I’m doing wonderful, man. I’m doing good.
What exactly happened between you and Mobb Deep last week?
I don’t know, man. I really, really, really can’t call it. One thing I know is that somebody tried to grab me from behind and somebody was trying to back me down. I know they were 25 or 30 deep in there, but I was like, ‘If it’s on and popping, it’s on and popping. We’re going to get down.’ I saw Prodigy and I made him pay for telling me to suck his dick and for saying, “Fuck Jesus and fuck God.” Jesus asked me to handle his business.
Yo, this has to be the most disrespectful guy in the history of the world. He doesn’t have any respect for anybody in the world and that shit is unfortunate and it’s bad because a lot of bad things are going to continue to happen to you when you say things that he says. Whether you believe in God or not, you don’t continue to disrespect something that a lot of people have faith in.
The thing about this is that I’m not a bully. Those dudes were deep. I wasn’t supposed to get out of there. They were supposed to kill me up there. There were 30 of them and three people with me. If I can get away without anybody touching me, I am and I did. And one thing I’m not going to do is go and edit a video and make it seem like I did something to these dudes when I really didn’t. I would just say, “These dudes came up in my party and one of them punched me in the face and none of us touched him. I have problems on my team and I need some new goons, man.” That’s what Prodigy should say. I had problems with Prodigy. All of them other niggas were fronting like wanted to get it on. I don’t even know them and they don’t have any real problems with me. They want to ride for Prodigy but he’s not a rider. He’s not going to ride for them and he’s not going to bleed for them. You’re hanging out with him for what? So he can get you into the club and you can go to the club with him? I don’t know none of these niggas that are talking dirty on camera. That man told me to suck his dick. I don’t respect him. He doesn’t have any respect for anybody.
You knew Prodigy had problems with you. Were you looking for trouble that night?
No, I didn’t go in there looking for trouble. I didn’t go in there looking for trouble at all, man. I knew the potential for trouble was there, but I was like, ‘Whatever, man. I’m going to play it by ear. In the worst case scenario, we get it on.’ Luckily I was able to get out of there unharmed because I wasn’t supposed to get out of there. Especially after what I did, I didn’t think I was going to get out of there. They act like they chased me but I decided it was time to go and we left. People were throwing bottles and being unruly so we decided to take off. They didn’t decide to chase me until after I decided to leave. Please post the real video. A lot of these websites show their fake version.
At any time did you feel like your life was in danger?
Nah, I didn’t feel like that. I thought it was all love. Havoc kind of rocked me to sleep. He let me think it was all peaceful. I know I’ve never had a problem with Havoc. I had a problem with Prodigy and I knew he was there, but if niggas act like there isn’t a problem, I’m not going to act like there’s a problem. I’m not going to be the one forcing the issue. But if you notice, the first thing I did when dude grabbed me was I put my back against the wall. They weren’t going to get me from behind. If they were going to get me, I was going to see it coming.
They got a fake edited video and they’re putting up flyers around the city like they chased me out of there. What the fuck am I going to wait around for? If I’m in a shootout and I shoot somebody, I’m not going to wait around to get shot. I got my shots off. I’m not going to wait around after I finish shooting.
You said Havoc rocked you to sleep. Do you feel Havoc set you up?
It’s either that or he can’t control the people he’s with. One second you’re telling me that there’s no problems and it’s all love. Then that’s what it’s supposed to be. If I tell you that it’s all love, then nobody in my crew is going to do anything to you. They have to respect that. Either he don’t have any control over his goons or he was rocking me to sleep like it was all love. Prince, the dude with the camouflage shirt, is Havoc’s cousin and I know him. I used to rock with him. I was thinking that everything was going to be smooth ‘cause he was there.
How is the video that’s been circulating different from the real encounter?
