Saul Williams, Streetwise Shakespeare

“We demand a truth naturally at one with the land/
Not a plant that photosynthesizes bombs on demand/
Or a search for any weapons we let fall from our hands/
I got beats and a plan/
I’m gonna do what I can.”
– Saul Williams, “Act III, Scene 2”

Although Saul Williams’ new self-titled full-length boasts shotgun lyrics like “White boys listen to white boys/Black boys listen to black boys/No listens to no one” and “Hip-hop is lying on the side of the road/Half dead to itself,” the multitalented wordsmith nevertheless claims that he merely set out on his latest sonic journey to have a good time.” The album is not so much a wake-up call as I see it,” Williams explains. “The plan was actually to have fun on this record.”

But one man’s fun is often another man’s philosophy, and when you’re working with something as volatile as language – especially in the clever, rewarding ways that Saul Williams has become famous for – it can be hard to tell the difference. Although Williams’ deft penmanship has continually carried more weight than Dennis Hastert on a bad day, he contends that much of what is written on his latest effort came to him spontaneously during some late nights alone with his hardware. In other words, it might not mean what you think it means.