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So how's this for a start in life? In 1972, Saul Williams' mom was rushed from a James Brown concert to Albany Memorial Hospital - where her son, Saul Stacey Williams, was born. Whatever Saul heard from the womb that night had a big impact, because just like the godfather of soul, he become an inventor, an innovator, and a tireless source of creative ideas.
Saul was just nine when he first heard the record It's Yours, by T La Rock - an old-school hip hop single that influenced the likes of Public Enemy, Nas, and the Beastie Boys. It inspired Saul to write his first poem, and ultimately set him on the path to become a rhymer. But he had other interests too; he begged his parents to let him audition for 'The Cosby Show.' They said no - but they did agree to pay for acting classes. So Saul majored in drama, eventually earning a Masters degree in Fine Arts. But instead of heading to the theatre he hung out in the coffee houses in New York, where a new slam-poetry scene was unfolding. He made a name for himself as a spoken-word artist, even winning the prestigious Nuyorican Poets Cafe's 'Grand Slam' championship. His work caught the attention of film director Marc Levin, who cast him as the lead in an indie film, 'Slam.' Saul was critically acclaimed for his work, and 'Slam' took home the top prize at Sundance that year. But Saul didn't refocus all his energy in acting. He published books of poetry, contributed to the New York Times, and started recording and releasing music.
His most recent album, 'Volcanic Sunlight,' represents something new for Saul. He says it's his first record that doesn't come from a place of anger.