Saul Williams. His influence as a poet permeated the Joburg scene following the release of the film Slam. Many a young poet found voice out of his unwavering desire to share his voice. The power of his words force you to listen and his willingness to draw influence without boundary, speaking truth to power with a confidence that many of us wish we had. I listened to his first album Amethyst Rock Star repeatedly for a year and always found something new in the spaces between the words. And when I listen to it today, it still, at times violently, grabs at my beliefs and forces me to reflect on them. I am listening to it again as I write this.
I have offered myself to the inkwell of the wordsmith that I might be shaped into new terms of being.
Williams embraces all that he is and manifests it through art, whether poetry, acting, music, or writing, reminding us that we too are capable, that we too have something to offer this world. Watching him live is an experience in itself, even without the add-ons…he stood alone on a stage in Joburg years ago, just him, a microphone and words that speak to the mind, body and soul.
For those who try to pigeon-hole him, view him from a singular dimension, he pushes against their walls. His albums Saul Williams, The Inevitable Rise of Niggy Tardust and Volcanic Sunlight take you on his evolutionary journey, at times dragging you by your fingertips when you are slow to move. His books S/HE, ,said shotgun to the head and The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip Hop are both works of art and each a call to action.
I keep trying to forget, but I must remember. And gather the scattered continents of a self, once whole. Before they plant flags and boundary my destiny. Push down the watered mountains that blemish this soiled soul before the valleys of my conscience get the best of me. I’ll need a passport just to simply reach the rest of me. A vaccination for a lesser god’s bleak history.
And now, as he prepares to release a new album, Martyr Loser King, he’s put out the video for Burundi. Listen to the words.