Very few rappers embody the true essence of hardcore hip-hop the way Sheek Louch does so effortlessly. "I'm in the best shape of my life," he says confidently. "Stronger, faster, like, 'Bionic Man'!" Having earned his stripes as 1/3 of the LOX, as well as a proven solo artist, the Yonkers-native is respected as one of the best to ever do it when it comes to consistently making quality, street-approved music. Whether spitting alongside the Notorious B.I.G. on classics like "The Benjamins," ripping infinite mixtape instrumentals with Kiss and Styles, or breaking into radio with hit records like "Good Love," Sheek always sounds as confident as a veteran, and as hungry as the underdog. Growing up an only child in Yonkers, NY, a young Sheek learned to grind watching his mother work hard to earn a masters degree, while still making time to help him with his math homework. He was inspired to rhyme around the age of 12, by his man Jada. "Me and Kiss used to always stay at our grandmothers' houses in Yonkers, and Kiss was always rappin, and I just tried it and we became like a group. Then Styles came… and that's how it started." Thanks to a powerful plug from up-n-coming queen of R&B soul Mary J. Blige, the trio would soon find themselves a part of a then burgeoning Bad Boy Records. The group became instant hood favorites with the release of the album Money, Power, Respect. After that, they parted ways [less than amicably] with Puff, and joined fellow Y-O family member DMX with the Ruff Ryders camp. Causing a frenzy with their next album, We Are the Streets, the group solidified their hardcore image and both Jada and Styles broke out as critically-respected soloists. Meanwhile, Sheek, an aspiring entrepreneur, began working on their D-Block brand, building a studio, and looking for fresh, hungry young talent. "I've always been had artist slash entrepeneur role," he explains proudly. "I built a studio. I done opened a D-Block car wash, a D-Block Fitteds…all in Yonkers." All that hard work eventually paid off, and Sheek finally released his own solo debut Walk Witt Me independently through their newly founded D-Block Records. Showing off a good head for business, and an even better ear for beats, Sheek surprised fans and critics alike with his solid effort. The dedicated lyricist would continue to go hard on mixtapes, on the internet, and even the radio, slowly and steadily building his up his brand. Then, while rumors of the Lox resigning with Diddy circulated the internet, Sheek announced via Twitter, that he would be ending his impressive indie run and signing with Def Jam. Now that he's got the hip-hop powerhouse label behind him, the D-Block representer is excited as a kid at Christmas, to see what he can do with a little push for his as of yet untitled new album. "I'm like a new artist right now," he says proudly. "I'm still an indie type grind nigga. I just knew it could be bigger if I just had the tools and the machine to take it there." Set for a late November release, Sheek's new album promises fans more of the gritty music they've come to expect from him, just on a higher level. The buzz is already heating up thanks to a mixtape with Green Lantern, "Donny Def Jam - Gorilla Warfare Vol. 1", led by records like the Jungle Brother's inspired "Gorilla Music" and the Green-produced "Cocaine Trafficking." "From back then, all you heard was Styles and Kiss," Sheek explains. "And now its like, 'That dude Sheek, Donny G… Who the fuck?! What the fuck?!' So, I feel great! Def Jam really feeling the energy, so I'm ecstatic, man, I'm excited! Everything I got out on the radio they goin' crazy off of... And that's strictly off of mixtape shit! They aint even hear the stuff I got for the album…the big, BIG records!"
