The past decade has seen Saul Williams emerge as one of the world's most recognized poets as well as a rising actor and a highly acclaimed musician. In the music world, Saul made noise with some tracks in the mid to late 90's on the Eargasm and Lyricist Lounge compilations, to name a few. The songs he released during this time period were grounded in hip-hop but were a far cry from the traditional rap that was gaining popularity at the time. He released 2001's Amethyst Rockstar, which was co-produced by Rick Rubin and won him critical acclaim all over the world (The Times of London named it best album of the year), leading to him touring with Blackalicious, Cursive and The Mars Volta.
On September 21st, The FADER LABEL will release his latest album, simply titled Saul Williams.
In Saul's own words, "the tracks range from politics to relationships to the politics of relationships. What I ended up with was something that captured the authoritative cool of hip- hop, the playful angst of rock and roll, the raw emotional torment of emo and the fuckoffness of punk."
Saul Williams has proven himself a master of words, music and acting time and time again. With this album, he's expressing himself through what he refers to as "the most powerful artistic medium.â€? He adds, â€œIf it has the power to make a nation nod their heads then it can help society change it's face."
Poet, Musician, Writer, Actor, Philospher...Saul Williams.
excerpt from "The future of language"
"in the beginning was the word. word. and the word was with God. and the word was God. word up. and God said, let there be...and (then) there was. word is bond. and the word was made flesh. word life."
In an age where boundless leaps are being made in communication Saul Williams is evolutionary proof that age old concepts can be fused with new age precepts and expressed with mind opening precision.
'i know God personally in fact he lets me call him me'
Never before has the power of word and our ability to dictate our reality been expressed so clearly and creatively, at once. Saul's poetry represents an evolution of thought, artistry and spiritual consciousness delivered with the lyrical fervor of hip hop and the grace and linguistic mastery of Shakespeare. Saul channels the voice of the New Age, yet, allows a wide ranging stream of consciousness to distort the melody like some sort of lyrical Hendrix.
Saul's debut performance and featured poetry in the Trimark Pictures film Slam, which he co-wrote and starred in, brought audiences to their feet across the world. Winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival (1998), the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, along with the Audience Award for Best Picture and the World Distributers Award for Best Picture, Slam goes down in history for exposing the universal truths that one must grasp in order to escape imprisoned mind-states. Along with his co-star, Sonia Sohn, Saul was personally awarded the Perry Ellis Breakthrough Award by New York's Independent Film Project (IFP) and was also nominated for a Spirit Award for best performance. Marc Levin's idea to direct this poetic masterpiece came about after seeing saul recite his poetry in the Grand Slam Championship at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, where Saul became the the Grand Slam Champion for 1996.
Saul's love of language which is rooted in his love of hip hop has come full circle as he now takes his lyricism back to it's musical roots. Songwriting has become Saul's latest endeavor. He envisions a hip hop that is as musically evolved as his lyricism. collaborating with six band members (viola, cello, electric guitar, bass, drums, and dj) he is composing a sonic soundscape for his already rhythmic and expansive poetry. His music has been featured on a number of CD's, including: Lyricist Lounge, the Slam soundtrack (w/KRS One), Black Whole Styles (Ninja Tunes), Eargasms (Mercury), and Krust's Coded Language (Talkin' Loud). His forthcoming album, Amethyst Rock Star, which is co-produced by Saul and Rick Rubin is highly anticipated.
Saul's work has been featured in The New York Times, Esquire, Time Magazine, Elle, Details, Detour, Premiere, Entertainment Weekly, Vibe, Essence, Source, Rolling Stone, and countless other periodicals. His latest book of poetry, She, was published by MTV/ Pocketbooks and is now in it's third printing. His first book, The Seventh Octave, was published by Moore Black Press. Saul is also featured in a number of poetry anthologies: Listen Up! (Ballantine ), Catch The Fire, (Putnam), Slam, In Defense of Mumia (Harlem River Press).
Saul has performed all around the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, England, Scotland, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Brazil, and Japan. he has been featured at the Whitney Museum (NY), the New Museum (NY) Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Arts, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Stockholm, Sweden. His poetry has been added into the curriculum at a number of universities and high schools across the country where he has been asked to recite his work, lecture, and/or teach workshops, including: New York University, American University, MorehouseCollege, Oberlin, the New School, George Washington University, Cornell University, and Harvard.
Mike: Your word imagery is so powerful! As a boy, what led you down the path to becoming a poet?
Saul: hip hop, theater, and lot's of exposure through travel and exploration. as a kid i had no intentions of becoming a poet. i wanted to act and i wanted to rhyme. those were my only aspirations.
Mike: How did your time in Brazil influence you?
Saul: brazil was the place that put everything into perspective. not because it was brazil, but because it wasn't the u.s. and having grown up as an african-american, taking certain injustices and several liberties for granted i was forced to realize that there was a whole world beyond our doorstep that didn't neccesarily correspond with what i was learning at home. beyond that, brazilian culture, i found to be extremely beautiful in all of the cultural retentions that were held over from africa and the indigenous cultures. but perhaps the biggest influence brazil had on me as a lover of words and language was that in learing portuguese i came to heightened understandings of language in general. i began learing the latin roots of words and similarities and differences in denotation and connotation. poetry is many things and one of those things is an etymological attack on the grammatic norm. by putting words in new orders we perhaqps encourage people to think in new ways.
Mike: Why do you write?
Saul: i write to plan what i'm going to say. i write to arrange my thoughts. i write because reading is one of my favorite past times and we must form habits of replenishing the sources that feed us.
Mike: Your work is now in the curriculum of various schools. How does it feel knowing that your work is influencing a new generation of artists?
Saul: my work has simply been to chronicle the process of finding my voice and it's connection to the spirit. if this encourages others to make that connection within themselves then that is God's work acording to her invisible curriculum.
Mike: What is the thing that you remember most about your travels in Africa?
Saul: i remember the dust. it covered everything from people to plants. africa's ancient beginnings must be dusted off and acknowledged as a starting point for humanity and re membered as part of our collective consciousness as we begin to begin again.
Mike: How would you define your combination of poetry and music?
Saul: When has music ever existed without poetry?
Mike: How do you think new technology affects how you deliver your message?
Saul: more people are able to hear it more readily.
Mike: You're also an actor? What do you like about acting as compared to writing, recording, or giving live poetry recitals?
Saul: acting offers the performer the opportunty to find themselves through losing themselves. you cannot come to a better understanding of a character without coming to a better understanding of yourself. the best actors become the characters they are portraying. to sincerely study acting is to study being.
Mike: Do you consider the success of "SLAM" to be a turning point in your career/evolution as an artist?
Saul: i consider it to be a major turrning point yes, but it was not the first confirmation that i recieved that i perhaps was on the right path.
Mike: What was it like working with Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges on K-Pax?
Saul: they are very nice men. extremely talented. i found jeff bridges to be very giving. it felt as if kevin spacey kind of walked through his role. but perhaps that is his technique. either way, he is very nice.
Mike: How would you compare performing in North America to Europe?
Saul: i think young people have a lot in common across the world right now. i find the audience at our shows to be interestingly similar.
Mike: For newcomers to your work, which piece would you recommend as an "Intro to Saul 101"?
Saul: probably slam
Mike: How would you describe "Amethyst Rock Star"?
Saul: teenage party music
Mike: Whose music and poetry are you listening to/reading?
Saul: k-os from canada, citizen cope, anne sexton, a number of books from young poets across the country handed to me at shows, the new blackalicious.
Mike: What do you think is the embodiment of evil in the world today? Good?
Saul: george bush and att. gen ashcroft