Synopses & Reviews
In the underground labyrinths of New York City's subway system, beneath the third rail of a long forgotten line, Saul Williams discovered scrolls of aged yellowish-brown paper rolled tightly into a can of spray paint. His quest to decipher this mystical ancient text resulted in a primal understanding of the power hip-hop has to teach us about ourselves and the universe around us.
Now, for the first time, Saul Williams shares with the world the wonder revealed to him by the Dead Emcee Scrolls.
I have paraded as a poet for years now. In the proc ess of parading I may have actually become one, but that's another story, another book. This book is a book that I have been waiting to finish since 1995. This is the book that finished me. The story I am about to tell may sound fantastic. It may anger some of you who have followed my work. You may feel that you have come to know me over the years, and in some cases you have, but in others...well, this is a confession.
"Williams is not the first to take hip-hop diction and rhyme to the page and make beautiful stanzaic poetry (see everyone from Gil Scott-Heron to Thomas Sayers Ellis), but he creates, in this third book, a kind of 'In Memorium' for hip-hop's redemptive promise, trying, as Tennyson did, to find light shining through the wreckage of hope. If this effort falls short of that great poem, the ambition behind it is not the less for it. Skip the self-mythologizing intro and launch right into the long opening serial poem, 'NGH WHT': 'BCH NGH. Gun trigga. Dick's bigga. Why/ fuck? Killer. Blood spiller. Mack/ truck. Bad luck, fuckin with this black buck./ Bigger Thomas, I promise. Leave a corpse in/ the furnace.' The sly way in which the speaker simultaneously inhabits and repudiates male rap clichs and effects sonic sneak attacks (one hears 'kill her' in 'killer') gets worked out over 33 'chapters' of anywhere from three to 10 stanzas, giving a fierce, assured tour of hip-hop history and contradiction. There are six other, shorter serial poems, and the book's last third consists of verse 'Journal Entries.' Williams, who starred in Slam, has authored two previous books, s/he and said the shotgun to the head; both are uneven and contain long, ambitious pieces, but neither has a poem like 'NGH WHT.' (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Saul is every kind of great artist combined into one." -- Nas
"A profound poet who inspires us. He challenges us to be individuals." -- Russell Simmons
This collection of hip hop poetry, commentary and essays by Saul Williams is presented in a fictionalized context, as if the author has "discovered" ancient texts and now must spread the news of them to the world. A serious collection of his brilliant and provocative work, but with an underlying sly humor, THE DEAD EMCEE SCROLLS is at once a spoof (a satirical take on hip hop) and intense commentary on our existential search for peace.This collection of hip hop poetry, commentary and essays by Saul Williams is presented in a fictionalized context, as if the author has "discovered" ancient texts and now must spread the news of them to the world. A serious collection of his brilliant and provocative work, but with an underlying sly humor, THE DEAD EMCEE SCROLLS is at once a spoof (a satirical take on hip hop) and intense commentary on our existential search for peace.
From "astonishing poet" ("The Washington Post") Saul Williams comes a provocative look at the galvanizing force of hip hop. Destined to become one of the most talked-about books of the season, "The Dead Emcee Scrolls" is a darkly humorous, electrifying tour de force.
About the Author
Acclaimed poet and musician Saul Williams’s open-mic escapades with the Nuyorican Poets peaked at Sundance when Slam won the Grand Jury Prize, and the art world celebrated the arrival of a whole new kind of talent. He defied his genre’s precious reputation and tore voraciously into the guts of life, groping after the exalted and transcendent sex sensations that make it all worth living. His early success led to collaborations with the likes of Erykah Badu, Nas, The Roots and Zack de la Rocha, and, descended as much from KRS-One and Public Enemy as Allen Ginsberg and Amiri Baraka; he was a new kind of poet. With each of Williams’s great successes has come abrupt change. He has pinball bounced from Morehouse philosophy scholar to cerebral street sermonizer to breakout indie actor, from hallucinatory hip-hop alchemist to dreadlocked, mohawked rockstar, vibing Nine Inch Nails, scurrying across tones, modes, and media to defy categorization. He has read published poetry volumes to opera house audiences with full orchestral backing. He has contributed to The New York Times, voiced Jean-Michel Basquiat in Downtown 81, and cut records with Rick Rubin and Trent Reznor. Throughout all these chaotic ventures, Saul Williams has been one steady thing: an uncompromising voice determined to tap the adrenaline center of his existence with any tool he can get his hands on. Saul Williams is the author of four books of poetry. He lives in Paris. His website is: SaulWilliams.com.