Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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SAUL WILLIAMS
The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!
saulwilliams.com

Trent Reznor-produced alternative hip-hop with an alternative distribution plan

This auspicious collaboration between poet-dancer-actor Saul Williams, a notably independent and militant underground hip-hopper, and Nine Inch Nail Trent Reznor, the rare rock dystopian who has been humanized by success, has many virtues. It showcases two indubitable rebels against oppression both micro (record biz) and macro (cryptofascism). It joins a black performance artist who has a penchant for hard beats to a white studio wizard who specializes in them. And it's downloadable at a suggested five dollars -- or, if you prefer, zero cents. So you have nothing to lose but your processing time to discover that this arresting and intelligent music is less songful than Nine Inch Nails' 2007 Year Zero and less articulate than Williams' 2004 Saul Williams. Inspired above all by Public Enemy, whose "Welcome to the Terrordome" loops obsessively through the beat-y "Tr(n)igger," NiggyTardust! tends to smelt sonics and lyrics into sludge rather than forging an alloy. The metaphor is an overstatement -- more than most soundscapes, the album is full of ideas. But how important these may be is left unclear.

Rolling Stone, Nov. 29, 2007