24 hours from now, I will have seen Saul Williams perform for the second time in my life. It is very possible it will not be as incredible as the first time; but that wouldn’t really be a fair standard to hold it to. Because that time was fucking amazing in a way that most live performances (most music, most people, most weekends, most things you ever do in your life) are not. Still, though, I am pretty freaking pumped. In honor of the occasion, I am sharing my top five Saul Williams songs/poems/tracks with the internet, along with youtube links. Get excited.
1987 – I cannot explain what this is about; I only know that it is great. The beat is incredible and the words are even better. This is one of his most hip-hop-esque-in-the-traditional-sense pieces, I think; like, I can’t sing along with it out loud, or it will turn into one of those scenes like in that movie Down to Earth where everyone on the bus glares at the white girl singing “Now, my nigga Rafael just got his jeep out the shop/Mint green sidekick, custom-made rag top/”Strictly Business” is the album that we play/”You’re A Customer”; the pick of the day.”
Act III Scene 2 (Shakespeare) – There are so many levels of things that are great about this song. There’s so so so much wordplay; it really is like Shakespeare, except without the misogyny and having to write a paper on it afterwards. It is also just really intense, in a good way? Like, when I am done listening to it I want to go for an eight-mile run or pass a new bill through Congress or lead a protest or something.
Our Father – Maybe it is just because I have a whole bunch of father issues to go along with this song; but then again, who doesn’t? It is fantastic. It starts out with a super-long speech delivered by someone I can’t identify – it kind of sounds like Malcolm X, but I’ve never found a record of this speech. The first few lines of Saul himself are incredible, though, and the rest of the poem doesn’t let down.
Wine – It’s not a song that initially stands out on the album, but it really grows on you. Trust me on this one. Listen through a few times, and then tell me that it doesn’t stay with you for the rest of the day.
S√he – This is both the hardest title to type out (it is spelled S-radical sign-he) and the least like a song. It is in fact a 20-minute spoken word poem. It’s really moving, and I have a lot of good memories about this; when I used to walk home from school to my house off-campus, this poem was the exact same length of my trip home. So the words would sort of blend in with the traffic and animals on the side of the road and the sunset and the trash and my footsteps, and fade out just as I reached my doorstep. It also has some of the greatest single lines Saul has written, in my opinion. “She told me my father had burned her in another life/she also told me that she loved me.” “Our relationship seemingly falling apart at the seams/but both our grandmothers were seamstresses/for a reason.” (Edit: I am not sure if this is exactly the right youtube video, but it is definitely Saul Williams doin’ some poetry, I’m sure it’s great.)
ALSO it turns out Saul was at SXSW last year, but I guess not this one?
ALSO I am going to see him tomorrow night. Oh my goodness!