New Saigon & Just Interview - Speak on Amerikaz Most, Illmatic, Wu & 50 cent
|New Saigon & Just Interview - Speak on Amerikaz Most, Illmatic, Wu & 50 cent|
LIKE MOST KIDS IN THE ’90s, Brian Carenard grew up on a steady diet of streetlife fables from all his favorite rappers. Unlike most kids,though, Brian was listening from the other side of the looking glass.By the age of 15, he was already in jail for attempted murk, where he had the pleasure of watching emcees get rich glamorizing the very choices that destroyed his own life. As you can imagine, it left a bitter taste in his mouth. For the rest of his seven-year bid,he committed himself to reading voraciously and teaching himself how to rhyme, readying himself for the day he could tell his side of the story.Finally,in the year 2000,he hit the streets reborn as the rapper Saigon, bearing the antidote for a poisoned hip-hop nation.While his impeccable street credentials earned him a place at the table, his drive to transcend that past quickly set him apart. Combining intricate, thoughtful wordplay with the bravado and backstory to match the hardest thug rapper, he quickly rose through the ranks of the mixtape circuit. After flirting with several majors, Saigon landed in the hands of super-producer Just Blaze, as the first artist on Just’s new Fort Knocks label. We caught Saigon hanging with Just Blaze at the legendary Baseline Studios, where Just helped build Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella empire. It was well past 2 a.m., but they were just getting started, plotting how to make history one more time, and show us all a deeper truth beneath the desert of the real.As you work on this project,what classic hip-hop records are your points of reference?
Just Blaze: I keep coming back to AmeriKKKa’sMost Wanted and Illmatic. Illmatic for that rawness and that New York boom bap, and AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted for the emotion, the anger, just the force of it. You felt that Ice Cube had something to say. He was pissed about the conditions people were living in, and the b0mb Squad’s production had that same revolutionary drive. I’m trying to figure out how to combine those elements.
Saigon: I like [rip] Certificate, actually. That’s my !!, because it was gangsta but it was still conscious. He had songs like “Be True To The Game” that made sense, instead of like Chuck D said, rhyming for the sake of riddling. Of course Illmatic, and Wu-Tang’s first album because of the simplicity. It showed that less is more. All the mistakes on that album that they kept, that made it perfect.
Just Blaze: Yeah, there’s crazy mistakes on that album, like, I think, on “7th Chamber” you hear the tape machine still winding up. It was so dirty,straight out of — literally — out of somebody’s basement. The best music comes when you can keep that spontaneity. Whenever producers ask me for advice, I tell them if you spend more than 20 minutes on a beat and your head’s not nodding yet, it’s not worth it.Like Jay-Z’s “P.S.A.,” I made that beat in five minutes, in my headphones while we were mixing another record. I made “You Don’t Know” in less than 15 minutes, and “Roc the Mic” in less than five. And with a lot of my stuff, like Erick Sermon’s “React,” the version we released was my two-track rough mix with Erick’s vocals from a karaoke machine. I wind up preferring that first rough mix for a lot of my records, and I’m trying to keep it raw like that on this album whenever I can.
Saigon: That rawness and freshness, that’s what we want to re-create.Saigon, if this were your interview, what would you ask Just?
Saigon:How is it possible you never drank alcohol before? [Laughs.] Don’t you get curious what it feels like to get drunk,when you’re in the club and see everybody having a good-ass time? Just Blaze: Well, my experience is a little unique,because usually when you’re 14 or 15 there’s a lot of peer pressure to get drunk and prove something to each other. But at that age I was already deejaying at 21-and-over night clubs,where everybody around me was past that stage of saying, “Yo, you should drink. We have to get drunk.” And they[..]umed I was, too.I never made a conscious decision not to drink.It just never happened.And since then I’ve seen so many situations where people get out of control;I don’t need that. The last thing I need is some Bruce Banner thing where all the rage comes out and I start wilding out, or I wake up in bed next to the lunch lady from the high school cafeteria.Plus, I find people have a certain respect for you when they see you make that choice.
Saigon: Yeah, you have to respect that discipline and willpower.So does he have you convinced? Are you ready to stop drinking too?Saigon: Hell, naw! I need to drink sometimes or I’ll go crazy. I don’t drink a lot, but I could never have fun in a social environment without alcohol.
