BIO The youngest of three children, Williams was born in Newburgh, New York. Attended Newburgh Free Academy for high school, where he would originally write his song “Black Stacey”. After graduating from Morehouse College with a B.A. in acting and philosophy, Williams moved to New York City to earn a Master's Degree at New York University in acting. There, he found himself at the center of the New York cafe poetry scene.
Williams and artist Marcia Jones began their relationship in 1995 as collaborative artists on the Brooklyn performance art and spoken word circuit. Their daughter, Saturn, was born in 1996. His collection of poems S/HE is a series of reflections on the demise of the relationship. Marcial, a visual artist and art professor created the cover artwork for The Seventh Octave, images though-out S/HE in response to Williams, and set designed his 2001 album Amethyst Rock Star. Saturn has recently been performing with her father on his 2008 concert tour.
On his birthday, February 29, 2008, Williams married his girlfriend of five years, the actress Persia White. Williams met White in 2003 when he made a guest appearance on the TV show Girlfriends as a poet named Sivad. White has a daughter named Mecca (1993). On January 17, 2009, White announced via her MySpace blog that she and Williams were no longer together.
By 1995, he had become a talented open mic poet and in 1996 he won the title of Nuyorican Poets Cafe's Grand Slam Champion. The documentary film SlamNation follows Williams and the other members of the 1996 Nuyorican Poets Slam team (Beau Sia, Mums da Schemer and Jessica Care Moore) as they compete in the 1996 National Poetry Slam held in Portland, Oregon.
The following year, Williams landed the lead role in the 1998 feature film Slam. Williams served as both a writer and actor on the film, which would win both the Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Camera D'Or (Golden Camera) and serve to introduce Williams to international audiences.
Williams was at this time breaking into music. He had performed with such artists as Nas, The Fugees, Christian Alvarez, Blackalicious, Erykah Badu, KRS-One, Zack De La Rocha, De La Soul, and DJ Krust, as well as legendary poets Allen Ginsberg and Sonia Sanchez. After releasing a string of EPs, in 2001 he released the much-hyped Amethyst Rock Star with producer Rick Rubin and in September 2004 his self-titled album to much acclaim. He played several shows supporting Nine Inch Nails on their European tour in summer 2005, and has also supported The Mars Volta.
Williams was also invited to the Lollapalooza music festival in Summer 2005. The Chicago stage allowed Williams to attract a wider audience. He also appeared on NIN's album Year Zero, and supported the group on their 2006 North American tour. On the tour Williams announced that Trent Reznor would co-produce his next album.
This collaboration resulted in 2007's The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!. This album was available only at the website niggytardust.com until a physical CD of the album was issued. The physical release included new tracks and extended album artwork. The first 100,000 customers on the website had the option to download a free lower-quality audio version of the album. The other option was for users to pay $5 to support the artist directly and be given the choice of downloading the higher-quality MP3 version or the lossless FLAC version. The material has been produced by Trent Reznor and mixed by Alan Moulder. It was Reznor who said that, after his own recent dealings with record labels, they should release it independently and directly.
As a writer, Williams has been published in The New York Times, Esquire, Bomb Magazine and African Voices, as well as having released four collections of poetry. As a poet and musician, Williams has toured and lectured across the world, appearing at many universities and colleges. In his interview in the book, Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, Williams explained why he creates within so many genres, saying:
It's not that I balance [those arts] out, all the different arts balance me out. So, that there is a certain type of emotion that is more easily accessible through music than poetry... Some things are meant to be written, some are meant to be sung, some things are meant to be hummed, some things are made to be yelled, and so that's just how life works.
Williams is a vocal critic of the Bush administration, the War on Terrorism, and the Iraq War; among his better-known works are the anti-war anthems "Not In My Name" and "Act III Scene 2 (Shakespeare)". In early 2008, a Nike Sparq Training commercial featured Williams' song "List of Demands (Reparations)".
In January 2009, Williams released "NGH WHT - The Dead Emcee Scrolls with The Arditti Quartet", a reading of his 2006 poetry book of the same name. This collaboration with Thomas Kessler (who also set ,said the shotgun to the head to music) is released with two payment options: listeners may download Chapters 18-22 of the 27-minute composition for free (in mp3 format), or for $6, can download the entire 33-chapter composition in lossless aif format, along with the isolated vocal & quartet multitrack stems. The entire paid download totals in size at 563mb.
After moving to Paris, France, Saul Williams released fourth studio album, Volcanic Sunlight, in 2011.
* Downtown 81 (voice) (1981/2000)
* Underground Voices (1996)
* Slam (1998)
* SlamNation (1998)
* I'll Make Me a World (1999)
* King Of The Korner (2000)
* K-PAX (2001)
* The N Word (2004)
* Lackawanna Blues (2005)
* New York, I Love You (2009)