Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Weight - Birthday Countdown: 9 Days

We're now into the single digits of this two-week countdown to the first anniversary of the beginnings of The Weight. And on this cold, cold Sunday evening after two hard fought battles on the gridiron, I am offering Saul Williams' take on U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Saul is a 35-year old actor/poet/writer/singer and his talents have led him to be associated with such diverse figures as poet Allen Ginsberg, producer Rick Rubin, singer Erykah Badu, and rapper KRS-One.

In September 2004, he released his self-titled album to much acclaim. He played several shows supporting Nine Inch Nails on their European tour in summer 2005. And he also supported NIN on their 2006 North American tour, during which he announced that Trent Reznor would co-produce his next album.

On November 1st, 2007, Saul released that album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, working with producer Trent Reznor. Many of the album's lyrics were adapted from poetry in Williams' 2006 book 'The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop'. Within mere weeks of Radiohead's In Rainbows 'pay as much as you want' plan, the album was released solely online at and downloaders were given the opportunity to either pay nothing for MP3 or FLAC files or pay $5. Trent Reznor promoted the album on his own band's and according to statistics published there, as of January 2, 2008, 154,449 people had chosen to download Niggy Tardust. Of that number, 28,322 people chose to pay the asking price of $5.00. In my mind, that is not a very good ratio of paying customers, but it's hard to say how many albums Saul would have sold without this promotion. So maybe, it worked out better than expected financially. And now, Saul Williams has the opportunity to gain a significant number of new fans. Far more than would have ever heard his album with traditional promotion and distribution.

Released as a single just last week, his cover of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday," with trademark industrial production from Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, is both intense and aggressive, much like the original. But sonically, they are worlds apart.

In an interview with Saul about working with Reznor, he states, "Some of the tracks he gave me took me to places emotionally, sometimes dark or sometimes new, that I have never been to. It was frightening to me. Working on one song, I was afraid because I was venturing into a place that could make me cry nonstop, and I felt so far from home, so far from hip-hop."

Check it out here:

>Saul Williams - Sunday Bloody Sunday

1 comment:

WeightStaff said...

What a crazy fascinating cover. I feel like I'm listening to Prodigy back in the 90's. This version finds the creaks, blips, and cracks of the original and fills them with industrial superglue. The melody is replaced with buzzsaws, whines, and groans yet the drums remain. Really an insanely original and genius take.