There’s a real encounter of the video. It wasn’t me, but somebody put up a video up of what really happened. There’s some clown dude E Boogs who made a video saying the Mobb is like the mafia. The shit is so corny. I feel so embarrassed that I even have to do what I’m doing to entertain these dudes because they keep on pressing the issue. They were the first ones to put out the video. I didn’t put out any video because I didn’t have a camera with me. There is a video saying “Saigon’s Version.” I never made a version of anything. I had a couple dudes onstage with me. Their video says “Havoc’s album is in stores” and then they start lying. They’re putting up flyers in the ‘hood about some beef shit. Why don’t they just go to the hip-hop police station and say, “Hey, we’re beefing with Saigon. Pay attention”?
What’s your next move in this situation?
You know what? I wasn’t even thinking about it. I had been over it. That’s why I went in the club like that. I wasn’t scared of anything. I went in there knowing that we had a history but I wasn’t actively pursuing it like it was beef. These dudes came at me with the bullshit. They came at me. I was like, ‘Okay, now that the beef is back brewing, I’m going to get you back for telling me to suck your dick.’ And people are saying that I sucker-punched him. He was walking directly towards me looking me dead in my face when I punched him. How is that a sucker-punch? A sucker-punch is when the other person can’t see it coming. If your people just attacked me and you’re walking towards me, you’re supposed to be ready to pop off. You’re supposed to be ready for combat. I sucker-punched him? He was looking me dead in the face. And I was hiding under a table and all this bullshit about how they got a watch that I’ve never seen before…What kind of real dude would sit down and try to doctor a video to tell a story about something that didn’t happen at all?
To make it clear, you weren’t hiding under a table?
Come on. Hell No, I wasn’t hiding under no damn table. That’s corny. I didn’t have no watch on. They’re talking about me hiding under the tables. The only thing I did was I got behind my homie. That’s what he does. He’s there to make sure that nothing happens to me. He’s there to make sure we get in and we get out smoothly. That’s what he gets paid for.
That was nothing. The only thing I didn’t respect was the corny, fake video editing. To me, that’s clownery, man. That makes me put up stupid-ass blogs and stupid-ass pictures of me punching him in the face. They forced me to do that. They tried to assassinate my character like I’m some dude that you can just chase out of the club. That’s how they tried to present it to the world and that wasn’t the case at all. The case was that I showed more heart than anybody. I was outnumbered and I still punched their main nigga. More than likely, I was supposed to get stomped to death. If they were real, they would have went after the big man in front of me too. They were scared because the homie is big. That’s pussy to me. They should have gotten both of us. There was only three of us. These niggas were all standing back throwing bottles. Get out of here.
I knew once I said, “Shout out to Jay-Z” and everybody started booing, I knew it was a Mobb Deep thing. That’s when I was like, ‘Who’s booing?’ And the fake fat nigga who lied by saying he punched me in the face, he was booing until I looked at him and said, “Who’s booing?” and then he started cheering.
I don’t care what happens next. I’m not about no beef shit. That shit is so behind me. Especially with some hip-hop bullshit that’s about nothing. This shit can get ugly. At the same time, those niggas attacked me. I’m always going to defend myself, regardless. I’m a different breed of motherfucker, man. I don’t listen to what these little internet cowards be talking about. It’s one thing when you can talk about it on the internet like, ‘Why’d you run?’ What was my other option? To get stomped out? “Wait for them to get you.” That’s what they wanted me to do. If you equate it to a shootout, they wanted me to wait there and get shot. If you’re in a shootout and you hit what you’re supposed to hit, do you stand there or do you keep it moving? A real motherfucker and somebody that’s really from the street understands that I did the smartest thing that there is to do. Ain’t no real nigga going to tell you to stand there and wait. What am I sticking around for? How do you know one of those niggas isn’t running to go and get a pistol outside when I only have three people and no pistol? After I rocked P, they could have been running to their car to get their hammers. You’re not going to trap me in a club. Come on. Let’s get serious here.
And homie needs to learn some respect. Not for me, per se, but just period. You can’t go around disrespecting people and just expect nothing to happen to you. This dude said, “Fuck Jesus and fuck God.” He’s bugging out. He’s bugging, man. I’m not even a religious person and I won’t say that shit.
The show that night was a CNN show and that got canceled because of the fight. Have you spoken to N.O.R.E. since the episode?
