Saul Williams Speaks to Soul Train

One of the biggest things to happen to me this year was getting to interview one of the most brilliant minds of our time, Saul Williams. He had a show one night, and I pestered his publicist enough to chat with him earlier that day. The insight he gave was amazing!

The first thing I wanted to talk about was Don Cornelius's sudden passing. I still tremble at how he did it, and Saul seemed to feel the same way. I also noticed in the VH1 special on Soul Train how he was frustrated with the change in the music scene that Cornelius was a guy who liked everything to be the way it always is and life is easiest when things are concrete. Saul touches on ageism when I ask him about Don Cornelius, and while he's right, I feel like Cornelius had much deeper problems than just his age. I hope more is reported on Cornelius and he's not just a historic man we now place RIP in front of. Here's where Saul and I discuss the man of Soul Train:
Soul Train: What was your initial reaction to hearing about Don Cornelius’s passing? 
Saul Williams: It’s the way that he passed that was shocking. For one, it’s not something that is known to be prevalent in our community. And I can only imagine what it’s like to grow older and lose strength, and become frustrated with the times where things aren’t the way they were – that type of ageism that happens often in our country. I think it becomes really hard for old people who are frustrated with how things start to not work for them. It also brings you back to healthcare issues and how we need to get it straight to where everyone is treated fairly, and the people are taken care of, especially psychologically.

When I asked him about how he feels about the music biz now, he gave me quite an earful about how stuck we've become on the concept of celebrity. I always peeped that in how we direct one another's status to Twitter followers, Facebook friends, as well as our circle. Big city Atlanta is notorious for that! The socialite scene can be more about your following than what you actually do. Even beyond that scene - my niece said to me after I asked her what she wants to do when she grows up "I wanna be famous. I don't know what yet, but I'm gonna be famous." I gave the spiel on having and fulfilling a purpose but what 12-year-old wants to hear that? Anyway, off the soapbox I go. Here's an excerpt of what Saul had to say about that topic:
ST: So what about music now, especially in terms of urban alternative music? 
SW: I think we’re at a time now where I look at anyone from Odd Future to Lil’ Wayne to Kanye and Jay-Z, and for the most part people have become more open to new music. But America at-large has established an idea of celebrity. We need to find a way to give the rightful attention to real talent, to people who are exploring. Right now we’re running the risk of having a very formulaic approach to music, to sound, to popularity...
 Check out the rest of the interview over on Soul Train's website!!!

Saidah Baba Talibah's Toronto Sound Off

When I turned this in to, I knew what I was getting myself into. Saidah Baba Talibah and I conversed as if kids are unable to use the Internets. From talking about blues singer Lucille Bogans to screaming and(/or) creaming, Soul Train's Sound Check was never the same. Here's an excerpt of what actually ran:
SBT: Expression is borderless – I express myself one way, and another artist could express themselves another way. At the same time, when it comes to being a woman expressing these types of feelings and being – not aggressive – assertive, knowing what you want, strong and unafraid of vulnerability is not really out there. So I guess that could be raunchy, like just in explaining how I want to please a man or how I want him to please me. We feel like we have to hide that idea behind what it means to be a lady. There are ways to do all of that and still be classy. 
ST: I get it, and there’s even each one’s own interpretation of “classy” and what is a lady. 
SBT: This is why I love old blues artists like Betty Davis. She was raunchy, but she was real in stating her facts of life. Also, there was Lucille Bogan, a blues singer from 1935.  She was even raunchier than Betty Davis, raunchier than anyone I ever heard to this day and age! 
ST: So let me ask: how important is it for you to implement sensuality into your music, and music in general? 
SBT: I think sensuality – not necessarily sex – is very important in everything that I do. In the true form of sensuality – calling on touch, sight, sounds and all those things and bring all the senses together – that’s where I’m coming from. 
ST: How did you develop your music within calling on those senses from The Phone Demos to (S)Cream and so on? 
SBT: Continuing to remind myself to stay as free as possible and to be as real as possible. That’s always the emphasis of where I’m coming from. At least I try to because that can be a little scary. I’m still human. It’s not easy being an artist because everyone has their opinion and capability to judge. 
ST:Toronto music –Canada in general – is nothing to sneeze at. How much of the T-Dot inspires your music? 
SBT: There’s a lot of ridiculous talent, great musicians, great singers on the scene. There’s By Divine Right, Jully Black, Ayah, and a lot of them have branched out and moved but this city is a beast.Toronto can take over the world.
Now that she mentioned it, all those T-Dot artists are dope (including her, I mean, have you heard her music?!). Off the top, By Divine Right is like Toronto's own Radiohead (if only the US had there's - sigh) with their indie kick and their music being vet-like boss status. Jully Black is sassy as shit. No seriously, she has a bold R&B sound that's different than what's typical among other R&B divas, like an over-the-top image isn't necessary to accompany her music. Naturally, fashion is her forte. Ayah, a DJ Jazzy Jeff protege, is Philly soul stuck in Toronto mixed with house, hiphop and whatever else her mind is truly capable of - in fact, a song just dropped she did in collaboration with Slakah The Beatchild called "Keep Up." More heat is sure to follow, I mean, the summer is near!

I'm so glad Saidah hipped me to all these artists. My headphones been on repeat with these folks ever since!

After filling your ears with all that Van Glorious, check out the rest of the interview with Saidah here.