Volcanic Sunlight by Saul Williams

Some listen to music to reinforce a mood, an idea of a time/place, to embody a mind-state, a lightness, to sharpen or dull an edge. I make music to jump off of that edge and explore.

I’ve been exploring since birth, whether wandering through the woods as a child, through the streets of NY as a teenager, backpacking through South and Central America, India, Africa, touring and performing in over thirty countries around the world and taking advantage of every minute offstage to wander, observe, get lost… I’ve seen a lot. And through it all, one thing remains super clear: people are beautiful. They may not always be well educated, well paid, or informed of the world that exists beyond their doorstep, but I’ve landed on many doorsteps and have been welcomed in way more than I’ve ever been turned away. I’ve been fed by strangers, I could not use words to communicate with, whose cupboards were not overflowing with food. I’ve been given beds and floors to sleep on by people who did not know me from Adam… Don’t believe the hype- the outside world, that many of us have been taught to fear, is filled with more love than anything else. Yes, there is ignorance. Yes, there is violence. Yes there is greed and crime. But there is something beneath all of that, and it has been fighting it’s way through all cultural variations and traditions, norms and differences. And that thing, that force, that common ground, and the energy that transforms, is what I call

Volcanic Sunlight.

Nowadays, I look at the news, browsing the net, and, subsequently, learn what songs, videos, movies, books are popular in compare/contrast with what’s in the news, with what’s going on- and to be honest- I’m often dumbfounded and left with the question of “What the hell am I trying to do?”. “Exactly what world do I expect to fit into with these sounds, these thoughts, and sentiments?”. I feel alone, stupid, caught in some absurd elitist riddle where the answer is found scratched into the wood of some old unknown blues musicians’ guitar. “Who the fuck cares?”, is what I ask myself. “Who am I fooling?”. It’s not that I don’t like what’s out there. I like and love a lot of it. I just don’t always feel like I fit in.

When you talk to record execs, they want to be able to see exactly where you’ll fit into the commercial playing field. They want to be able to envision your song being played between Kanye and Drake on the radio. They want to be able to easily locate your audience. I’m pretty certain that much of my audience is out occupying cities across the world, protesting against corporate giants, squatting in city parks, following the same compulsion that led many to poetry slams and readings some years back; to raves, hip-hop, and punk rock shows, when music was more counter-culture than over-the-counter culture. All those seeds that were planted, the voices unlocked, the envisionment of the world that is possible and the pledge to make it real, are all coming full circle now.

Every morning

I rise and face

the firing squad.

Every morning

there is one

who holds

his fire.

His dilemma

is my system

of belief.

They fire rounds

but I am seldom

in their circle.

A quiet mind

is labeled ‘sound’

and colored purple.

My little boy

has not yet learned

to color within lines.

His jumbled diction

has not yet learned

our contradiction.

We speak of art

with flaming passion

and then do work

void of compassion

and wonder why


is bleeding fiction.

Volcanic Sunlight is my contribution to the times. It is my way of sharing that through all the necessary fighting for change behind, ahead, and within us, I have found it most helpful to think of it as a dance. I danced through a lot of bullshit (and fun shit) in order to get here… (don’t forget the fun shit!). Yeah, it’s been fun. Hella fun (415/510). And, honestly, I ain’t really trying to fit in. (See: Talk To Strangers). But I’ve decided to sell my album to you, this time. As if to say, here is my idea of a ‘product’ that, I hope you will consider, worth more than it’s asking price. As if to say, “invest in alternative energy”. ‘Cause, basically, that’s how I think of Volcanic Sunlight: as an alternative form of energy. Something a bit more conscious of it’s global imprint that whole cities, and possibly, new worlds, or, at least, new thoughts, can run on. My intention is for it to serve as a generator, a power source, that remembers the beauty of it’s engine as it serves to transform the system.

And I would like to give a special shout out to all of the youth and people around the world that have somehow chosen this year to stand and demand the civil liberties, equality, and socio-political justice, and transparency, that should be afforded to all, in all lands. Your rising voice and actions have supplied more than slogans. You are who every poem was written for. And you are the chorus to the anthem of our times. Thank you.

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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