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Saul Williams is man who can wear many hats: actor, rapper, poet. For Williams, the line was never cut between fields; instead, he was always trying to blend, to collaborate, to draw from one medium to influence another. In third grade, Williams was rapping in Shakespearean English and French — simply because that’s what he was learning in school. By the time he was 16, he was writing one of the first hip hop operas — or “hip hopera”. Williams most recent role sees him taking on the legacy of Tupac Shakur in the Broadway musical, ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’, based on the songs of the legendary MC. The musical doesn’t shy away from tough topics, tackling issues such as gun violence and racism head on — through the lens of a community that fights against outside pressure together, that feels its pains together.
We talked to Williams about the influence Pac had on him, his role in ‘Holler’, rhymes, racism, home grown terrorism, when comes the time to stop “turning the other cheek”, and much more.
Annotated excerpts on Genius.com:
- Excerpt #1, “Assata Shakur”
- Excerpt #2, “Homegrown Terrorists”
- Excerpt #3, “The First Hip Hopera”
- Excerpt #4, “The Run Flow”