This Just In: MartyrLoserKing

I got turned on to Saul Williams in 2002 while trading hip-hop mixes with a friend of a friend. I showed him Aesop Rock, he showed me Saul. I’ve always liked hip-hop that’s strictly political, abstract/experimental, positive, or any combination of the aforementioned. Bonus points if there is a total lack of misogyny, which, let’s face it, is hard to come by in a lot of hip-hop and rap. Saul Williams embodies all the things I love about hip-hop and definitely doesn’t even tread near the thing I hate. All of his albums are conceptual, character driven, intelligent, sonically diverse, and always manage to cleverly capture/critique the sign(s) of the time(s). His latest, MartyrLoserKing is no exception. Even if you’ve never heard Williams’ music before, this is a perfect entry point. Work backwards, sideways, inside-out, and you can’t go wrong. More about the album and an in-stock list below! -MLE

Saul Williams – MartyrLoserKing LP
Listen/Watch: “Burundi (feat. Emily Kokal of Warpaint)”
“If there is one phrase that captures the overall mood and attitude of Saul Williams‘ latest album, MartyrLoserKing, it’s ‘F*** you. Understand me.’ The refrain, from the song entitled ‘All Coltrane Solos At Once,’ is both a defiant middle finger raised to humanity’s oppressors and an empathetic hand extended to those who are oppressed (including the unwitting and unwilling agents of oppression).

Saul Williams is a poet, actor, activist, writer and musician who engages each of these forms equally, with both aggression and compassion. He is a man deeply concerned with the people’s well-being and it shows in his work. From the moment Williams made his musical debut with 2001’s Rick Rubin-produced Amethyst Rockstar, his songs — like his poetry — have been infused with social and political commentary. Whether examining the world around him or the emotional universe within himself, he is an artist who seeks truth through transgression. Instead of accepting the status quo he is a music-genre agnostic who ponders and wanders. Williams’ work is an amalgam of hip-hop, punk, dance music and rock, shifting between styles as effortlessly as it weaves webs of interconnected ideas.

Previously, adept and challenge-hungry producers like Rubin and Trent Reznor (2007’s The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!) have matched his words — sung, shouted, rapped — with complementary soundscapes. This time around, the job is taken up by Justin Warfield, a music industry rover whose own two decades-plus resume includes leftfield hip-hop hits (1991’s ‘Season of the Vic’), big beat electronica collabos (‘Big Powder Dust’ with acid-house originals, Bomb the Bass) and mainstream industrial rock (She Wants Revenge); the veteran producer helps Williams flesh out a sonic world that’s simultaneously futuristic and primitive. Only music that is as tribal as it is digital could be the proper accompaniment for lyrics inspired by a fictional miner-turned-hacker in the African nation of Burundi with the screen name ‘MartyrLoserKing’ — a ‘Mr. Robot’ in the Motherland, if you will.

‘Statues of martyrs. Hackers as artists…’ Williams spits these lines in a stream-of-consciousness barrage over the whirling arpeggio piano loop of ‘Horn of the Clock-Bike.’ His likening of hackers and artists is a recurring theme throughout the album. On ‘The Bear _ Coltan as Cotton’ Williams’ takes the definition of hacking beyond computer systems, applying it to the disruption of social constructs like gender and race and challenging the authority of the powers that be. His middle finger remains aloft on the 4/4 rhythm of ‘Ashes’ where he sings about ‘dancing on the corpse’s ashes’ and observes: ‘The wall between the poor and the rich, building/ Gorgeous for the po-lice/ Worth a billion/ They make a killing/ They make a killing!/ Protect and serve/ Your bullets won’t deliver the Last Word.’ For Wiliams, the last word will be truth spoken to power — not by power.” -NPR

