In 2001 Saul Williams was shouting “cancel the apocalypse” on his Rick Rubin-produced debut, Amethyst Rock Star. Those words went unheard and there are those that theorize many cultural deaths have elapsed since. None of which has mattered to Saul Williams’ spirit. In those 15 years since, Williams has worked in many mediums to convey his singular message of uplifting black culture. He’s written books of poetry, starred in films, and even the stage in for a broadway musical featuring the music of Tupac Shakur entitled Holler If Ya Hear Me. Whether his records operate in rap, rock, dance or punk, the message conveys an unflinching devotion to social injustice and a worldview towards inequality. His recently released MartyrLoserKing might seem like a bitter American title, but Williams plugged into a global feed of net-revolution for his sixth studio album.
MartyrLoserKing is the story of a hacktivist in Burundi. The character burns brightest on “The Bear/Colton as Cotton” with its warped poem of hacker platitudes. Here, Saul demands a hacking of dietary sustenance, the rebellious gene, desperation, land rights, faith and morality, the treatment of one faith towards another, sexuality, and god. “Hack into the subconscious, hack into violence and fear,” he intones. There is a correlation he’s drawing across the album that ties hacking to being woke and the criminalisation of enlightenment. It’s all delivered across future primitive production that sounds the drums of rebellion into the cyber mainframe of a deep web militia in wait. Co-produced by Justin Warfield of She Wants Revenge and featuring appearances by Haleek Maul and Emily Kokal of Warpaint, MartyrLoserKing is Saul Williams’ virtual Banksy of rap out to alert the monitors and Macbooks of proletarian unrest.