Saigon: the name alone invokes images of war-zones and brutal footage of that fiery city where brothers fought and vice thrived during the Vietnam War. Years after those flames were quenched, another Saigon burns strong, spitting poetic fire on the mic as he verbally stomps the competition into submission. "Rap music has slowly become a minstrel show," declares New York based rapper Saigon who adopted the name after reading Wallace Terry's classic 1985 Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War. A stirring non-fiction book about Black men fighting in that unjust war, it's one of the many books that has influenced the rapper's journey. "Hip-hop has become everything our parents told us not to be." Not known for biting his tongue, Saigon is no stranger to dropping science. On his much-anticipated debut album, The Greatest Story Never Told, the skillful rapper is about to change the world with his poetic flair and wild style. 'I refuse to be a cookie cutter artist." he states. Originally, signed to Atlantic Records, Saigon quit the business when he felt the label was trying to comprise his artistic integrity. "I'm the boss of my music now," says Saigon, who like the best artists has his own vision that he combines with street knowledge, hip-hop swagger and uncanny intelligence. Currently signed to producer Just Blaze's recently launched label Fort Knocks Entertainment, in partnership with Abandoned Nation/Suburban Noize, he is more than ready. Indeed, even before his official debut has dropped, Saigon already has a following of fans who have heard him on various mixtapes including his street classic Abandoned Nation, a collaboration with DJ Whoo Kid and Just Blaze. The Greatest Story Never Told was produced primarily by Just Blaze, the talented producer behind smash hits for Jay-Z, Eminem and T.I., the disc also contains contributions from Kanye West, and Buck Wild. In addition, the stunning rapper also collaborated with various artists including Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz ("Cmon Baby"), Faith Evans ("Clap") and former Floetry member Marsha Ambrosius ("It's Alright). Documenting his world from an unbalanced childhood in which he moved constantly to the six years he spent in jail to his stint on HBO's critically acclaimed Entrouge, every facet of his life has been transformed into poetry on The Greatest Story Never Told. Although Saigon made a name for himself on mixtapes and doing shows, including a recent hit performance for X Games held at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, nothing could compare to the boost his career was given when appearing on the HBO show, Entourage. "TV is TV, but real life is crazy. For me, being on that show was both a gift and a curse. There was a lot of pressure on me to ride the wave and release the album prematurely. Others thought that Saigon was a fictional character. The show made my name big, but I really don't think many people know what I look like." As for his rap style, Saigon reflects, "I try to talk about what is real without romanticizing any aspects of it. There are rappers who have never been locked-up, yet they try to glorify prison. Well, I was there for real and I know there is nothing glamorous about being in jail." Having as much in common with textual rhyme slingers contemporaries Lil Wayne and Drake as he does with his friend Jay-Z, Saigon's words are powerful without being preachy. The official first single from The Greatest Story Never Told is the rock influenced "Bring Me Down." A head-banging track where Saigon verbally slaps the competition, he says, "I felt like when I was going through my problems with Atlantic Records, so many folks were hoping that I would fail. I'm just so happy to still be here and to be stronger than ever." Locked-down when he was 15-years-old and later transferred to an adult prison, Saigon spent much of his jail time feeding his mind with books. "In the beginning I was reading Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim, but then I got put on the path of reading history and philosophy. In reality, prison is designed to drive you insane. I vowed to be smarter and try to spread some of the wisdom I picked-up. I didn't want bragging to be the only thing I had to offer." Saigon was introduced to Just Blaze by a friend when the famed DJ was looking for artists to lace his mixtapes. Finding himself at Baseline Studios, the gritty sound factory where Just Blaze constructed tracks that were hypnotically hard and sonically perfect. As a team, Saigon and Just Blaze share a perfect balance that is reminiscent of dynamic duos Gang Starr and Pete Rock and CL Smooth. After forging a friendship with Just Blaze, the young rapper began spending all of his free time at Baseline; last year, the legendary studio closed it doors. "That was my other home. It was also after the reign of the Roc-A-Fella era, and that's where I met Jay-Z. I would talk to Jay-Z and just thought he was the smartest guy on the planet. It was an education." Sparking the track like a Brooklyn mack, the king of Marcy guest stars on "Cmon Baby." Laughing, Saigon remembers when he told Jay-Z he thought he was an alien. "It's just that the man has so much wisdom and is so well-versed in everything, it's hard to believe that he's real. Jay-Z is going down in history with Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley." On "The Invitation," a song where Saigon rocks the boulevard with Q-Tip, the two created an anti-gangsta track that is straight gangster. "Working with Q-Tip was such a pleasure, because he is truly a musical genius," says Saigon about the Tribe Called Quest lead MC and sometime producer. "He has a sense of music that surpasses the knowledge of many rappers." Perhaps the most timely song on is the track "Preacher." In the age of hypocrites like Bishop Long serving in the pulpit, "Preacher" calls out the fake prophets of Christianity. "A lot of preachers have no problem pimpin' their congregation," Saigon says. "I believe in God and I believe in the church, but I don't believe in ministers taking advantage of their positions." In addition to being a winner in the studio, Saigon is also putting much effort into his foundation called In Arms Reach/Abandoned Nation. "It's always been my dream to help kids who can't help themselves. Right now, we have partnered with another company and we are working on acquiring government grants. Kids are being swallowed by these streets and they need our help. I want to motivate these youngsters who have nothing; there is so much work to be done in our community." Coming correct with sharp skills and provocative poetry, The Greatest Story Never Told is destined to be a rap classic. With Saigon rocking the mic, this is the shot of sonic energy that is needed to wake-up Planet Hip-Hop. "I have a voice and I'm just trying to say the right thing," he says. "This is all part of my mission."
Categories: Concerts & Tour DatesAdded: Jun 24, 2012 at 4:31 PM // Last Modified: Oct 27, 2012 at 12:07 PM
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