13th Floor Elevators – Psychedelic Sound LP
Adele – 21 LP, 25 LP
Adrian Younge Presents – Venice Dawn: Something About April II LP
Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope LP
Al Green – Explores Your Mind LP
Arca – Xen LP
Arcade Fire – Funeral LP
Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare LP
Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me 2LP
Badbadnotgood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul LP+CD
Baroness – Purple LP
Basic Channel – Lyot Rmx 12”
Beat Happening – Look Around 2LP
Beatles – Beatles (White Album, Mono) 2LP, Magical Mystery Tour (Mono) LP, Rubber Soul LP
Billie Holiday – Solitude LP
Black Keys – Attack and Release LP, El Camino LP, Magic Potion LP, thickfreakness LP
Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality LP, S/T LP
Black Tusk – Pillars Of Ash LP*
Blind Willie Johnson – Praise God I’m Satisfied LP
Boards Of Canada – Hi Scores 12″
Bloc Party – Hymns 2LP
Bob Marley – Legend (The Best Of) LP
Caribou – Our Love LP
Chet Faker – Thinking In Textures EP 12”
Conan – Revengeance LP*
Crooked Fingers – Bring On The Snakes LP*, S/T LP*
Cypress Hill – S/T LP
Daft Punk – Discovery 2LP
Dangerdoom – The Mouse & The Mask 2LP
Depeche Mode – Exciter 2LP
Dizzy Gillespie – Have Trumpet, Will Excite! LP
Dr. Dre – The Chronic 2LP
Dusty Springfield – Dusty In Memphis LP
Eagles – Hotel California LP, One Of These Nights LP, S/T LP
Elliott Smith – Figure 8 LP
Elvis Presley – S/T LP
Faust – S/T LP
Fennesz – Becs LP
Fever Ray – Fever Ray LP
Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits LP, S/T LP
Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways LP
Frank Sinatra – Songs For Swingin’ Lovers LP
Gang Starr – No More Mr. Nice Guy LP
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach 2LP
Grateful Dead – American Beauty LP, Workingman’s Dead LP
Green Day – Dookie LP, Kerplunk! LP
James Brown – Super Bad LP
John Coltrane – Lush Life LP
Johnny Cash – American Recordings LP, Louisiana Hayride LP
Joni Mitchell – The Hissing Of Summer Lawns LP
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly 2LP
Kenny Dorham – Afro-Cuban LP
King Curtis – Plays The Great Memphis Hits LP
King Tubby – Controls LP, Crazy Bald Head Dub LP, Dub From The Roots LP, Explosive Dub LP
KMD – Black Bastards 2LP
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die LP, Paradise LP
Led Zeppelin – Houses Of The Holy LP, II LP, Led Zeppelin IV LP, S/T LP
Lee Perry – Dub Treasures From The Black Ark LP
Little Dragon – S/T LP
Lou Reed – Rock N Roll Animal LP, Transformer LP
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming 2LP
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On LP, What’s Going On LP
Mastodon – The Hunter LP
Metallica – Metallica 2LP
MF Doom – Operation Doomsday 2LP
Michael Jackson – Bad 25th Anniversary Picture LP, Thriller 25th Anniversary 2LP
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue LP, Miles Ahead (Mono) LP, Milestones LP
Muddy Waters – Mud In Your Ear LP
N.W.A. – NIGGAZ4LIFE LP, Straight Outta Compton 2LP
Nas – Illmatic LP
Neil Young – After The Gold Rush LP, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere LP
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads 2LP
Night Beats – Who Sold My Generation LP*
Nina Simone – The Amazing Nina Simone LP, It Is Finished LP, The Amazing Nina Simone LP
Ninos Du Brasil – Para Araras 12”*
Ornette Coleman – The Art Of The Improvisers LP
Otis Redding – Dictionary Of Soul LP, Dock Of The Bay (Mono) LP, Otis Blue LP
Outkast – Stankonia 2LP
Patti Smith – Horses LP
Phantogram – Voices LP
Pharcyde – Labcabincalifornia 2LP
Phil Collins – Both Sides (2015 Remaster) 2LP*, Face Value (2015 Remaster) LP*
Phoenix – Alphabetical LP
Queen – News Of The World LP
Radiohead – In Rainbows LP, OK Computer 2LP
RJD2 – Deadringer 2LP
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels I LP, Run The Jewels II 2LP
Sam Cooke – For Always LP, Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964 LP
Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour (Drowning Shadows Ed.) 2LP
Scientist – The Dub Album They Didn’t Want You To Hear LP
Sia – This Is Acting CD
Slayer – Hell Awaits LP
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle LP
St. Lucia – Matter CD*
Stevie Nicks – Crystal Visions 2LP
Sun City Girls – Torch Of The Mystics LP
Sun Ra – Disco 3000 LP
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Let Me Get By 2LP*
The 1975 – S/T 2LP
The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion 2LP
The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 LP
The Meters – Struttin’ LP*
The Neville Brothers – Yellow Moon LP*
The Roots – Organix 2LP
The Smiths – Hatful Of Hollow LP
The Strokes – Room On Fire LP
The Upsetters – Chapter 1 LP
Tool – Lateralus 2LP, Opiate 12″, Undertow 2LP
Van Halen – 1984 LP, S/T LP
Various – Action Beat & Psycho Grooves From The Italian Cinema 2LP
Various – Drop On Down In Florida 2CD+Book
Various – Erotic Vibrations & Bossa Moods From The Italian Cinema 2LP
Various – Goonies OST LP
Various – High Fidelity OST 2LP*
Various – Music From Saharan Cellphones LP
Various – Straight Outta Compton OST 2LP
Various – The Groovy Sounds Of 1970’s Lebanon LP
Various – Turkish Freakout Vol. 1 2LP
Velvet Underground – Scepter Studios Sessions LP, S/T LP
Wilco – Star Wars LP, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 2LP

*Indicates new release or new reissue