The Plug One 2000s: Saul Williams, “The Rise And Liberation Of NiggyTardust!”

93. Saul Williams, The Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!
Fader Label
Released October 31, 2007

Produced by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, The Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! was a noisy salute and vicious satire of black culture, identity, contradiction and stereotype. “Tr(n)igger” collapsed upon a snippet of Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrordome,” specifically the line where Chuck D. notes Huey Newton’s assassination “by the hands of a nigger pulled the trigger.” “Banged and Blown Through” had a jackhammer beat, and Williams sang of being a “broken instrument” looking for inspiration.

Originating as a free download posted on Halloween, just like Radiohead’s infamous In Rainbows, NiggyTardust caught listeners by surprise. (Fader Label gave it an official release in 2008.) Critics scrambled to assess this complex, difficult album, and their haste led to some equivocal notices. NiggyTardust is power-packed with ideas, and it can be a chore to pick through the morass. But it rewards repeated listens. One line from the title track rang particularly true: “Hardly nervous, suffice to say he understands his purpose/Threshold king of everything/A comical absurdist.”

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