Warning Shots 2

Beats: M
Lyrics: L
Originality: M

For years, New York rapper Saigon has dangled his oft-delayed debut, The Greatest Story Never Told, in the faces of hungry fans. While label drama has prevented its release, Sai-Giddy has managed to keep his name ringing thanks to street releases like 2004’s critically acclaimed Warning Shots. So with his official debut album still on the back burner, Sai offers the second-best thing, Warning Shots 2.

Like the original, WS2 has standouts that showcase Saigon’s penchant for witty storytelling with a message. Tracks like the Scram Jones–produced “That’s Not What’s Up,” “Fatherhood,” Sai’s heartfelt dedication to his newborn girl, and “Rusty Gunz,” featuring Lil’ Fame, follow this blueprint. But over Just Blaze’s melodic instrumental on the inspiring “Gotta Believe It,” Sai admits, “I ain’t made a dollar trying to rap for the cause.”

Sadly, his attempts at dumbing it down (“Cookies & Milk” and “For Some Pussy Part 2,” featuring OJ Da Juiceman) are laughable, and the poor beat choices (thanks to European beatsmith Tommy Tee) on “Be On Time” and “Copping Pleas” make for a lackluster listen. With Saigon’s greatest story still untold, a blockbuster follow-up would’ve been just the thing to hold heads over. But as far as sequels go, Warning Shots 2 just isn’t of the same caliber as its predecessor. —SEAN A. MALCOLM