No. I don’t know N.O.R.E. like that. I know him and Tru are cool.
Your new mixtape The Moral of the Story is dropping. What made you want to put it out now?
I just have so much music sitting around. And I felt it was time to go. I wanted to remind the people of what I do. I hear a lot of bullshit. The album is done and about to come out so while were crossing T’s and dotting I’s, I figured I’d put out a prequel to compete with the garbage that’s out. This shit is better than niggas’ real albums. Right now it’s just sit around time. There is a lot of good music and there is a lot of bullshit music out and I just thought I would remind people of what I’m going to bring to the table.
Sitting still is something you’ve never been good at.
Yeah. That’s goes back to when I was in prison and I was forced to just sit there. I’ve been waiting for people to hear my album and I want to hear the response from the people. I’m more interested in hearing the feedback. Of course in the music business everybody wants to sell records, but if I have to make that stupid-ass kind of music, then I’d rather not rap. I’d rather just find something else to do.
Fans have a short attention span today. Does that frustrate you at all?
It’s true, but that’s not just hip-hop. That’s America right now. I think America is almost done. Every empire is going to fall eventually. What goes up must come down and I think America, if you look at society today, it shows that America is in its final days as being a superpower. It shows when you go to war with Iraq and it takes this much out of you. I’m sure other countries see this and it makes America look not as powerful. And now all the corruptness and all the grimy shit they’re doing is going to come back to them. I just think that the mindstate of America right now is “now, now, now.” People are eating cloned chickens at KFC. There’s a lot of bullshit going on. Nobody wants to plant seeds and get the fruits of their labor. Everybody wants it now and that’s what’s going on in the music business with the record companies. A lot of artists don’t want to grow as artists. They just want to blow up and become a star overnight.
It’s only frustrating because I know there are enough people who want what I do and the label doesn’t get that. They try to market all the hip-hop music to children. And I don’t just mean Atlantic. Every record company tries to market to kids. They have to think. There are some people that don’t want to know all the words to a song after the first time hearing it.
When I was growing up, we would write down the words to a song just to memorize it. Not only did that help us build our brains and build our memory cells and all of that, but it helped our vocabulary and it helped our handwriting. Kids don’t even write anymore. They’re all on the computer. They don’t even know cursive anymore, these kids. The kids that are coming up in this new generation, they’re not as smart as the kids that came up in my generation because they have the information highway. They can type anything in Google and get everything. We used to have to look shit up in encyclopedias and look up everything and build up our minds.
It reflects in the music. The record companies are marketing the music to the children and look at what we talk about – killing, drug dealing, fucking, shooting and pimping. That’s all we ever tell our kids. I’m ashamed of hip-hop right now because back in the day, we controlled it a little bit more and we looked at what we gave our kids. We wouldn’t just make a song called “Lick My Pussy and My Crack” and give it to the kids. As an artist and as a black man, you couldn’t do that. You had to be responsible to the kids and as a person. You couldn’t do that as a black person. This is black music and we have a tendency to forget that.
Are the labels that push that music racist or are they just trying to make money?
I don’t think it’s blatant racism. It’s more like systematic racism. They have what they call “urban radio” which basically means black and Latino radio, but the bullshit music that you hear on urban radio only makes it to the top 40 radio if it’s a smash at urban radio. It has to come up through there. They give the poison to urban radio first. They automatically dump it on us. Music is powerful. People don’t realize the power of music, man. We have a tendency to lose that sometimes and get caught up in the money. I’ve been all over the world. I just came back from the U.K., London, Denmark, Switzerland and Amsterdam. I’ve been all over the place and I’ve seen the impact this music has on kids. I think hip-hop may be more influential than religion right now.
Does that make you even more cautious and aware of how you represent yourself and your people in the music?
Of course. Of course because I know that people are listening. And we’re all going to die one day and we’re all going to be remembered for how we lived. I would rather be remembered for changing somebody’s life or changing somebody’s fucked up way of thinking the way I changed my fucked up way of thinking instead of somebody saying, “Oh, he was rich.” We’re still getting the crumbs. If I sell 3 million records, I’m going to get the crumbs and to the average person it’s going to look like a lot. But compared to the money I generated for the company, I get the crumbs.
