Saigon Interview

– How does it feel to be in Amsterdam?
It feels great to be in Amsterdam. I never thought I’d make it to Amsterdam in a million years. Cause where I come from, we don’t make it off our block haha. So it feels great.

– The album, “The Greatest Story never told”, it was a long wait on the sample clearance.
Yeah man, 6 months. There’s this group called J. Giles band, a lot of these old 70’s bands they don’t really get with hiphop that much, especially after the Don Imus thing, it was the cool thing to come down on hiphop. “I’m not gonna sample that, look what he’s talking about.” And we went back and forth, I had to call some big heavy guns to go and talk to Peter Wolf, this big manager. They don’t need the money, they’re already rich. And at the last minute they were like “Ok you can use the record.”

– What was up with that “beef” with Just Blaze about the sample clearance?
It wasn’t really beef. I said something about Atlantic, and Just, the thing with Just and me is, we were waiting for 3 years to bring this album out, and Just is like, why till wait now, to start beefing with the label. They’re finally focused, finally ready to work with us. Why wait till now to start something. It was a misunderstanding. Me and Just Blaze argue all the time. Me and Just Blaze are good, that’s my brother, he is more than just my producer.

– You said that your album will be the 2007 version of “Illmatic”. That’s a big comparison.
Not really. It’s big for what Nas did. The only reason I use “Illmatic” is cause that’s my favorite album. Like when I sit down and listen to “Illmatic” and listen to “The Greatest Story Never Told”, I get more from my album. I mean, you would never change what he did for the timing, he evolutionized rap, he evolutionized and changed it. So I probably won’t have the impact like he has, as far as that, but I feel like social commentary and something that you can take back from it and say “Damn I learned this from that.” I feel like there is more of that in my album then in “Illmatic”. And beat wise it’s no comparison cause Just Blaze came correct you know. Just Blaze did the damn thing!

– But like you said, Nas did so much for hiphop in that era. We are in a different era right now. What do you think that your album will contribute to hiphop?
I think it’s gonna do a lot man. I am in Amsterdam off of mixtapes. I have been all over the world off of mixtapes. So imagine what I’m holding. See what I’m sayin’?

– Not necessarily, mixtapes are different than an album.
Not my mixtapes. I don’t use other people’s beats. I don’t rap over the popular beats. All my music is original music. When you see me perform tonight, you will see me perform 45 minutes of original music. You will see what I am talking about. I am in a stage right now where I feel like hiphop needs to go into a different direction as far as social commentary like. It’s black music. People forget its black music cause it gets so spread out and it’s so big now, but it’s black music. And the black community, when we had a hold on it, it was a cry for help. You know in the slavery days, before the slaves knew how to read and write, we used to use drums to communicate. *tap tap* “It’s 8 o’clock” *tap tap* “We needa get the fuck outta here”. You know, we didn’t know how to read and write letters. They thinking “Them niggas out there playing the drums”, but we are talking to each other. And that’s what hiphop was at one point.

– You wanna take hiphop back.
Yeah. If you listen to “The Message”, Mellie Mel, “Broken glass, everywhere…” He was talking about the fucked up conditions in the South Bronx where hiphop started. He wasn’t talking about “my fuckin ice” and “look at my Mercedes” and “I drank three bottles of champagne”.

– Which brings me to my next question. How do you feel about hiphop nowadays? We just talked about the sample clearance and how Don Imus made it harder, and how the media is portraying hiphop nowadays. You just explained how you are trying to bring back how it started.
Yeah. Hiphop is powerful man. If you can touch this many people all across the world, you know you have a strong force. Hiphop is just as strong as Christianity. There are people in fuckin’ Alaska and the Northpole who are rockin’ to some hiphop shit. So if you got something this powerful, you gotta use it for the better and the best you can, or it will go away. If you don’t exploit it in a good way, and you just exploit it for all negative purposes, it’s gonna blow up in your face. And it will become a detrimental force that will blow up and destroy everybody. And I really believe that cause it’s doing that in our community.

– I was about to say, it’s doing that already.
Yeah it’s doing that already. And somebody gotta change it the other way. I see little girls singing “My back, my neck, lick my pussy and my crack.” An 8 year old girl. What the… They don’t even know what the fuck they singing. “I was getting’ some head, gettin’ gettin’ some head.” And I’m like “Wow.” Look at what they putting in the airwaves. That urban –urban meaning black and latino- urban radio. Black and brown people. Me and you. White people radio ain’t playing that. Cause someone’s mother is gonna call up and be like “Hey, what the fuck are y’all playing on the radio? My kids can hear this.” And that’s the difference.

– Back to your album, besides you trying to bring that back, with the messages and the lyrics, the beats of course. What else can you tell us?
Just Blaze! Haha, nah I’m just kiddin’. I’m proud of it man. When I listen to it, I feel like I made a work of art that will be remembered for years and years to come. I feel like I don’t even have to make another album after this. That’s how I feel. I might have to, contractual haha. But I feel like I said a whole lot on my album and I covered so many bases. I feel like people are gonna hear it and be like “It’s just what I was thinking but never had the opportunity to say.”

– I think you should do more albums cause there is more “trash” coming out and you wanna keep the message alive right?
Right, at the same time I’m like, that’s just me talking the talk at the same time I gotta walk the walk. I got a non-profit organization, Abandon Nation foundation, we take care of kids. We started with 8 kids and now we got 75 kids, whose parents are incarcerated. But they come to us, we teach them man trainings. Teach these young boys how to be men. We teach them how to respect women. When they see women they don’t say “Hey ma, what’s up ma!”, they say “How you doin’ sister? Can I help you with anything?” These young girls they don’t even understand it, cause they are so used to “Yo ma you got a fat ass! Oh shit look at her ass.” So when they come to these women, the respect with “Hey how you doin’ sister, can I help you? Is there anything you need?” it makes them stand out and they like that. Its man training, we teach them how to stand up. I bet ya I can do man training with two dudes in the room right now and they probably couldn’t do it. You can pick any two dudes in the room right now and I can do some exercises with them and they probably couldn’t do it.

– Is there anything else you wanna say to the fans out here?
Blueeee Mooooon…haha! Nah I just wanna say, Amsterdam, thank you for embracing me, thank you for having me out here, I appreciate it a million gazillion percent. And hopefully I will come back and hopefully when I come back, all this shit I’m talking, I can back it up.