- ARTIST: SAIGON
- GENRE: RAP | HIP-HOP
- LOCATION: BROOKLYN, NY
- AVAILABILITY: AVAILABLE
Analogous to mixtape kingpins 50 Cent and Papoose, Saigon rose to prominence within hip-hop’s top ranks, particularly in New York, on unofficial singles and mixtapes alone. Politically conscious and street-smart, the rapper became a formidable force when he was taken under the wing of Roc-A-Fella Records’ in-demand producer Just Blaze, who shared his passion for early-’90s hip-hop.
Born in Brooklyn but raised in Rockland County, New York, Saigon (aka Brian Carenard) developed his deft rhyming skills during his seven-year stint in prison, where he also earned the nickname “the Yardfather.” Only a teenager, he spent much of his time delving into politics and black history, educating himself on topics like the Vietnam War and Toussaint L’Ouverture, but he identified primarily with the history and background of Malcolm X. After his prison release in 2000, he established the company Abandoned Nation, which was partly a nonprofit foundation to provide support for the children of incarcerated parents, but also helped him and associated artists to pursue their music careers. His first important musical contact was DJ/producer Mark Ronson, who gave him studio time and access to other valuable contacts. The rapper later left Ronson’s company, on good terms, in order to explore better options.