Speak up

Speak up

By BENJAMIN SPIER
November 26, 2009 23:31
2 minute read.
saul williams 88

saul williams 88. (photo credit: )

 
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The meaning of the second verse in the song Tr(n)igger by Saul Williams would seem veiled to the average listener in the United States, but the verse which reads: "You wanna blame them boys in Lebanon/ And act like you don't know where they get it from/ You want to project all your problems/ And murder every way to solve them/" should catch the attention of any Israeli who is surrounded by the literary and cinematic discussions of past Lebanon wars. "When I say it in America, it's not a big deal, but it has a different meaning in Israel," said Williams about the lyrics after he was asked what comments he has made in his music about Israel or the Palestinians. Saul Williams, the American musician and poet, will be performing his spoken word poetry in Israel this Friday as part of the urban music mini fest in Tel Aviv. Williams' most recent album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, speaks about the need for the little man to rise up for what he deserves, a theme present throughout a lot of Williams' music and poetry. Although Williams rarely refers to Israel directly, he says that it should be obvious that he is constantly criticizing what he considers the displacement of the Palestinian people. "I never said the word Palestinians," said Williams about the lack of specific references, "like I never said the word revolution. It's too simple, like an artist using primary colors." While speaking to the Jerusalem Post, Williams made comparisons between the Palestinians and the Native Americans, and said he couldn't understand why America reprimanded South Africa for apartheid but maintained a strong relationship with Israel. Williams was unsure if he will perform poems that criticize Israel in his performance at the Tel-Aviv club Comfort 13 this Friday night. Williams began writing and performing rap music as a teenager, but he became famous for his spoken word poetry in the 1998 documentary SlamNation about performers at the National Poetry Slam. He has since released numerous music albums, written books of poetry and delved into an acting career. One of Williams' goals in his music is to spur conversation about important issues. Despite the lack of the mention of slavery or the African American community, the song 'List of Demands' was given the alternate name 'Reparations' after Williams finished writing the music. He gave the reason, "so that anyone who didn't know what that word is would look it up." In many of his musical performances and music videos, Williams dresses up in Native American clothing as the character Niggy Tardust who is prevalent in his recent album containing the same name. "He (Niggy Tardust) is black, he's white and he's Native American. He's hard and he's soft and he doesn't have to be politically correct," said Williams about the multi-racial character. However, Williams will not be dressing up for his Tel-Aviv show. Williams' obscure musical sound and spoken word performances are similar to alternative performances of famous rappers like Mos Def and Common, yet Williams said that he has not been a rapper since he was fifteen. "I don't speak unless I have something to say and I don't care for rhyming," said Williams, "and that makes me a bad rapper." For more info visit www.tabac-weekender.com

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