Author Topic: New Saigon article in German magazine (translation & scans inside)  (Read 78 times)

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New Saigon article in German magazine (translation & scans inside)
« on: September 08, 2005, 02:58:29 AM »
Saigon - Warning Shots

He is the voice of New York. The streets love him like he does love them. He’s said to become the next big star from the Big Apple. The sins of his youth had cost him too much time to make the wrong decisions nowadays. BackSpin met Saigon in the S.I.R.-Studio in New York.

In jail you don’t have much. Grey concrete walls steal your breath as the keepers steal your pride. Brian Carenard remembers, "You feel like a slave and you feel this depressed restriction and you know what it feels like to be lawless. Guys often younger than me tell me when to go to bed and when to get up". Nearly seven years behind bars. Six years and nine month of sorrow. At the age of 15, his travels through New York’s penal institutions like Napanoch, Fishkill, Coxsackie or Comstock began. What do you have there? Work out? The library? First of all a lot of time for yourself admits Brian Carenard: "If they take your liberty and put you in a cell, you reflect on your whole life. Am I going to be a thug for the rest of my life? Am I going to make something better with my life? I was in the pen for such a long time to make one decision! If I commit another crime and go back to prison I would be done!" Sorrow? Fear? Or even pragmatism?
Brain Carenard speaks of insight. When he was sent to jail he had nothing, his ability to read was at the level of a little school kid. Which opportunities does he have after his bid? Inspired by his fellow inmates, he starts kicking his little raps. That gives you hope at such a place. More and more he starts to focus on reading. He gets hold of a book called "Bloods". It tells the story of black GI's in Vietnam. Twenty soldiers show their destinies in that war. "The black soldiers went to war in Saigon to fuck prostitutes and get heroine. The local people started to spread pamphlets to the blacks saying things like "That’s not your war! Why are you here fighting us? We don’t have any problem with you! We are in a conflict with the white people, with White America! You don’t even have rights up there. Why are you going to war for a country where you have to take seats at the back of the bus? That doesn’t make any sense!" Later many black soldiers stayed in Saigon, they dropped out of the Army and founded their own families!"
Young Brian Carenard absorbs this story. He chooses "Saigon" as his rapper's name. That way he keeps a dark chapter of American history alive, because after the victory of the communists in 1975 they changed the name of this 6 million inhabitants city to Ho-Chi-Minh City in honor of this Vietcong leader.
His own story is just as tragic. Born in Upstate New York and first raised by his mother, Brian later moved to his father living in Brooklyn. He is a problem since he was a little kid. His mom becomes pregnant several times and the boy lacks attention. He is in the streets, more and more. At the age of 11 he starts smoking weed and selling crack. His 4 years elder cousin becomes his surrogate father. He shows him how the whole drug game works. At the age of 13, Brian was dropped out of school. He was playing truant the whole time and his teachers were hard on his heels. At the same time his dad calls his mother a ho and bitch while having a new wife at the same time! His mother isn't able to take care of him. Even assisted living is no way out. Young Brian grounded in the streets. Only the long arm of the law is able to reach out to him…

In 1994 a judge of the Juvenile Court sends him to jail for seven years for shooting two people at a party. One of the victims was beefing with Brian's homies but the other was an uninvolved pedestrian! Luckily for him, Brian was a bad shooter, otherwise he would have been in prison his whole life. While both survived the shooting, there was enough time for Brian to think about his whole situation.

When getting out of jail Saigon had nothing. Rap was the only thing that remained. "Without the music there wouldn't be any way out for me! I would hang on the streets or suffer in jail. I have no education, I didn't graduate, I had nothing! My life was fucked up!" He was forced to finance his first single called "Say Yes" with money earned hustlin' on the streets. "Before getting that deal with Rawkus, I pressed the vinyl with my own money earned from selling drugs. This money helped my career getting started!" Later his deal with Rawkus made him known. But Saigon wasn't pleased with that collabo. "I had some songs and the Rawkus A&R wanted to meet me. He wanted me to release a 12" to see how the people would react and check the sales. They didn't want to pay my studio time. I gave them what I had and this turned out to be the "Say Yes" single. They got the record, I ended up getting a little money and that was the whole deal!"

It didn't take a long time for Saigon to find a way of distributing his music. According to Saigon himself, he was the first to choose that mixtape route, even before 50 Cent brought up his whole empire based on this way of release. But Curtis Jackson showed him a few tricks. "50 told me not to be afraid of smiling on pictures. Somebody may see your face and doesn't want to hear your story. Otherwise, if you are smiling you may surprise the people and you got them! Me personally I would never think about such things!" Saigon even had an offering to join G Unit. But that wasn't his way. "50 said: Whatever you want I got it! But I never wanted to be part of G Unit. He leads the unit like an army but I'm a general. A team doesn't allow two leaders!”

In the light of the beef between 50 Cent and the Game, this might have been a wise decision. Knowledge of human nature is what you learn behind bars. "I was down with G Unit for a short time. Nowadays I rumble somebody much faster. I don’t have to know you for a long time in order to see what kind of person you are! After a month I know anything about you. I got my teachers in jail. Your facial expression, the way you sit or move. Anything a human being does, tells you something, how to get along with this person!"

There are some similarities in Saigon's and 50's careers, but Saigon says they are still different. "I care for the kids; I care for people's life! 50 doesn't give a fuck, he is just about the paper! He doesn't care about things he can't get money from! I'm a different kind of person! Money ain't everything to me. Even if I could drive any car in this world I wouldn't necessarily be happy. Money is just important for those who don't have none!”

