Critics all over the blogosphere have been praising Brian Carenard, who performs under the rap name Saigon. The man has released around eleventy billion mixtapes, all of which are allegedly the best shit since sliced bread, and has had a debut album, The Greatest Story Never Told (executive-produced by Just Blaze) set for a supposed release of February 31 of whatever year it currently is. That is to say, his album will probably never ever ever come out, and Saigon himself probably knows this.
I've been slacking off on following the man's career, mainly because there are too many rappers to follow in the game and I've made my choices with no regrets. I've caught the man's act on Entourage, though, when he played a rapper (coincidentally named Saigon) who was sort-of discovered by Turtle, who managed him for approximately three episodes or something, until he was abandoned for the services of someone who was an actual manager. I've also caught a few guest appearances on compilation albums, and he released a single from this mythical album that also featured Jay-Z which I don't remember, but I know I've listened to it at some point.
So when I first heard that Saigon and mixtape deejay extraordinaire-slash-producer Statik Selektah locked themselves in a studio for twenty-four hours and recorded an entire album's worth of material, I didn't immediately believe it to be a positive thing. Who records an entire album in one sitting? A mixtape, maybe, but a cohesive album?
The two men named the album All In A Day's Work and released it through Amalgam Digital in March of this year. Upon its release, bloggers quickly took notice and proclaimed it to be the tits, but then immediately began to ignore it. Such may be the disposable nature of today's hip hop (everybody seemed to completely forget about Asher Roth's debut, too, save for MTV, where he was recently up for an award for Best New Artist), but I couldn't shake the nagging notion that perhaps the album wasn't much to begin with.
All In A Day's Work may have been a noble experiment (one which was somewhat successful for Saigon and Statik, as a sequel is supposedly planned for later this year), but the act of recording an entire album in one day may have been more if a publicity stunt than an actual creative effort. Let's see what the big deal is.
1. TO BE TOLD
I wasn't impressed with Saigon's threat to “e-thugs” that he will “'CTRL-ALT-DEL' you dead”, but for a rap album intro, the fact that the man actually spits a couple of verses gives the man a pass. Statik's beat is relatively simple, and the soulful vocal sample is kind of annoying, but this still wasn't all that bad.
2. SO CRUEL
Statik's reliance on sampled vocals doubling as the hook is frustrating, but I liked Saigon's vocals, especially when he warns that he will give you nothing but “fuck-you's and bad criticisms”. That shit is funny to me. Saigon actually isn't cruel enough on here, in my opinion.
3. THE RULES
This fucking knocks. You can almost imagine Saigon's fictional manager Turtle nodding his head in the studio. However, I take a few points off because I swear Statik swiped a one-word sample from a Soulja Boy song, and that is something I cannot condone.
4. MY CREW
I didn't care for this one.
5. PREPARE FOR WAR
Referring to Elvis Presley as “Michael [Jackson]'s old father-in-law” is pretty fucking inspired. However, Statik's beat isn't aggressive to warrant anybody preparing for way, and although Saigon's lyrics are pretty good, his delivery suffers.
I hated this song's beat. Saigon manages to sound pretty goddamn entertaining, but Statik's pan flutes and strings didn't do anything for me. Moving on...
7. LADY SINGS THE BLUES
Not every hip hop song needs to have sampled vocals on the hook. Statik Selektah apparently missed that memo. The Chris Brown domestic abuse reference at the end only shows you just how recently this shit was recorded.
8. LOSE HER
Okay, seriously, Saigon needs to get some instrumentals that consist primarily of hard drums and some sense of melody, because this sampled vocal shit is getting ridiculous.
I really liked this short song, even though it falls into the same production pothole as everything else on All In A Day's Work. I appreciate how Saigon is able to express both disbelief and exasperation in regard to the events of the track.
10. THE REASON
11. I WARNED YOU
For the finale, Statik supplies a beat that sounds like hands clapping at a concert by a Kraftwerk tribute band, but still falls back on his vocal sample crutch, thus hindering Saigon's progress.
THE LAST WORD: For All In A Day's Work, Saigon provides your typical hip hop bombast that one grows accustomed to after listening to the genre for forty seconds, but he also deviates a handful of times to expand his horizons, providing newer listeners with a valid reason why most bloggers have been waiting for Saigon's major label debut to drop (although it never will). Teaming up with one of the most popular mixtape deejays would normally be considered a smart move, and had Statik Selektah given Saigon any one of these eleven instrumentals for his actual album, the songs would have been better received. However, Statik was apparently in a certain mindset the day this project was completed, one which involved R&B vocals sampled throughout, and when you hear that shit for the duration of an entire album, no amount of lyricism can overcome that obstacle. A lot of All In A Day's Work sounds the same, which ultimately means that hip hop heads can walk right past this album with little to no guilt. Maybe next time Saigon should speak up about the instrumentals. Oh well. Be sure to leave your comments below, and also let me know if there are any specific Saigon mixtapes that you would recommend to newbies.