Few people have ever heard of Saul Williams, and even fewer are aware that he makes music. Williams, a veteran of the New York poetry scene, has released two previous albums, and with his latest effort, The Rise and Inevitable Liberation Of Niggy Tardust, seeks to finally have his message heard by the millions to whom it no doubt applies to. The album, produced by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, is overtly political, confrontational, and invigorating. Saul appeals to his audience on a very tangible level, his smooth baritone voice tinged with the brilliance of Malcolm X and coupled to the beats of Tupac Shakur. The homage paid to music legends such as Bowie, U2, and Public Enemy fuse well with William's brilliant, smooth-as-butter poetry and talk/rap style of delivery.
The album moves along at a brisk pace, chronicling the rise of a Messiah figure, Niggy, and continuing to hammer home nail after nail of culturally relevant messages. Niggy draws references from the Bible and spirituality, hip hop culture, and the continuing struggle of the black man in the United States, all the while pulling cards from the hands of rap, rock, hip-hop, and industrial music to craft his own unique deck of rhymes. He is neither a thug nor a 'G' - he is simply an observer of problems in society who has ideas for fixing them. Again, musically, the album wanders all over the page, with the woes of miscommunication, ignorance, and violence being revealed through everything from over-produced industrial chaos to a simple synthesizer-and-strings arrangement. Despite the variations, however, Williams drives home his point very starkly - that today's generation are killing themselves, and need someone to guide them, whether that be an evanescent cult figure such as Niggy, or a more corporeal character, such as a community leader. Give it a listen.
The Rise and Inevitable Liberation Of Niggy Tardust is available as a free download or as a paid donation from http://niggytardust.com