Our current KEXP Documentary series is Poets & Music, with profiles on writers who record verse with musical collaborators. Saul Williams wrote his first poem and read it in 1995 at a place called the Brooklyn Moon Cafe. This poem “Amethyst Rocks” was so impressive that immediately after he read he got offers to open up for a whole bunch of shows: Allen Ginsberg, Gil Scott-Heron, The Fugees and The Roots. This poem also won him a leading role in the movie Slam, a film that helped put Saul and his style of urban poetry on the popular culture map.
What I got, come and get some,
get on up, hustler of culture.
I stand on the corner of the block slinging amethyst rocks,
drinking 40s of mother earth’s private nectar stock,
dodging cops, cuz’ 50 be the 666 and I need a fix of that purple rain:
the type of shit that drives membranes insane.
Oh yeah, I’m in the fast lane snorting candy yams
that free my body and soul and send me like Shazaam,
never question who I am. God knows, and I know God personally,
in fact he lets me call him “me”...
I am Horus, son of Isis, son of Osirus, worshipped as Jesus,
resurrected like Lazarus, but you can call my Lazzy, lazy,
yeah I’m lazy because I’d rather sit and build
and work on top of a field and worship the
daily yield of cash green crops,
your evolution stopped the evolution of your technology:
a society of automatic tellers and money machines.
Nigga’ what, my culture is lima beans and tambourines,
dreams, manifest dreams real, not consistent with rationale,
I dance for no reason, for reason you can’t dance,
call me an activist of intellectualized circumstance,
you can’t learn my steps until you unlearn your thoughts,
spirit, soul, can be store-bought, fuck thought,
leads to naught, simply leads to you trying to figure me out,
your intellect’s disfiguring your soul,
your being’s not whole, check your flagpole,
stars and stripes, your astrology’s
imprisoned by your concept of white, of self,
what’s your plan for spiritual health? Calling reality unreal,
your line of thought is tangled, the star
spangled got your soul mangled, your being’s angled,
forbidding you to be real and feel, you can’t find truth
with an axe or a drill in a white house on a hill or
in factories or plants made of steel. Selling us was the
smartest thing you ever did, too bad you don’t teach the
truth to your kids. My influence on user reflection you
see when you look in your minstrel mirror and talk about
your culture, your existence is that of a schizophrenic
vulture who thinks he has enough life in him to prey on the dead,
not knowing that the dead ain’t dead, that he ain’t got enough
spirituality to know how to pray. Yeah, there’s no repentance,
you’re bound to live in infinite consecutive executive life sentence.
So while you’re busy serving time I’ll be in sync with the
moon while you run from the sun. Life of the moon,
reflected by guns, worship of moons, I am the sun,
and I am public enemy number one, one one one, one one one,
that’s seven. And I’ll be out on the block, hustling culture,
slinging amethyst rocks.
Since then Saul Williams has put out 7 of his own releases. He’s toured and recorded with Nine Inch Nails. Collaborated with Janelle Monae, Rage Against the Machine, Badu, Lyrics Born, Blackalicious, Coldcut and De La Soul. Saul’s poems ride the tension between intensely personal details and universal struggles.
Saul Williams’ 2011 release, Volcanic Sunlight, is coming out soon. The first single is “Explain My Heart”:
KEXP Documentaries are created by Michele Myers with assistance from John Felthous, Tiffany Grobelski, Mary Janisch and Executive Producer Kevin Cole. If you would like to follow along more closely in the creation of these radio stories, we post research materials, songs and videos on our Facebook page and on Twitter.