The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust(2007, Self Release)
Verdict = Groundbreaking
Saul Williams is the most evocative lyricist in modern hip hop. There is really no one on the landscape of emcees that is as powerful a wordsmith in my mind. This has been always been the case for me. Ever since the release of his debut album, Amethyst Rock Star, it was clear that Williams was a whole different animal. On his third album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, Williams continues to turn heads with his own brand of socially conscious, artistically progressive work. Teaming with Trent Reznor this time round, Niggy Tardust is produced impeccably. Somehow Williams and Reznor have created a perfect set of harrowing Frankenstein beats that are impossible to not nod to. As Tardust, Williams’ is as provocative a vocalist as ever, refusing to be pin holed to any one style. While overall this works in his favor, there are a few stutter steps here and there that will keep Niggy Tardust from demanding the same reverence that his previous albums have garnered. Still, Saul Williams continues to rise head and shoulders above the crowd. In addition to being on the forefront of the landscape lyrically and musically, The Inevitable Rise and Fall of Niggy Tardust puts In Rainbows distribution plan to shame. Removing the safety net of a physical release that Radiohead provided themselves, Saul Williams has decided to release one of the most fantastic hip hop albums of 2007 as an internet only release. Available for $5 or absolutely free, Williams has chosen to bravely test the distribution method that Radiohead dipped their toes into before allowing their record companies to sell it as plastic and wax. On all levels of integrity, Williams’ record is more than worth the meager $5 asking price. Oh, and this would all feel completely inadequate if I didn’t mention that Williams’ cover of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” completely dusts the original and is the highlight of an already great album.