Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Saigon: The Greatest Story Never Told: Chapter Two: Bread and Circuses [Suburban Noize, 2012]
Although the beats have fallen off a little--Just Blaze moves up to executive producer on most tracks--the prompt follow-up to Brian Carenard's long-delayed debut is slightly less militant and, as a direct result, stronger. The best song on an album distinguished by two major conscious anthems--the well-hooked tribute to the martyrs "Blown Away," and "Rap vs Real," a sharp-tongued rebuke to hip hop authenticity myths that backhands Puffy on its way to gonorrhea and the IRS--nails a theme few of his fans are savvy enough to grok and no rock icon of my acquaintance has gotten near: "Relafriendship," about his long-term bond to a woman he'd better not go to bed with because that'll screw up what they've got. But almost nothing here dips to ordinary. And beats or not, one reason is that the rapper's rough clarity is musical bedrock. A-