saigonbootlegs.jpgMore often than not, spotlight-seeking rappers shy away from spitting substantial rhymes. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Saigon. Fresh off his recurring role on HBO’s hit series Entourage, Sai-Giddy continues to build anticipation for his oft-delayed debut by teaming with Clinton Sparks and Kay Slay for the food for thought–filled mixtape The Return of Tha Yardfather.

Combining Chuck D’s militancy and Pac’s ghetto charm with 50 Cent’s overt thuggery, Saigon stands as hip-hop’s most well-rounded newcomer. On the remorseful “Desperado,” Sai details his struggles trying to reintegrate into society after a prison bid, over a piano-laden Scram Jones loop, while the inspirational “Nobody Cares”—a collaborative effort with dead prez’s—is both catchy and revolutionary. Later, the 9th Wonder–produced “Dreams” finds Sai dedicating his bars to all the incarcerated scarfaces, rapping, “Please listen to my words/Know your life is not something you want to throw away.”

The Yardfather takes his lyricism even higher on “Change the Game (Remix),” delivering, “It’s not a promising fate to be part of a race/You know, that they say die at an astonishing rate.” The intelligent hoodlum continues to edutain with “Saigon Sings the Blues,” an off-key tune reminiscent of Big’s “Playa Hater,” where S-to-the-A vows to “help the Black community.” The tape’s only fault comes on the appropriately titled “Rap Bullshit,” where Saigon suddenly finds himself forgetting his mission to inform the masses and thinking with the wrong head.

It’s unfortunate that hip-hop fans have come to expect less from their beloved artists. Songs like “Fight the Power” have long been replaced with contrived dance numbers and get-money anthems. Saigon’s willingness to consistently address inner-city dilemmas makes The Return of Tha Yardfather a worthy investment. Now, if he could just drop that damn album already.



Read the rest of XXL’s Critical Beatdown review section in the XXL’s March 2007 issue (#89)