Saigon, one of the first-rate mixtape emcees from New York, has received a lot of attention for his troubled background, but the rapper has a message against gang violence.
"The Color Purple," a song produced by Scram Jones, speaks directly to kids in the street who claim gang sets and the very rappers selling such images to children.
"The reason why I made that song is because in New York we know nothing about gang culture," he told AllHipHop.com. "We’ve heard about [Bloods and Crips] in the movies and videos- that’s how s**t spread, through media. If they can spread the negativity, then we can use the same medium to shut it down."
Critics may try to label Saigon as hypocritical considering his own past, which included several years in jail, but he said he has matured and feels like his message is necessary.
"I used to be in a lot of s**t, but that was before I was conscious," he said. "When I was out running the street I had no sense of direction. I was following. I wish I had a motherf**ker like me to tell me to chill. Somebody could have probably saved me from all of those years I spent in prison. If one person hears that song and says ‘this gang bangin’ s**t’s wack, killing my own brothers… and there’s nothing good coming out of it’ – it’s cool. These motherf**kers just want to belong to something."
Ironically, Crips and Bloods in the Los Angeles area recently reconvened peacefully to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 1994 gang truce.
Representatives from four large local housing projects re-signed a peace agreement, which was based on a cease-fire arrangement between Egypt and Israel in 1949.
Saigon stated that the East Coast needs to adopt a similar philosophy. While New York has had it’s own gang culture for decades, he cites a change in the times.
"The Zulu Nation is like an evolution. It’s like comparing Malcolm X to Dirty Red. You’ve got people like [West Coast staple] Mike Conception telling [people] to put the flag down, that gang bangin’ s**t is stupid, that it’s wrong, that it’s killing each other and it’s tearing down our community," Saigon said. "And these are the O.G.’s of this s**t. Young rap punk motherf**kers come in the game and try to promote [gang violence], never really put in any work in the street – knowing you’re in somebody’s studio all g###### day. Then these little kids who don’t have nothing take it and run with it. These guys are in a tour bus, doing shows, and these kids who really look up to these motherf**kers and really believe these guys. I was one of those kids – it wasn’t no gang bang s**t, but it was some old thug it out s**t."
Saigon expressed that there is a direct connection between the music industry, the media, and the negative effects on society that stem from over-glamorizing the gangsta rap image.
"Motherf**kers gotta be more responsible. F### these motherf**kers making all the money off you, be responsible for your people. There’s gonna be a time when people are looking back in retrospect at the reason why we’re in these f##### up conditions. Who’s a part of the problem, and who’s a part of the solution?"
With no immediate answers, Saigon likened today’s rap artists as exaggerated stereotypes peddling the destruction images across a worldwide platform.
"These rappers look the same way we looked in 1929 when we see the black ‘jiggaboos’ tap-dancing for the crackers. That’s the way these rappers are gonna look 50 years from now," he said. "They don’t see it right now. Just the way [people] in blackface didn’t think at the time that they were being clowned. Think about it. There’s no right way to do something wrong."
Saigon recently released of his first internationally distributed project, Warning Shots, a collection of his finest mixtape moments.
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