The year is 2001. The setting is Kingston, Ontario, a beautiful old town with bitterly cold winters and chilling winds, located at the tip of Lake Ontario.
Your author, a 19 year old first year student, is tucked away in a small dorm room on the 6th floor of Vic Hall. It’s the beginning of the self discovery period of his life and the soundtrack is powered by an ethernet connection and #DSP on IRC.
Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, El-P, Sunny Day Real Estate, and the like made management of the 4 gb hd difficult.
Songs appeared. Life happened.
One day Saul Williams made an appearance, receiving a cautious greeting. The album, Amethyst Rock Star, was hard to define. Was it spoken word? Was it rap? Was it rock? Whatever it was, it was intense. It challenged. It pushed. And it advanced.
One song in particular resonated. Wine.
This year Saul Williams reentered my life. An album produced by Trent Reznor and released under a pay-what-you-want model, it was clear that Williams continued to advance. Art forms, business models, and trains of thought.
Williams and Reznor did an exceptional job with the album and it delivers strongest when listened to in its entirety. Here’s Raise to be Lowered, a rallying song (“To through away the pen and pad and simply be the poem”) that gives you a good taste of what Williams is about and my 10th top song of the year.