I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror if I did put poison out there, thinking about all the kids I encouraged to go pick up a gun or sell crack to tear down our communities. That’s the lifestyle I lived. I don’t like to keep saying it, but it’s on the internet. 96A0549. This ain’t a joke. I’m a number. I’m in the system. I got arrested the other day for a fucking knife and they gave me a felony because of my criminal history because I’m a predicate violent felon. I feel like if I don’t exploit my history with guns, somebody who never did it should be able to. That’s like me giving a kid a cigarette or being the old dude on the block that would give a kid alcohol. That’s not going to be me.
You say “Unification is not synonymous with black men” in “Wake Up.” Why is that?
Because this is a class thing more so than anything. First of all, we are still feeling the effects of the Indoctrination Period that we went through in slavery when we were taught to hate each other and to tear each other apart. We still live like that. We don’t understand the concept of unity. Black Americans are the only ones that don’t. If you look at the black community, we’re the only ones that don’t get ahead. You have Chinese restaurants and Arab stores but you don’t see any black-owned businesses. We don’t understand the concept of economizing and spending our money correctly. Look at the Asians, Jews and even the Mexicans now. The Mexicans have taken over a lot of places that were once black communities. They will come in and all live in one house and then buy another house and then buy another house and then split it up like that. There will be 20 of them in one house but they own the house. That’s economizing. Us, we’re different. If one of us got money and 20 of us are broke, we think that one person is different. It’s a class thing, man. We are so far from understanding that that it doesn’t even make sense. You would think that in 2007 we would be more…Look at hip-hop, man. This is black music and look at what it’s become. Everything that you own, if you don’t grab a hold of it, somebody else is going to come and take it. And if you don’t understand the concept of unity, somebody else is going to take it. We don’t understand the concept of strength in numbers. Look at hip-hop. That shit ain’t ours anymore.
What has to happen next?
I don’t know what has to happen. I think that people have to look for different things in life instead of just turning on the television and turning on the E channel and seeing the fabulous life of Diddy and the fabulous life of the rich and famous. Those people are more stressed out than regular people because once you have the money, you get used to it. Now what do you stand for? You drive a big, fancy car and live in a big house and now what? You still got 30-40 years to live. What you gonna do?
It’s like that movie I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. It’s by the Wayans brothers. The movie is a comedy but it has all of these political undertones in it. There’s a dude in the movie who OG’d like how you OD on drugs. There’s a guy who bought so much gold that he OG’d. They said he “over-golded.” That’s the mentality of black people right now. We’re greedy. If you ask any young kid in the ‘hood, he’s going to tell you he’s trying to get that paper. But when you ask him what he’s going to do with that money, there’s nothing he can tell you. He’s not going to invest in any real estate. He’s going to go and get those 20s. That’s sad, man.
Come on. I’ve lived that gangster life and nobody wants to be a gangster. If somebody can say, “I want to be a gangster. I love prison. I love having a guard tell me when to go to bed. I love walking down the street knowing that I can get my head blown off,” he’s crazy. I lived that and I thought at the time, with my young mind, that that was what would make me a man. I took being feared and interpreted it as getting respect. When I saw the way I was living, I was like, ‘This is ass-backwards.’
You mention STDs on “I Know” and that’s not the first time, as you’ve mentioned it in “Pain In My Life” and “Shot In My Booty,” among others. Why this is such an important issue for you?
The reason I do that is because if you look at HIV and AIDS, black women are No. 1 in the new cases. That should mean everything to a black man. That’s your mother, that’s your wife, that’s your daughter, that’s your sister and that’s your grandmother. Why do they make up the highest percentage of AIDS cases? We don’t even make up more than 30% of the population but we make up over half of the new AIDS cases? The numbers don’t even add up. And a lot of that has to do with the men who sleep with men and then go sleep with girls. A lot of dudes do that and a lot of dudes are caught up in what America is promoting right now and that’s homosexuality. You can turn on a TV and see two men kissing.
