Saul Williams’ open-mic escapades with the Nuyorican Poets peaked at Sundance when Slam won the Grand Jury Prize, and the art world celebrated the arrival of a whole new kind of talent. He defied his genre’s precious reputation and tore voraciously into the guts of life, groping after the exalted and transcendent sex sensations that make it all worth living. His early success led to collaborations with the likes of Erykah Badu, Nas, The Roots and Zack De La Rocha, and descended as much from KRS One and Public Enemy as Allen Ginsberg and Amiri Baraka, he was a new kind of poet.
With each of Williams’ great successes has come abrupt change. He has pinball bounced from Morehouse philosophy scholar to cerebral street sermonizer to breakout indie actor, from hallucinatory hip-hop alchemist to dreadlocked mohawk rockstar, vibing Nine Inch Nails, scurrying across tones, modes and media to defy categorization. He has read published poetry volumes to operahouse audiences with full orchestral backing. He has contributed to the New York Times, voiced Jean Michel Basquiat in Downtown 81 and cut records with Rick Rubin and Trent Reznor. Throughout all these chaotic ventures, Saul Williams has been one steady thing: an uncompromising voice determined to tap the adrenaline center of his existence with any tool he can get his hands on.