Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 17th 2008 11:00AM by James Sullivan
'List of Demands,' by Saul WilliamsLike most of Nike's ads, the new 'My Better' spot features the shoe company's trademark heroic images of uncompromising athletes in action. Slam poet and uncategorizable recording artist Saul Williams takes the idea of being uncompromising as seriously as LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers does. He's got a "List of Demands," and his industrial-strength rant, like the star running back, is a natural.
On the cover of his self-titled 2004 album, Williams appears behind the wheel of some kind of apocalyptic armored ice cream truck, looking like he's ready to confront Armageddon by spitting rhymes out the loudspeaker. That's the Saul sound in a nutshell, and it led to his expectations-shattering tour appearances with Nine Inch Nails, which in turn led to Trent Reznor's production of Williams' latest album, 'The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!'
Like the initial release of Radiohead's 'In Rainbows,' 'NiggyTardust!' is available only by download, with a suggested fee of five bucks going directly to the artist. Williams ain't broke; more than 100,000 people have reportedly downloaded the album to date, and almost 30,000 have forked over the fin. But if bypassing the music industry means never having to pay back an advance, it also means foregoing the industry's formidable publicity machine. Which might help explain why the fiercely independent Williams just licensed his song for a Nike commercial. Face time doesn't get much better, even if the actual faces are Tomlinson's and the NBA's Steve Nash's.
When the poet-rapper wails, "We're living hand to mouth," he's not talking about scraping together a career with $5 PayPal deposits: His list of demands -- "Reparations," as the song title parenthetically explains -- is written on the palm of his hand, which he's not afraid to use. "I ball my fist and you're gonna know where I stand," he warns.
In other words: Just Do It.
Listen to the song!
Buy the song on iTunes