Friday, December 31, 2010

Saul Williams' Got a List of Demands...

Just finished re-reading Saul Williams' groundbreaking work, The Dead Emcee Scrolls. I first saw Saul Williams live at UW's Kane Hall when I was a wee freshman, having no idea of what a poetic firestorm I was about to witness.

Williams' poetry can best be described as a tongue-lashing, luscious harmony of hip-hop Zulu NYC Afrocentricity. He is also the only artist who is commercially successful as a slam poet and hip hop star. For more of a sampling of his poetic beats set to rap music, check out his hit single, "List of Demands." It was used as the soundtrack to a Nike commercial several years ago. Can you top that, Sherman Alexie? I think not...

My favorite quotes from Dead Emcee Scrolls could go on for days...suffice it to say his writing packs a punch!

Let me mold a guitar of your bodily bazaar. Strap your tongue, chord your lungs, string your toes. And bows that precede the rain shall serpent symphonies in your name.
Mother of countless daughters. The tricks of time. It is your thrust and grind that defines us. We are the offspring of your decapitated head. The bastard sons of Father Time.

Dance. Even when your feet hurt. Dance like the fires of hell are upon you and you’re dodging every flame. 

Dance when it tastes good. Dance when the spirit moves you.
Dance because you feel it and you don’t have to be taught how to count, how to step and slide, how to twirl and jump and land on a good foot before taking off to fly,
NGH, dance. Dance, nigger. Paint your faces. Shine your shoes. Pop that collar. Shake it. Wind it. Kick fight scratch rip kill BREAK.
Neck back jump back kiss BREAK. Uprock freeze pop lock BREAK. Don’t stop don’t stop snap BREAK.
Into ferocious song and dance. Calculated movement. Gestures of prayer and invocation. Dance. Your life depends on it.
Cakewalk. Lindy. Charleston. Mashed potatoes. Camel walk. Hot pants. Hustle. Electric boogaloo. Patty Duke. Steve Martin. Pee-wee Herman. Prep. Wop. Rooftop. Cabbage Patch. Chickenhead. Ragtop. Wobble. Crump. Snake. BREAK! 

Not until you listen to Rakim on a rocky mountaintop have you heard hip-hop. Extract the urban element that created it and let an open wide countryside illustrate it.
The trains and planes could corrupt and obstruct your planes of thought so that you forget how to walk through the woods which ain’t good cause if you never walked through the trees listening to Nobody Beats The Biz then you ain’t never heard hip-hop.
And you don’t stop. And you don’t stop. And you must stop letting cities define you. Confine you to that which is brick and cement. We are not a hard people. Our domes have been crowned with the likes of steeples.
The wind plays the world like an instrument. Blows through trees like flutes. But trees won’t grow in cement. And as heart beats bring percussion fallen trees bring repercussions. Cities play upon our souls like broken drums.
We drum the essence of creation from city slums. But city slums mute our drums and our drums become humdrum cause city slums have never been where our drums were from.
Just the place where our daughters and sons become offbeat heartbeats. Slaves to city streets. Where hearts get broken when heartbeats stop. Broken heartbeats become break-beats for NGHs to rhyme on top.
Cop car swerves to the side of the road. Hip-hop takes its last breath. The cop scrawls vernacular manslaughter onto his yellow pad, then balls the paper into his hands, deciding he’d rather freestyle. 
You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to remain silent. And maybe you should have before your bullshit manifested.
Song is the invitation from the primordial unseen to become one with that which is seen. To nod your head is to agree that the moment is godly: communion. To dance is to become God. There are many ways of dancing. Follow your heart.
The buck and gully. The native son. Bigger and Deffer. The freshest one. The sewed-in creases. The flavored twills. The confidence snorted through dollar bills.
The “Fuck I care for?” The boldfaced lie. The been there and done that. The do or die. The dirty dirty. The filthy clean. Thugged out and nerdy. No in between. The blackest berry. The sweetest juice. That complex NGH born of simple truth.
A wealth of violence. A violent wealth. You caught up, NGH, better watch your health, the beat is dope though. The junkie nod. The use of breakbeats to beat the odds.
God and pussy. Objects of desire and ill repute. Some’d rather seek up high than dig and grind that inner truth. The angel of my eye a bit too fly to substitute with any other form than the messiah’s.
Shower me with blessings. No second-guessing. ‘Cause God, herself, is sitting on the edge of my bed, slowly undressing. A night symbolic as the resurrection. I’m about to slide up in the kingdom of God with no protection.
And I can hear a second coming. ‘Cause I already hear the drummer boy barumpumpum pumming. A host of angles look at me through your eyes. My first communion with my hands on your thighs. You’re catching the spirit, the Holy Ghost and the fire. Yo, this is wild.
I’m every Jay-Z album played in reverse. I’m risen from blunt ash and stashed in a purse. I’m smuggled over borders, contraband, ‘though I rock. I paper. I scissor. Nah, NGH, no Glock.
Pay me cash. Simply ‘cause what money means to you. Your currency has currently devalued what is true. When freedom rings through costly bling, it’s overdrawn, past due. The bankroll of an empty soul kept vaulted. Code and clues:
NGH WHT, I represent the truth you claim to be. The hero of the eastern sky, the storm’s eye, westerly. Rough, rugged, raw, eternal law recited over beats. Some poetry to oversee the dance floor and the streets.
Your evolution stopped with the evolution of your technology. A society of automatic tellers and money machines. NGH WHT? My culture is lima beans. Dreams manifest. Dreams real. Not consistent with the rational.
I dance for no reason. For reason you can’t dance. Caught in the inactiveness of intellectualized circumstance. You can’t learn my steps until you unlearn your thoughts. Spirit/soul can’t be store bought. Fuck thought. It leads to naught. Simply stated, it leads to you trying to figure me out.
Your intellect is 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 ax or a drill, in a white house on a hill, or in factories or plants made of steel. 

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