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Saigon's life story is tragic: he was imprisoned as an adolescent for assault and spent most of his teenage years behind bars. This incarcerated adolescence imbues the rapper with both an undercutting arrogance towards, and an abiding ambivalence about, the gangsta/prisoner persona adopted by many rappers. In the tradition of Nas and Rakim, Saigon is an intelligent hoodlum, offering up observations of street life without entirely endorsing the violence and greed normally associated with it. Like 50 Cent and Papoose, Saigon came up in New York City's mix tape circuit, recording hundreds of unofficial remixes, freestyles and lo-fi street anthems. But unlike other rappers in that rather cluttered scene, Saigon is supremely talented. He has an appealing voice and a flow that is spry -- he can easily scale changing tempos, using his voice as both a percussive counterpoint and as melodic embellishment. But more than mere technical wizardry, Saigon can deliver a hot punch line as easily as he can write more conceptual fare. He's one of rap's most versatile emcees, and has been the "next big thing" for years now. In 2004, he linked up with superstar producer Just Blaze's fledgling Fort Knox Entertainment label.
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