Thursday, October 15, 2009
Warning Shots 2
When Saigon first started to make some noise in hip hop, I was definitely feeling his music right away. His philosophy went something like this from my perspective - he's been there and done that as far as the streets, crime, violence, and prison go, he's grown up now and wants to do something with hip hop to better his community instead of bringing it further down like he's sees so many others do. Grown up hip hop for all ages.
Having that as your goal, plus being affiliated with one of the most well-known producers of the last few years, AND possessing the mic skills to make people pay attention made me think that Saigon was sure to see some kind of success. Unfortunately, things didn't happen that way. His major label album produced by Just Blaze has seen countless release dates come and go over many years, he himself left the music biz (or claimed to) and came back, he got murdered on wax by Joe Budden in a beef that he started alone, and the list could probably go on. But, everything else aside, most of the music he did release was full of gems (with both good lyrics and a positive spin), and forced people to at least stay somewhat interested in his career if, and when it ever got started.
However, on his new 'street album' Warning Shots 2, Saigon seems all too eager to take part in the massive hypocrisy that makes up a pretty fair portion of hip hop music. And, he's willing to do it with an album full of, well, filler material. The misdirection and all out hypocrisy I'm talking about comes from Saigon's confused mind offering hope to the youth in one song, and then basically telling them he was just kidding in the next.
The release begins with three decent tracks that, while coming off kinda corny at times with the light and poppy sound of the beats, R&B vocals, and sometimes sappy lyrics are at least purposeful. He shows women respect, encouraging them to do something better with themselves than stripping at a club, and pleads with men to stop treating women like whores - "We're making it rain on our little sisters, on our nieces, on our babies ya'll. Let's get it together." He then goes into a song called "Fatherhood (Rayne Dior)" dedicated to his daughter and being a good father, protecting his little girl from the evils in the world.
I thought this was preparing the listener for the overall direction of the album, but no. After three positive, if not self-serving, pat-myself-on-the-back songs (see the outro to "That's Not What's Up" to see what I mean), Saigon delves into the exact frame of mind that he was just chastising a second ago and keeps it up for pretty much the length of the album. After getting the positivity and intelligence out of the way in the beginning, he proceeds to degrade women through numerous 'bitch, hoe, slut, suck my dick' type of lyrics (even talking about pissing on them at one point) on shitty songs and brag about how hard he is on others. Hearing all of this material in direct contradiction to what he claimed (or at least, used to claim) was his main purpose in hip hop makes me wonder, "how grown up is this guy, really?" Because to me, on this album, he just sounds like another dumb, immature kid trying to prove himself to the guys by showing off his ignorance. AND, most of the songs are weak lyrically.
"Rusty Gunz" produced by the always reliable Oddisee is definitely a solid record -if you are okay with the term "Featuring Lil' Fame" meaning a few words on a hook that could've just as easily been an M.O.P sample. 13 songs in, Just Blaze finally comes in with a track for his artist, "Who Can Get Busy" which is decent (1 of only 2 that Blaze produces), but nothing spectacular. Plus, you'd have to be okay with "Featuring Grand Puba" meaning contributing nothing but a weak reggae-influenced hook and some pointless blather at the end. Not to worry though; there are several guest verses on Warning Shots 2 if that's what you're looking for. They are from much less talented people, but hey, who needs a living legend to spit a verse when you have OJ Da Juiceman holding down a song about pussy with you?
At this point, I think it's safe to say that I think of The Greatest Story Never Told in the same way I think about Detox - I don't really care if it ever comes out or not. Saigon has gone from a capable and promising lyricist to a blatant hypocrite with only sporadic flashes of the talent he once demonstrated in his bars. Actually, it's not just hypocrisy. It's not just inconsistency. It's stupid. Saigon comes off sounding stupid on most of this album. Stupid and directionless. And, that's not gonna cut it for an MC that claims top 5 (yeah, you read that right), and thinks he can change hip hop for the better. It's not nearly enough. Don't get me wrong. I'm not writing him off completely based off of this one album (and a few past tracks), but Warning Shots 2 is a disappointment in so many ways that it has me questioning whether he has the ability to release a quality, official/studio/whatever album that is at all focused.
Bottom line, I don't know what the hell Saigon was thinking on this album, but I really hope he steps it up in every way for whatever he drops next.