SAUL WIL­LIAMS

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SAUL WIL­LIAMS

Mar­tyrLoserKing

This is Saul Wil­liams’ lat­est ef­fort to ex­am­ine our so­cial dis­con­nect by way of speak­ing truth to power. Part of a mul­ti­me­dia pro­ject (in­clud­ing a play and a graphic novel), it’s based on the story of a hacker in an im­pov­er­ished na­tion state; the al­bum bats around the theme of hack­ing the con­scious­ness to re-ex­am­ine the dys­func­tional world around us. The wil­fully genre-ag­nos­tic Wil­liams is best de­fined as a slam poet at­tuned to spe­cific mu­si­cal in­flu­ences — rap, soul, punk — who is all about chal­leng­ing so­ci­ety to ques­tion it­self, its lead­ers and its sys­tems. It’s heady stuff to dive into, and Wil­liams isn’t par­tic­u­larly con­cerned whether lis­ten­ers sink or swim, so long as they get wet. The charged-up vibe on opener “Ground­work” feels like a sonic bap­tism, set­ting the stage for the ser­mon to come. “Think Like They Book Say” rep­re­sents the “genre be damned” ap­proach, rid­ing an ur­gent hip-hop beat with a chaotic soul-rock feel. Warpaint’s Emily Kokal lends vo­cals on “Bu­rundi,” an omi­nous, am­bi­tious “ques­tion au­thor­ity” num­ber with stri­dent lyrics like “I’m a hacker run­nin’ through your hard drive.” Wil­liams is a “mas­ter of space and time,” to bor­row a lyric from “Horn of the Clock-Bike,” a true revo­lu­tion­ary in a world that needs one, but doesn’t know it yet. The age of in­for­ma­tion hasn’t re­vealed knowl­edge, Wil­liams main­tains, it’s only pro­vided more ways to con­ceal it; Mar­tyrLoserKing is a vi­brant ef­fort to shine a light with the hope that peo­ple go to­wards it. (Pi­rates Blend, pi­rates­blend.com)

HOW DO YOU REACH THOSE WHO AREN’T USED TO HAV­ING THEIR BE­LIEF SYS­TEMS CHAL­LENGED?

That’s the thing about beauty. Beauty doesn’t have to be chal­lenged. It at­tracts. So that’s part of the thing that comes quite sim­ply. That type of hon­ing, of nur­tur­ing, and adding those lay­ers of rich­ness and tex­ture to en­hance and bring out the beauty that is al­ready there. It creates a sort of mag­netism. You can em­bed the mu­sic with code; it’s about touch­ing peo­ple with mu­sic.

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEO­PLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM THE AL­BUM?

How­ever you feel when you fin­ish lis­ten­ing. Wher­ever you land, that’s the step in that di­rec­tion. In terms of con­cepts and con­text, I have a lot of fun try­ing to talk to the times, and speak through the times. I think it’s fun in terms of cre­at­ing those lit­tle shocks and try­ing to find a way to af­fect and en­hance aspects of cul­ture. Things are there to be played with, in a sense.

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