Saigon: Don’t Kill the Messenger

November 14th, 2012

(Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage)

By Gee King

The commercial success that once seemed imminent for Saigon is now a distant memory. Despite entering the game in 2004 with co-signs from Just Blaze, Jay-Z and Mark Wahlberg (who placed the then unknown MC on the HBO hit Entourage), his promising career was derailed by label politics and his own questionable exploits away from the mic. He braved the industry storm and finally released his debut, The Greatest Story Never Told, in 2011 to critical acclaim and humble sales. But despite finally finding his place in the hip hop landscape, the roughneck lyricist is not content with the state of the industry.

During an interview with Power 105’s The Breakfast Club, Saigiddy took some of his more well-known peers to task for misuse of their power and influence. He specifically targeted Rick Ross and 2 Chainz, arguably the two hottest rappers in the world right now, saying he wants to punch them in the face for making music that’s detrimental to the youth. “These companies market the music to children,” he exclaimed to DJ Envy and Charlemagne, citing concern for his own daughter. “I’m not tryna have to battle with my own kid because she’s influenced [by “All I want for my birthday is a big booty girl],” he said after suggesting that MCs market their music like pornography instead of peddling it to kids.

Bypassing all of the usual explanations for a frustrated MC running his mouth about peers who are more successful than him — he’s a hater, he just wants attention, it’s not like his music is rated PG — Saigon’s point deserves some thought. Whether an ex-convict with songs about murder, sex and greed is the perfect person to deliver this message is irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. We can grill the messenger all we want, that doesn’t make his message any less valid.

Saigon said it was a recent visit to 106 & Park that opened his eyes. He was shocked to see adolescent girls and boys shaking and singing along to songs about sex and violence, a reality that’s existed since hip hop’s mid-1990s heyday. How he missed it all these years is another matter, but his critique certainly holds more weight than outside critics like Bill O’Reilly or Bill Cosby. “For me to find progressive rap, I gotta go search high and low because it’s hidden,” he explained, voicing a complaint hip hop fans have had for over a decade. But as most of those fans have realized by now, the American corporate structure that mainstream hip hop is entangled in is the true culprit.

As frustrating as it is to see intelligent, charismatic artists like Ross and 2 Chainz hypnotize kids with toxic imagery, they are only pawns in a much larger game. As Saigon saw during his seven-year struggle with Atlantic Records over the release of his debut, the record industry’s only concern is making the highest profit possible and any MC that isn’t on the same page is quickly disposed. So, sure, it’s hilarious to picture Saigon punching Ross or 2 Chainz but it would be truly inspirational to see he, Ross and 2 Chainz use their brains to harness their collective powers and find a way to take control of the culture back.

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