Brian Daniel Carenard
July 13, 1977
2000 - Present
East Cost Hip-Hop
Squid Ink Squad Records
Just Blaze, Tru-Life, Jay-Z
New York, NY
Born to an African-American mother and a father from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saigon was sentenced to jail time at Napanoch’s Eastern Correctional Facility in the late 1990s, serving a sentence for first-degree assault after shooting at someone in a bar. One day while in the recreation yard, Brian met a fellow inmate named Hakim, who rapped and had a reputation for incorporating positive messages, and heavy use of prestigious vocabulary in his rhymes. Carenard would later state that battle rapping with Hakim would help instigate his personal rehabilitation, as he set a course for redemption through hip hop music. While serving time, Brian named himself "Saigon" after reading Wallace Terry’s book about the Vietnam War. This book helped realign the content and diction in Saigon's raps, as well as the advice of a prison lifer: "There’s no right way to do wrong." Saigon was eventually released from prison in 2000, and immediately recorded mixtapes, with the goal of obtaining a record contract as a means to release a debut album, which he wanted to be titled "The Greatest Story Never Told".
With the help of the underground buzz that he garnered over the years, Saigon signed a record deal with Atlantic Records in 2004. Despite the co-sign from producer Just Blaze and collaborations with several acclaimed rap artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and Kool G Rap, Saigon's record label repeatedly balked at setting a release date for his debut album. Saigon revealed that he realized as early as two months into his deal with Atlantic Records that there were problems. He later recalled how his early excitement at signing to the same label that "had so much history with black music, like Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles" was quickly dampened when they suggested he record a radio-friendly song with the Miami-based R&B quartet, Pretty Ricky. He also recalled a meeting with an Atlantic executive who told him "We need our three singles, then you can bust your artistic nut on the rest of the album." Saigon however, wasn’t willing to compromise with this request, and only one year after signing with Atlantic, he hired a lawyer to work out a release from his label. He explained "They signed me knowing the kind of music I was making, but then they try and change the direction".
This however didn’t prompt a break from his record company, as they offered a few stipends, leading him and his fans to believe they’d still eventually put the record out. Saigon later suspected that Atlantic wanted to make sure he didn’t take the material elsewhere and benefit from the buzz he’d created. While caught in this issue with Atlantic, Saigon continued to perform freestyles on hip hop radio shows, release mixtapes, and also continued to write and record The Greatest Story Never Told. Despite not having an official album out, Saigon gradually became somewhat of a high-profile hip hop artist, as he appeared on the covers of several magazines and had a recurring role playing himself on the hit HBO show Entourage. Saigon was also managed by celebrity manager Glenn Toby.
In 2009, Saigon signed with Boston-based new media outfit and independent label Amalgam Digital.
On April 14, 2014, Saigon announced the formation of his own record label – Squid Ink Squad Records, which is partnered up with global media company CPXi, who specialize in digital media. On July 28, 2014 it was announced that Saigon's third studio album would release on September 30, 2014.