I was on YouTube and there’s this thing called “Too Much Beyonce” and he’s a 5 or 6 year-old boy that dances like Beyonce. Where did he learn this from? He learned it from TV. He’s doing every move from Beyonce. He’s a boy! And there are over a million views on it. People find this shit funny like it’s entertaining. It’s crazy to me. Little boys who think they’re little girls, that’s like a dog meowing. That’s like a dog acting like a cat. That doesn’t make sense.
The thing is, homosexuality has nothing to do with love. It’s about sex. It’s a lower desire. It’s lust. They always try to say, “Oh, these people are in love. That’s why he’s sticking his dick in his ass.” I have a lot of male friends that I love and that I would die for, but we would never ever lay in the bed and have sex. It has nothing to do with love. I got homies that I would risk my freedom for because these are dudes that I grew up with and these are dudes that I love, but when you’re talking about homosexuality, you’re just talking about the sex part of it. That’s lust. I mean, it is what it is. It’s America, man. You have to understand that this country was built on bloodshed, killing and raping. They can take something that immoral and make it seem good and it doesn’t surprise me.
They glamorize war. Listen to the “Star Spangled Banner.” “The rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” That’s about war, killing innocent babies and shit. Do you know how many people got killed in Iraq? We sing that song and it’s our national anthem. We were coming up killing shit. You want to talk about a gangster rap star, look at Francis Scott Key.
On “I Know” you said you wouldn’t let your kids listen to rap.
Nah. No way. If I have some, no way. It should be against the law. It should be against the law in any good parent’s house. You might as well let them watch a porno. “Hey, Mom, we want to watch a porno!” “Okay, go right ahead!” (laughs)
The concept of it is that it’s supposed to be for adults or a mind that’s able to comprehend what’s right and what’s wrong, but it’s marketed to kids who can’t tell the difference. It doesn’t make sense. The content in it is for mature minds but they market it to kids. That’s where we have this conflict. It’s like the same thing with tobacco companies when they market cigarettes with little cartoon ads. They just lost a big lawsuit. They pay for all those Truth campaigns. Why isn’t anybody doing that for hip-hop?” Let’s expose these dudes. The kids will then be like, ‘We don’t want to hear that from you.’
You finally released your first official single with Just Blaze in “Come On Baby.” Are you happy with the response to the song so far?
Yeah. I’m more than happy with it because everybody likes it. You have to understand, radio is only going to play a song with a singing hook or a gimmicky thing and I don’t go in the studio to make music and say, “What is the radio going to play?” Mainstream is going to have to cross over to Saigon. Atlantic knows that. Craig, Julie, Gee and Hip-Hop all know that. I know they’re not waiting for me to come out with a radio record because there’s a formula for it.
What they do is research. What they do is when they put your record out, they call people and they just play the hook of your song. They say, “Do you like this song?” They just call random people and they don’t play the words. They just play the hook. That’s what determines how many stations add you. That’s what the people don’t know. That’s why they call it “radio programming.” They program songs that are going to program you. If you keep hearing the same song, you’re going to like that song. “Hey Bay Bay,” when that song came on for the first time, I hated it. Now when the song comes on I find myself like, ‘Hey Bay Bay.” I’m like a parrot now. (laughs)
Is “Come On Baby” as close as you can get to having commercial appeal?
I don’t think so. I have songs that are way much more appealing than “Come On Baby.” “Come On Baby,” we knew that that was a hip-hop record. Keep in mind that Just Blaze is a hip-hop head. Just Blaze is a hip-hop dude. I’m a hip-hop dude. When they put us together, they didn’t expect us to come out with some fake-ass R&B, gimmicky-type shit. We do what we do. Of course we would love to have plaques and have all of the accolades, but if we have to do and go through all of the bullshit, from what I know about Just and what I know about myself, I’m not willing to do that and he’s not willing to either. We make great music and my song is getting great rotation in my city. If you go to Hot97.com, I have one of the highest songs on the playlist. There are 10 million people in New York City. I don’t need to worry about other regions supporting me. You have to understand, I’m building a musician’s career. It’s like a baseball game. You don’t send everybody out trying to hit a home run. You have to get some runners on base before you send the nigga out to hit a home run. You have to pace yourself. A lot of people shoot themselves in the foot trying to swing for the fences every time they’re out. You’re going to lose the game. It’s not smart. It’s like a basketball team that only shoots 3-pointers because it’s 3 instead of 2. We’ll drive to the lane, get fouled, make the free throw and when we’re open, we’ll take the 3. That’s life.
