Arts & CultureCampus & CityNation & World

Saul Williams is bringing his poetic revolution to Edmonton

Saul Williams with k-os
Friday December 11th 7:00 p.m.
Union Hall (6240 99 street)
$25 (unionevents.com)

Saul Williams isn’t waiting for a revolution, because the revolution’s already happening.

“I think revolutionaries need to be fed,” Williams says instead, recounting the story of a woman he once met who takes food to protesters, and the families of victims of police brutality.

“That’s sort of the same thing that I’m trying to do with my poetry — just making sure that those of us who are in some way invested in that rebellious energy, who are a part of or believe in the need for resistance are fed.”

In Saul’s case, that feeding takes many shapes. From movies, to books of poetry, to hip hop, it seems like he does it all, and all well. Most recently, it comes in the shape of MartyrLoserKing.

MartyrLoserKing is both the title of his upcoming album, and the name of it’s protagonist, a hacker living in Burundi. None of this is required knowledge before consuming the album, though.

“You can leave the house in your flip-flops, you don’t need shit” he says. “Everything will come in due time.”

The choice to make MartyrLoserKing a hacker seemed natural in an age of Twitter, WikiLeaks, and Chelsea Manning.

“Some of the most exciting moments in recent times have come as a result of the technology we have access to now, whether that’s filming police or releasing government files … It just made sense for this character to be a hacker, and to be based where he is.”

Williams goes on to explain that Burundi — a country in central Africa — is the place where most of the raw materials for our phones and laptops. This is something we don’t often consider about the devices we use every day.

Combining the technology of our times with the sounds and inspiration he’s picked up traveling the world seems almost like an impossible feat, in a time when the global narrative offered to us is often one of fear and opposition.

“The role of everyone is basically to just do the thing you do well and point it in the direction of overcoming those obstacles,” Saul says.

According to Saul, there’s no doubt that art is something which unifies people and facilitates human connection.

“I’m just using all the tools that everybody else has access to … I’m someone who really truly believes in the power of art as a way of connecting to people wirelessly way before our excitement about our ability to do it with our phones,” he says. “It’s real simple what I’m doing. It’s no different than what a million others have done before me. I’m just writing songs and poems that correspond with the times.”

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