Text in an indecipherable code scrolls across a black screen, for what seems like days. The characters stack upon each other, and grow brighter until the blinding light swallows your vision. You don’t gain feeling in your physical body until the light fades, revealing a colossal bookcase towering over you. You struggle to stand, and walk towards the books. Before your hand reaches a volume, the shelves are consumed by fire. A hooded man stands behind it . . .
We need those artists that care for the well-being of others, the ones that utilize their chosen medium as a soapbox to project the things that actually matter. They possess the rare opportunity to serve as a voice for the voiceless, and no genre houses more artists of this lauded caliber than hip-hop. MartyrLoserKing is the newest full-length by musician, poet, writer, actor, and activist Saul Williams, a man of, by, and for the people.
These songs are expansive concoctions of hip-hop, dance music, rock, and punk. The artist dives in and out of these genres with finesse, and flavors from each are frequently mixed with wonderfully perplexing results. Williams is as versatile as they come, and he indulges in his experimental tendencies by adopting many different voices and lyrical flows, while producer Justin Warfield fleshes out worlds both futuristic and primitive.
The words that ride atop the rollicking instrumentals are often cryptic, stream-of-consciousness barrages that slice with sharp significance. Williams infuses these universal messages into a fictional narrative about an African miner-turned-hacker with the screen name “MartyrLoserKing.” This is an important record, and one that takes excavating. If you’re seeking potent, experimental hip-hop, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)