In June there seemed to be friction between you and Just Blaze. Is everything good?
That was just a stupid misunderstanding. That was just a misunderstanding. We argue all the time and he even put it up on YouTube. It just so happened to spill out and be misconstrued like we were beefing. We were never, ever beefing. There’s a lot of frustration. We’ve been at this shit for a long time. It’s not just me that’s frustrated. Everybody’s frustrated. And I’ve turned down release dates because I felt I wasn’t ready. A lot of people think I can’t get one. Saigon’s coming out when he wants to come out. I’m coming out when I feel I’ve set the stage enough and have the people to not only be waiting for the music but to have a little understanding of what I’m about. That’s what it’s about. I have a lot of things coming out.
How ready are you to come out right now?
Ready to come out? I’m about 80% ready. Music-wise, I feel like I’m 90% but I haven’t set the stage. We’re about to shoot the video for “Come On Baby” next week and I’m about to shoot a video for Entourage on HBO. I have Jay-Z on a song. I have Faith Evans and all of these people on the records. Why would I have all that and just release my album to the world? What I have going on is going to put me in a much better space to put out the album. Every time I get frustrated reading the MySpace blogs or people coming up to me on the street, asking me when I’m coming out, I have to remember that I have to be ready. I just want to get the same chance that any other artist would get. I just want the same chance that you would give an artist that you really believe in because of my subject matter and my stance and my racial undertones, if you want to call it that. I just want the same chance. KRS had a chance. Poor Righteous Teachers, Brand Nubian and X Clan all got a chance. They all got their chance. I’m just an updated version of that. Right now people don’t care about being black anymore.
Ideally when will The Greatest Story Never Told come out?
The thing about this game is that one little thing can change everything. I can slap a rapper tomorrow and be ready. I might go to the club, knock a dude out and they’ll be like, ‘We have to put an album out!’ Realistically speaking, in a perfect world, I wouldn’t be scared to come out in the fourth quarter, but the label probably won’t be ready for that. The top of the year would be good for me. It’s the top of the year, come with a new sound and a new style. Nobody’s doing what I’m doing. People understand what’s going on but nobody’s doing what I’m doing.
My man Peter Rosenberg at Hot97 did a poll on Hot97 and asked which artist had the most potential based on skills and hunger and I won that shit by a landslide. So the people know. When I go to every ‘hood, I get a different kind of love. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I love that bar.’ It’s, ‘I respect what you’re trying to do. We respect that.’ I’m talking about straight gangsters in Chicago, Compton and L.A. I don’t even have to worry about real niggas trying to rob me or none of that shit because it’s a different level of respect. And I don’t try to come off as no tough guy. A lot of the tough songs I wrote when I was 19 or 20 years-old. I just said, “Fuck it.” But now when you get my music, it’s more of a mature version of me. It’s more like, ‘Let’s get this thing working.’
A lot of fans think you have problems at Atlantic. How is your relationship up there?
I don’t have anything bad to say about Atlantic, I just wish I had more good things to say about Atlantic, feel me? I love the people up there individually. But when the system’s not working for you, what can you do? I love Julie. She was at one of my shows recently. I love Craig. But they have people investing in their company and they have to do what’s going to make them money. They’re not focused on making history with music. Even though I think the money will come if they do that, they’re not looking at it like that. It’s never been a particular individual that’s been holding me back up there.
