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The mystique of The Greatest Story Never Told is almost as rich as that of Detox; that being a highly-anticipated album with a super-producer attached to it, only to be delayed indefinitely. In the case of Saigon’s debut, it almost seemed like this album wouldn’t come out at all, as he recorded it for Atlantic in 2006, but saw numerous delays as time went on. Reaching the boiling point, Saigon aired out both his label – and to some extent Just Blaze – suggesting the album would live up to it’s title, and *never* be released.

The product of wall-to-wall Just Blaze production and rhymes from one of the finest street emcees around, the project was shrouded in mystery, placing it next to other legendary, unreleased albums, such as King Tee’s Thy Kingdom Come or the aforementioned Detox. Until recently, Saigon was released from his contract via Atlantic, taking the rights to The Greatest Story Never Told, to be released as a joint effort between Just Blaze’s Fort Knox Entertainment and Surburban Noize Records.

The casual listener (meaning the type that says things like “Track 6 is hot!”) won’t realize the brilliance behind Saigon and Just’s magnum opus, as this is a plate to be digested in full. Just like a 2-hour movie that you wouldn’t watch only 23 minutes of, The Greatest Story Never Told has a concurrent theme that runs through it, subtly sewn together, track by track.

The album begins with the tongue in cheek look at the penitentiary system, comparing it to the club-scene, as Q-Tip reprises his role from “Jazz (We Got The)”, shouting out the nation’s prisons one by one, finally landing on “The Abaaaaandon Naaation”. Yes, this was the name of some earlier Saigon mixtapes, but what it actually refers to is the generation of wives and children that are left behind when their husbands/fathers are sent put in jail, as Saigon explains in his verses. But Saigon takes a break from the heavy-handed subject matter to re-introduce himself on the bluesy-bouncy “Dontcha Baby”, propelled by a trademark Swizz Beatz hook and in-tact bonus verse from Jay-Z himself. As one of the early Atlantic singles that was previously releases, it’s still as banging as it was five years ago.

The track sequence itself is what makes The Greatest Story Never Told such a unique piece of work, as each track transcends into the next. For instance, the two-part “Enemies” and “Friends” are back-to-back, as Saigon explores the two-faced nature of those in his inner circle, leading directly into the album’s title track, which touches upon many of the other topics addressed throughout the LP. He takes ‘em to church on “Clap”, then lambastes the collection plate on the brilliantly penned (and produced) “Preacher”. Even the use of autotune on “Believe It” is excusable here, plainly due to how dope they brought it in from it’s preceding track “It’s Alright”. On the former, he delivers a verse that could be summed up as the greatest of his career, defining both his character and the LP itself. “The rap figures throwin’ money in the air, like it’s pizza dough / people in the hood ain’t eatin’ though / I tried to help the label see the vision / but they lowered me to a sub-division / you gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ / they’d rather me pretend to be something I’m not / I’m the new Public Enemy / I’m different than Yung Joc / And nah, I ain’t dissin’, this nigga’s up in the Forbes / shit I ain’t made a dollar trying to rap for the cause.”

While a bit lengthy, The Greatest Story Never Told is a platform for Saigon to get just about everything off his chest, over the gorgeous production of Just Blaze. He covers a wide variety of topics here, including class, race, the law, prison, the industry, politics, and more. He spits every line with passion on this meticulously produced concept LP, truly living up to what it’s title suggests. Thankfully, nothing could stop him from telling the world his tale.

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7 Responses to "Saigon – “The Greatest Story Never Told” – @@@@1/2"
  • Skins says:

    The album is amazing. Saigon said either shortly before the album came out or shortly after that he was proud of himself, but that the album is ultimately Just Blaze’s coming out party as one of the best producers out, and he’s right. We’ve all seen what Just can do track to track, but short of Freeway’s first album, I can’t think of any other album he made the vast majority of the beats for, and unlike Philadelphia Freeway, he had the Exec Producer job on this as well, and taught the game a fuckin lesson. In this iTunes era of LPs sounding like soundtracks/compilations, having a fluid album like this is amazing. Always thought extremely highly of the dude as a beatmaker, but Just Blaze has earned himself a spot in the best overall producer out now discussion with the work on this.

    As for Sai-giddy, he shines all over the record. I have been a Saigon fan for many, many years now, but I wondered if his style may get tired or repetitive outside of the mixtape medium. It didn’t. Lyrically and thematically he’s shockingly excellent also, which more pleases me than it does surprise me, but still, I wouldn’t be totally honest if I said I completely expected it.

    One of Sai’s major drawbacks, as I’ve discovered while trying to push this album on friends, is that his camp actually thought it was a good idea to play himself on ‘Entourage’. To a man, anyone that wasn’t into him prior to ‘Entourage’ is instantly dismissive in “this guy decided to rap under the name of his character on a TV show? Lame.” You can try to explain the reality to and reason with these people, but that’s a hard hurdle to get over. But, at least half-assed raps and shitty production aren’t the problem. Skill has a way of winning in the end.

    Great review, Pizzo.

  • Mr. Williams says:

    I’m with Skins on this one. I had been hearing about this album’s status in limbo for the longest, but when it finally came out, I had no plans to buy it, let alone listen to it. I knew about the Entourage appearances and heard him featured on a couple of tracks, but wasn’t nearly impressed enough to go out and get it.

    But when HHS gave it a 4.5, I decided to give it a try. And I was definitely not disappointed. I was greatly surprised not only on the positive message spun throughout the album, but also on the consistency and the cohesiveness. This is definitely one of the best albums of the year (or ’06, whatever).

    BTW, I cop nearly anything you guys give a 4.5 to, and I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed. In my opinion, I think it’s kind of ironic that your 4.5 ratings get more love than your 5s.

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