Just Blaze: Man, you talk a lot when you drink, though! Like crazy, I’ll be trying to DJ in the club, and he’s just straight “babababababa” for like an hour.
Saigon: I have a lot trapped in! If I don’t drink, I can’t let it out. I’ll just be standing there looking at people and not talking to anybody.Just Blaze: It’s cool, though, because they say the truth comes out when you drink, so it lets me know he has a genuine love for what we’re doing.Just, if this were your interview, what would you ask Saigon?
Just Blaze: Okay, this is something we were just talking about in the studio. Almost every rapper now, their story is some variation of this: Came from the street, did some dirt, may or may not have done some time,realized that rap was better or at least an easier hustle, and switched to that.What differentiates you from that pack?Saigon: What differentiates me is these rappers make it sound like that life is cool,and keep talking about how “real” it is. But for me, what’s really real is how I lost all my childhood because of one mistake with a gun. I lost damn near seven years of my life from that bull!! they rap about, so I’m here to tell kids there’s nothing cool about that gangsta life they glorify.All these people glorifying it, these kids rapping, they’re in the studio all day and at the industry parties all night. If they were really out there in the streets every day, risking their lives and risking their freedom, they would know it’s nothing to glorify.
Just Blaze: And out of all the real hustlers I knew personally,even the legendary dudes who hustled uptown, the only ones who made it out were the ones who stayed quiet about it. All the dudes who had to get flashy and let the world know what they were doing...Saigon: They always get taken down in the end.Exactly. So you know these rappers are not serious. My grandmother always told me the dogs that bark really don’t bite. It’s the one lying in the cut that you have to worry about — the quiet one who’s observing, analyzing and scheming. It’s the same way in prison. You hear about these infamous criminals like Tut, who they claimed got Tupac shot, and you would think these dudes are gorillas. But when you actually see Tut, he’s got spectacles on, he’s all clean,walking around with a briefcase.Just Blaze: They have briefcases and glasses in jail? I thought glasses could be used as a weapon. Like I know you can’t have CDs in jail, right?Saigon: Nah, you can’t have CDs. You can only have tapes, even though you can use a cassette as a weapon, too. You can use everything as a weapon, really. They let you have canned sodas in there... you can break all that stuff down to make a weapon.
Just Blaze: Oh, you can get cans in there? They buggin!Saigon: The thing is, they want weapons in the jail. They need !! to happen every so often so they can flex their muscles and show who’s in charge.Just Blaze: And if a few of you k!ll each other off, that’s just more room for the next prisoners. It just keeps that flow going.Most “conscious” artists are fenced off by the industry in a corner where they can only reach the proverbial backpackers. Are you guys hoping your place in the game lets you reach beyond that with your message?
Just Blaze: Exactly. I realized a while ago that I’m in a unique position, because I’m one of the few people on the mainstream side that also gets a backpacker pass. I realized I needed to use that. If you could take the sensibilities of the backpacker side, which can be slightly more thoughtful and creative, and combine that with mainstream accessibility, you could merge them into something greater and break down those barriers. We want to make music that is saying something and still reach the street. We want to take things back to the time when one kid could be blasting “Straight Outta Compton” while his man was on the corner blasting “Rebel Without a Pause,” and it didn’t look crazy. If you try to make a mainstream record like “Fight the Power” now, people think you’re crazy. There hasn’t been a place for that in the mainstream since then. But right now with what Kanye’s doing, Common getting hot again and Styles P talking about being black and proud, there are signs that people want something different. At least I hope that will happen, because I can not listen to any more crack raps.Saigon: That’s been my purpose since day one. Of course we’re gonna sell records, we’re in the business of selling records. But I want to be remembered for more than that. Thirty years from now, when we look back on who did what in hip-hop, we’re gonna see that 50 Cent made a song about “Candyshop, come lick my lollipop.” Meanwhile we were trying to open doors in people’s minds and better the conditions for our people in the hood.
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|11-28-2005, 05:37 AM||away - #2|
saigon seems on point all the way thru the interview
i guess the next one will be a 180 degree turn and he'll be talking about shanking people and how hood he is again, just like he always does (see smack dvd etc)
its a shame he's so contradictary. he speaks like he's got his mind right 75% of the time.
|11-28-2005, 05:57 AM||away - #3|
dude when you from the street you want to do good but its easier said than done, the man lived street his whole life and got his head right, how he gonna make the full change in that short space
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