I always say that all the big artists, their first label didn’t see their vision. T.I. was on Arista. Alicia Keys was on Columbia. Jay-Z was on Priority. I’m sure he left on his own, but if they were smart, they would have given him the money he needed to keep him. 50 Cent was on Columbia. Why would you let 50 Cent go? Because they didn’t see the vision. DMX was on Columbia years before Def Jam but that was during another era and he was grimy and they didn’t see his vision. They were like, ‘Nah, this is too hardcore’ and he came out and did better than all of them. People want something new but if it’s not available, they can’t get it. How can they ever get it? They’re not. So they’re forced to take what’s being shoved down their throat.
David Banner named his album The Greatest Story Ever Told. How did you feel about that at first?
Before I spoke to him, I was a little tight because I was like, ‘I’m trying to build this shit up like a brand.’ My mixtape is The Moral of the Story. When I saw him we spoke about it and he said, “I wasn’t aware.” What can you say after that? He said, “I wasn’t aware that you were using that title and we’ve already done a lot of marketing with that.” When you look a man in his eye and he tells you he didn’t know, I would be an asshole to push the issue. You can’t hold it against him when he wasn’t aware of it. If I don’t know there’s a gorilla in the closet and I go in and I get mauled, that’s partially not my fault. I give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s established. I don’t think people are going to get us mixed up like, ‘Oh, shit, I bought the wrong shit. I thought it’s David Banner but it’s Saigon.’ Shyheim had an album called The Greatest Story Never Told and I was younger and we almost got into it. I was mad at that situation. There’s shit written about the Father that’s called The Greatest Story Never Told. There’s nothing new under the sun.
I go under the radar a lot and I can’t complain because I’ve had a lot of ideas that the label didn’t believe in and then someone else would come out with an idea that was damn-near exactly like mine. Sometimes I have to rethink what I’m doing. Me and David Banner think alike sometimes. He’s up on certain aspects of society that a lot of artists wouldn’t even think of. It kind of makes sense for an artist like him to be thinking like that. We’re cool. That’s the homie.
You made headlines three weeks ago when you got arrested for possession of a knife. How’s that situation looking right now?
It’s a felony just because I’m a predicate violent felon. When Scott Leemon, who’s my attorney, explained to me why I had to get a bail for a knife, he said, “Look at your record. Look at your rap sheet, homie.” I’m like, ‘Damn, all this shit these niggas rap about and I’m going through it because of a knife?’ They’re about to send me to Rikers Island for a pocket knife. It’s not like I was about to poke somebody. I was the only one that got arrested in the car. You know why? Because of my criminal history. That’s why they call it a record so they can keep track of you. They said the knife had to be mine because I was the only violent one in the car. You know how far I thought I left that shit behind me? I’m not sitting here like, ‘I’m trying to kill somebody every single day.’
I don’t even like guns around me today. When I’m in a situation where I feel I need a gun, I try to get out of that situation as fast as possible.
Were you treated unfairly by the police?
Of course I was. This is America. I was arrested with possession of a knife like they thought I was about to go and stab somebody. It says on these papers that this is how I get down. I have so many violent charges on my paper that they figured I had to be going to do something. They’re just going off of what I have on my paper.
It’s like if a new dude moves into your neighborhood. You don’t know this guy. You don’t know this guy from a can of paint. But there’s a law that if a guy is convicted of a rape or a sexual assault that wherever he moves, they have to make the neighborhood aware. This dude is a convicted sexual predator. You’re going to look at this dude differently no matter who he is. You’re going to know that he’s done some dirty, grimy shit and you’re not going to treat him like a human being even if he did it 10 years ago. You’re not going to want your kids outside when he’s outside. That’s exactly like what they did to me. They’re judging me based on my past.
Can you beat this charge?
Oh, yeah. I’m going to beat it. I have to come up with some paper now. I’m doing all right, but $10 grand for a knife charge is not good. I have to cancel dates and rearrange my schedule. I have to spend between $10 and $15 grand for a knife charge. I can do without that.
What’s your plan from here on out?
