The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust
Originally published in Second Supper on November 19, 2007
Trent Reznor has produced a rap album. And it’s one of the most exciting things to come into hip-hop in years. Saul Williams, an incredibly talented singer, spoken word performer, and hip-hop artist, has joined forces with Emperor Nine Inch Nails to create a masterpiece which fuses together Williams’ vocal genius with Reznor’s musical brilliance. Electronic schizophrenia and bug-zapper guitars collide into stomping beats, and this album could easily stand on its own as a series of instrumentals. However, Williams adds an inimitable factor to the work, using the weight of his voice to turn these songs into introspections, accusations, and soaring triumphs. Even the cover of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, while strongly faithful to the original’s structure, scratches at the song’s formula with Year Zero psychosis, leading to an unmistakable change of tide.
Like Radiohead, Williams and Reznor have moved around the usual record company route for releasing the album, and it is only available for download on niggytardust.com and various peer-to-peer sites. But however you find this album, find it. I can’t say this strongly enough. Niggy Tardust is one of the most intelligent, insightful, and powerful albums that you’ll hear in ages. If there is any hope left in hip-hop, and in music as a whole, it is on high within Saul Williams.