Man of many talents – wordsmith, musician, actor, producer and rapper – Saul Williams is coming to The Fleece on 21 July. He’ll be showcasing music from his most recent album, the self-produced Martyr Loser King.
Released last year, Martyr Loser King is Williams’ sixth album, written and recorded between Senegal, Reunion Island, Paris, Haiti, New Orleans and New York. Citing Beyoncé, Fredo Santana and Haitian field recordings as just some of the influences, this latest effort expands on Williams’ unique spoken word sound.
A multi-media project that tackles subjects such as hacking, activism and social justice, the album explores how these play out between first and third world countries from the point of view of the album’s eponymous character, invented by Williams. A miner from East Africa’s Burundi, Martyr Loser King turns hacker, starting a revolution from his laptop as the album unfolds.
The song Burundi, featuring Warpaint’s Emily Kokal, is typical of the album’s lyrical content: ‘Nike swoosh on bare feet, Whitney Houston’s crack pipe / The greatest love of all, watch me rise to watch me fall / Contemplating, rent is late in houses that I can’t afford / Show my papes at Heaven’s gates, they ask me for my visa’.
A miner from East Africa’s Burundi, Martyr Loser King turns hacker, starting a revolution from his laptop as the album unfolds.
Williams has always remained first and foremost a poet and his lyrics are always the key point in his music. When asked why he works within so many artistic areas, he responded: ‘there is a certain type of emotion that is more easily accessible through music than poetry… some things are meant to be written, some are meant to be sung, some things are meant to be hummed, some things are made to be yelled, and so that’s just how life works.’
Williams has been on fire ever since the release of his incendiary first full album Amethyst Rockstar with producer Rick Rubin in 2014, though he emerged decades before from the New York poetry slam scene in the 90s. Gaining fame from collaborations with musicians such as The Fugees, Erykah Badu, KRS-One and De La Soul, as well as poets Allan Ginsberg and Sonia Sanchez, he continues to shock, inspire and awaken all those that visit his live shows. Make sure you’re one of them.
Words by Charise Clarke