I supply the label with great music. That’s one thing that they can never deny, but it’s up to them. We’re in this together. If they’re not going to put something up for me, I can’t do it. I can’t afford the marketing costs. I can’t dig in my piggybank and go shoot a $200,000 video. They have to keep their end of the bargain. Where’s their marketing staff? If you look at Atlantic Records, the label I’m on, I don’t think they have one other East Coast artist on there, so you know I’m in a jam. You know they’re not fucking with the East Coast. Me, I’m the only one. It’s crazy. It’s not like Saigon is not delivering high quality material because The Moral of the Story is competing with all of these niggas’ new albums and this is old shit. Me and Just have undeniable crack sitting in that computer. “Come On Baby” is probably one of our weakest records. “Come On Baby” is one of our weakest records and look at what it’s doing. It’s crushing niggas. Crooked I just did his “Hip-Hop Weekly” over the “Come On Baby” beat and he says, “Saigon, this is the hottest record out.” But you still need the label’s support. You need them to fight for you like they fight for the big dogs. You have to prove that you’re worthy for them to fight for you and that shit is unfair because you need them to get you to that point. It’s a catch 22.
It’s like they’re asking you to fight a fight that you can’t even enter.
Exactly. And they’re expecting you to win it. It’s like, ‘You don’t have my back?’ But I like the people up at Atlantic. They’re cool people and I’m a people person. It’s the system. It’s like if I worked a job and I liked the manager but I didn’t like the way the system was running. It’s like I understand their stance and they understand my stance but it’s just that nothing’s clicking. My whole thing is that if y’all are not going to give me the support or believe in my project, let me go. Let me try this shit somewhere else because I know there’s somebody else who’s going to see my vision. But they can’t let me go down the street and blow up and have them look stupid. That’s the only thing that I didn’t want to see happen. I’m not scared to say, “I got dropped. I got out of my contract.” I would rather not be signed to a label. I would rather be independent right now. I would rather be independent right now by far. But I can’t be because I signed that paper, thinking we had an understanding when we really didn’t. And now it’s like, ‘What’s the problem?’ It’s not like I made ringtone records before Atlantic. There’s a reason why they signed me.
But my next move is The Moral of the Story and the “Come On Baby” video. I have a lot of things coming and I just have to keep on doing what I do. I’m a simple person. I don’t need a lot. I just have to keep on doing what I’m doing. My personal life is great. My mother is good. My sister is good. I have a brother who’s going through something but he’ll be all right. I’m alive at this stage of my life. A lot of my friends are getting out of jail. My friend Shareef just wrote a book. He did 15 years in prison and he self-published it. It’s at the plant right now getting pressed up. I’m proud of him and I’m happy for him. I don’t go to the club looking for nasty hoodrats anymore. If I’m in the club, I just want the DJ to play my record. “Play the record. Play my song!”
I used to try to get them to play “Pain In My Life” at the club. The DJs are like, ‘I can’t play that song, Saigon.’ I said, “Why not? Come on.” He said, “You can’t play this, Saigon. Come on, man. These people are trying to drink their problems away. You think they want to hear about pain in their life right now? All of them have pain in their life or they wouldn’t in this motherfucker on ecstasy and alcohol. They’re trying to escape reality.” I’m like, ‘Motherfucker, I’m trying to remind them! So when they sober up, they realize that they still have pain in their motherfucking life!’
There might be a mass suicide in the club all of a sudden.
Yeah, right. (newscaster voice) 80 people committed suicide after leaving the club last night after hearing “Pain In My Life.”
What do you want to say to everybody?
Stick around. Watch how the story unfolds, man. I know that there are a lot of people that sleep on me and a lot of people think I’m not gonna pop off or make a splash in the game, You stay tuned. Come on, man. The thing about me is that I love hip-hop for how I remember it and I love being black. I love what we created and I love who we are as a people. I hate the fact that overall, we don’t understand who we are and we don’t use our potential. It’s like smart dope fiends. It’s like Earl “The Goat” Manigoat. The motherfucker could have been the best basketball player in the world and used his influence to do great things but he started fucking with heroin and it tore him apart. We’re all just micros in the macro and I’m a student of life.