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Saul Williams

Born in Newburgh, N.Y. in 1972 to the son of a preacher father and schoolteacher mother, Saul quickly learned to value the weight of words. After graduating Moorhouse College with a Philosophy degree, Saul went on to pursue a Master’s in Acting at New York University. It was at this time, in 1995, that Saul began to emerge as a much needed voice in America with his spoken word and poetry, keeping New York City coffee house audiences captivated, hanging on every emotionally-charged, politically-sharp word.

He is the author of three collections of poetry: ,said the shotgun to the head. (2003 MTV Books/Simon and Schuster), She (1999 MTV Books/Simon and Schuster), and The Seventh Octave (1997 Moore Black Press). His writings have appeared in several anthologies and periodicals such as Catch the Fire, and The New York Times respectively.

Having defined and redefined poetry as an accessible, living art form,  his groundbreaking work as a writer and actor in the film, Slam (Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize ’98; Cannes’ Camera D’Or ’98), garnered him a substantial amount of notoriety and placed him in the limelight as the figurehead for a new generation of poets, spoken word artists and actors.

In the music world, Saul made noise with some tracks in the mid to late 90’s on the Eargasm and Lyricist Lounge compilations, to name a few. The songs he released during this time period were grounded in hip-hop but were a far cry from the traditional rap that was gaining popularity at the time.

He released 2001’s Amethyst Rockstar, which was co-produced by Rick Rubin and won him critical acclaim all over the world (including The Times Best Album of the Year). Bridging the terrain between the lyrical force of hip hop and the power of raw rock n roll, he has toured with artists from Blackalicious, to Cursive and The Mars Volta.

Wichita released his eponymous album in 2005. As Saul explains “The tracks range from politics to relationships, and the politics of relationships. What I ended up with was something that captured the authoritative cool of hip-hop, the playful angst of rock & roll, the raw, emotional torment of emo – and, my favorite, “screamo” – and the fuck-offness of punk. Musically, if I had to categorize the album, I think I’d call it industrial punk-hop”. An endlessly dynamic, technicolour album, it was a stunning achievement from someone who has already accomplished so much.