @#%$. Plus, my story is real. I donít go on record like Jadakiss whoíve never really been through it in the streets, and kick all this gangsta @#%$. I tell muthafuckas, "look, Iíve been though it, and itís not cool to be a gangsta." A real gangsta is not gonna get on record and be like, "Iím a gangsta! Iím a gangsta!" a million times. John Gotti never got on the news and said, "Yeah, Iím the head of the Gambino Crime Family." John Gotti said, "No, Iím not in the mob."
A lot of people look at it from outside and say they want to be like that but theyíve never been in the situation.
Youíre right. And they glorify it and they make it seem like itís something cool. Theyíre not gangsta and they never been a gangsta. Most rappers have never ever shot nobody and have never lived that gangsta life. And a lot of them talk like they get busy or they did this and they did that, and they never done it. Because number one, if you did that before you was rapping people from your neighborhood are gonna know about you. Thatís one thing I give 50 credit for. If you go back to Queens, and the neighborhood where heís from, muthafuckas will tell you 50 was running around reckless before he got on. He was a wild kid. He used to run around bugginí out. If you go to Yonkers and you ask about Jadakiss, Jadakiss has always been a rapper. Heís been rapping since he was a kid. Heís a good rapper, but he kicks all this gangsta around about killing and this @#%$. Thatís just hurting our people. I really hate these West Coast *****z like Game coming out glorifying the gang culture. Trying to make it seem like itís cool to be a Blood, and itís cool to be a Crip. That @#%$ ainít cool. If you got people like Tookie and Mike Conception, real gang members who started the gangs and then telling to stop doing that, itís not cool, put the guns down. Then why some little rapperís gonna come out and try and glorify it when the dude who started, the dude who really killed nine people, is telling you itís not cool, thatís not a way to live.
You wouldnít do what you did at fifteen because you didnít know better. And a lot of really young kids listen to Rap, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen, who donít understand. But you know, you went to jail, you did it and you understand it.
I understand itís not cool. Luckily that guy didnít die. If that guy would have died that I shot I would never be able to do this interview right now.
Are you working on a full length album?
Yeah, Iím working with Just Blaze. He did a lot of the Roc-A-Fella stuff. He did "Oh Boy", he did "Roc the Mic". He did a lot of Jay-Zís big records. He did Fabulousí biggest records. He did "Pump It Up." And now Iím his artist. He recognize what Iím doing. He recognize my talent. He recognized my grind. Heís ready to go out on his own and start a company, and he wants me to work with him. Heís doing most of the production on my album.
Is the full length album going to have a different Saigon than what we are hearing in the mix CDs?
This is going to be the same thing but better quality of beats. My beats are already good but now I got great beats to choose from. Itís all me. It ainít gonna be that pop happy-go-lucky @#%$. None of that. I donít do that. I refused to do that. I spoke to Just about it. Thatís not going to happen. Me and him have been working closely together and he understands that I love control. I gotta have muthafuckin control over my music. You do everything else but I got to have control of the music. We might disagree sometimes and we can meet somewhere in the middle. But itís never gonna be a situation where Iím doing some @#%$ in my realm or something that is a reach only to be a commercially viable person.
Did you make this album while you were in Brooklyn?
Yeah. I live in Bedstye in the ghetto. I walk that ghetto every day and I get love. I stay in Bedstye right in the fuckiní middle of the hood. Right in the middle of the ghetto. And Iím still there. I love the hood. The hood is where all these muthafuckas claim to be, and half of these muthafuckas never even go to the ghetto. Because theyíre scared of being robbed. Fat Joe walks through the ghetto every day because he got respect. People respect him.
In the ghetto there is so much life happening. When you go to the suburbs, itís dead. Nothingís going on in those rich neighborhoods. All the windows and doors are closed, you donít see anyone. When you go to the hood you see life going on.
Thatís what made me who I am. Even when I was living Upstate, I was living in the hood. I wasnít living in no rich neighborhood. I was living in a poor ass fuckiní hood. There are places in New York that people donít know about because no rapper ever came out of it. Thereís Buffalo. Buffalo is a hood. Rochester is the ghetto. You got ghettos all overóNewburg, even Yonkers. Muthafuckas didnít even know about Yonkers until DMX came out. My music comes from the hood. Itís gonna stay in the hood. And Iím gonna bring New York back, my word. Iím gonna bring New York back to prominence. I love what them Down South muthafuckas do. Itís cool and all that, but we need to use this music as a weapon, is what it is. We need to teach the babies and the children of the future. My generation grew up @#%$ up and if it gets worse than how we grew up, then I feel sorry for the kids coming up now. The Bloods and the Crips in New York right now are off the hook. It has spread incredibly over the past few years. If you go to Albany Projects, itís all Bloods. If you go to Brownzler Houses or if you go to Van Dyke, itís all Bloods and Crips. A lot of these muthafuckas is influencing the kids to do this. For what? What good comes out of gang banging? Itís all negative.
Was it like that before?
No. It wasnít like that. Itís from California. Thatís where this @#%$ started out. Itís some dick riding @#%$. You know where it came from? It came from these music videos. It came from movies. Over here in New York, when I was growing up I didnít know who the Crips and the Bloods were. I heard about them. The first time we heard about that @#%$ over here was because of the movie "Colors." That movie enlightened New York people to what Bloods and Crips were. We didnít know about that. Now, itís wack. We watched these videos and you see muthafuckas wearing all blue. You got other muthafuckas who only wear red. Thatís what making it spread over to here. If you can spread that negativity, why canít you spread something positive like that. What if the Black Panthers were out right now and these muthafuckas were rapping.
It would have set a positive role. But they donít let that happen. As soon as people start talking about Malcolm X, they just bury Malcolm X again. You start talking about Huey P. Newton, they will write something bad about him and itís over.
Right. "Oh, heís a fraudÖyada yada yada," and nobodyís going to take you serious.
No one has time to sit and read Huey P. Newtonís book To Die For the People.
Exactly. Nobody knows about that. Nobody knows about Soledad Brother, George Jacksonís prison letters, or his brother Jonathon Jackson.
Kids nowadays donít even know who George Jackson was. Iím like, "What the @#%$? How you donít know about George Jackson and you know about John Gotti?" Theyíll tell you who Al Capone was, but if you ask them who was Herman Bell or who was Huey P. Newton? Huey P. Newton did his @#%$ when he was only 21. He was a baby doing all this @#%$. He was a kid.
Saigon is a serious ass mutafucka. I think I got record for longest post.