Though he has ten mixtapes under his belt already, Brooklyn emcee Saigon had only released one full-length official album…until now. The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses marks Sai-giddy’s second LP since he began recording music after he was released from prison in 2000.
Thanks to far fewer label politics involved in Chapter 2’s release, the wait time was shorter and the quality remains consistent with what Saigon’s fans have grown to expect from him. Just Blaze holds executive producer status on the album with additional production from DJ Corbett and Shuko – though the beats on the album are of secondary importance, as Saigon’s introspective raps demand the listener’s attention. There is a consistency and sense of continuation from Greatest Story’s first installment, as Saigon gives a glimpse into his maturity as a man and a father while sharing lessons learned from street life and pointing out society’s insufficiencies.
Though he touches on some family dynamics (his daughter Rayne is actually the voice behind an interlude of sorts on the album) and waxes poetic about love (or in his case, the weird middle ground he dubs “relafriendships”), Saigon seems to sound most comfortable when he’s pointing out the music industry’s shortcomings or telling stories of life on the block. The standout “Rap Vs. Real” examines the smoke and mirrors of modern day Rap, as Saigon points out, “there’s a very big difference between Rap and what’s real/ when those worlds collide that’s when rappers get killed/ trappers they go to jail, die without leaving a will/ there’s a very big difference between Rap and what’s real.” “Yeah Yeah” conjures up flashbacks of a far more aggressive and volatile Saigon of mixtapes from years ago, with a head-nodder of a beat and a more rapidly paced flow, complete with threats to get someone admitted to a hospital bed or to show them what being held at knifepoint feels like. On it’s own the track is great, though in the grander scheme of the content on Bread and Circuses, the threatening bars seem contradictory to the heartfelt and optimistic tone of much of the rest of the album.
Growth – both as a musician free of stifling label ties and as a man with a gritty past – is certainly the prevalent theme on The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses. Though the raps may not be as street-centric as they used to be, Saigon’s bars are no less real. In true Sai-giddy fashion, he leaves his audience with some of his own lessons that he has learned in life. Rather than sounding preachy, he succeeds in leaving the impression that he simply wants other people to listen, understand, and take notes in hopes that children like his daughter won’t have to grow up in such a volatile environment (word to “Crazy World”). “Stocking Cap” Sai may be no more, but Saigon proves that he still hasn’t lost his touch on the mic.