Saul Williams Speaks About New Album and How to Remain Subversive

Socially-conscious hip-hop has been an important theme since the genre's infant years, but actor/poet/rapper Saul William's industrial slam poet's approach to social injustice has the ability to rise above mere proselytizing.

His third full-length, 2007's The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! (produced by NIN's Trent Reznor) was a messianic concept album that presented a "ghetto gothic millionaire, a super duper star," who calls a new generation up to fight the powers that be. But even earlier, "Black Stacey," from Saul's self-titled sophomore release, was a call to action that came well before the melodrama of Drake and the brutal honesty of Kendrick Lamar. If you want to help rewrite the way hip-hop is dedicated, it helps to have a list of demands.

But given Williams' lead roles in the film Slam and Holler If Ya Hear Me, (a Broadway musical featuring music by Tupac), or all the poetry Saul writes, it's obvious the man has many talents. We called him up in New York to discuss everything from Alan Turing, the role of the arts, police brutality and Williams' upcoming fourth album, Martyr Loser King, about a hacker from Burundi.