Don't expect a joint like "Candyshop" from Saigon! Many things are just too marginal for him. After being in jail there is a major difference between hip hop from jail and the one you see and hear on heavy rotation on MTV and shit. "When I went in, I thought hip hop just needed a dope beat and a catchy hook. But in jail they care about the content. There's no beat, just somebody knocking on the table. There are no hooks, just the lyrics! When I say that my rhymes are jail raps, I mean that I got a message and some content in my lyrics! My words have a meaning; I'm not about a melody! There is much weight in them! If you speak them out they are like a poem!"

With his message Saigon wants to reach the kids in the hood! "I got a younger brother. He's 16 and just like me back then. Once he got caught, and now he's on probation for 5 years. A long time in the ghetto! I don't want the kids to make the same mistakes I did!" He's dead serious about his engagement besides music. For his social project he reached out to Nas. "Nas called me one day and I told him what I was doing for the community. I got foundations of public utility and book banks. Nas is a person with a lot of influence on the hood, even if his last record only sold 600k. But the people love him. Not anybody can afford $15 to buy an album, so sales don't say anything about your standing in the hood. We don't buy records nonetheless we love the artist! 50 didn't sell 8 million records in the hood. The suburban kids buy his records. Nas promised me to help my foundations, even though he's busy as always. We don't need much, he just has to show up to cheer people".

The book banks are particularly close to Saigon's heart, because they allow the kids to read and force that development. To speak from Saigon's own experience it's not cool for kids to go to school. In addition he financially supports quarter assistance with his foundations. "We support kids in social unprivileged families, we buy them toys and clothes, whatever they need. You have to give something back." Any praise for his engagement, and he remains humble.

Saigon, the refined thug who is concerned with morals and giving something back to the hood? Many accuse him of promoting violence and guns in his lyrics. He reacts affronted. "People don't want to hear what I'm saying. I don't glorify that in any song. I'm a peaceful person myself, but not a punk. People make mistakes while looking funny at a peaceful guy. If you kick my ass, I will bite you. That's how I was raised! An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. If you are peaceful, I will be peaceful."

This issue seems to be really important for Saigon because he suddenly starts to rap a few bars acapella. Each of them supports his statements. "You can hear every part of my life in my records. That's the reason I still talk about shootings and guns on my records. I lived with them and went to jail for several years for those reasons. I didn't make up the fact that I shot two people. This is no fictional rap!" He suddenly yells "D-Block", in a depreciatory way, claiming that those guys have never been in jail. He doesn't care about the fact that Styles did a few months not long ago. He compares himself to black icons. "It's similar to Malcolm X. If we don't know anything about the hustler and pimp lil' Malcolm, we wouldn't hold Malcolm X in such a high regard. He had to go to jail too, to become that person and leader. He had to learn where he and his people were coming from."

After his release from prison Saigon didn't get much love. Some DJs didn't even want to play his records. "That's true. I was a nobody. Nobody gave me a chance or listened to the things I was saying. They looked at me like some jailbird. I had to do it on my own. I somehow forced the DJs to play my records by telling them to meet me later after the party… I used their fear! I told everybody they better play my records. And when they spinned them the crowd liked the songs. I often had one chance only. Nowadays I have good relations with most of the DJs in New York." Says Saigon with a smile. "I love the DJs!" Maybe Saigon wouldn’t have succeeded on the mixtape market without their support. Both his mixtapes "Yardfather 1 & 2" sold 40k together and "Warning Shots", distributed by SureShot Records, sold more than 50k.

Speaking of one of the reasons for his success he claims: "I never used other people's beats. That's wrong to me. The people like those known beats because they are hits already. You already won the crowd by playing the instrumental. If you use your own beat they can see who is hot or not! I put out my own work and don't rap on other people's beats. Papoose never rapped on his own beats. Grafh maybe did it once or twice. People may like at most two original songs from Jae Millz. But I got between 15 or 20 songs that the crowd really loves. All those beats are my own!"

Saigon works really close with Just Blaze, his mentor and executive producer. "Most of the time we sit together and talk about the songs. He is often there when I record new songs." Saigon tells about the production of his first official full-length album called "Greatest Story Never Told". It will be out on Atlantic Records. Saigon is really happy with Atlantic's managers Gee Roberson and Kyambo "HipHop" Joshua. "They worked with Jay-Z for nine years and they signed Kanye West. I totally trust them and their ears, and I know what they achieved in the past. They know my vision and they know that I don't want to become a pop star. They respect that I want to come up with a vision and a distinguished message. I will take it back to the hood. That's were the music is from, from the hood of the South Bronx. Nowadays they play our music in the Hamptons. But Bentleys, Ferraris and the whole bling-bling aren't real for a nigga from the hood. Let's talk about the issues that really happen in the streets. Manslaughters, robberies, crack. You destroy other people's households just to buy new kicks or cellies! I'm talking about the things that happen every day, but nobody cares about, because everybody got their own problems. Everybody talks about the clubs, but that's not our reality! I know niggas that never tasted Cristal or drove a Maybach. Often, their mothers don't even have a car!"


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Re: New Saigon article in German magazine (translation & scans inside)
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2005, 10:48:48 AM »
thanks  8)

Saigon = unfuckwitable, other than Tecca nina I couldn't think of anyone better and there's hardly peeps on the same level either