Thursday, June 5, 2014

Saul Williams calls Tupac 'the American Rimbaud'

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 4:00 PM

With Atlanta director Kenny Leon's Tupac Shakur-inspired musical Holler If Ya Hear Me currently in previews on Broadway, a TV commercial (above) has been released featuring lead Saul Williams and Atlantan Saycon Sengbloh starring opposite Williams.

In a recent interview with the BBC, embedded below, Williams describes Tupac as "the American Rimbaud":

"In the same way that Rimbaud was irreverent in what he wrote about violence and religion and capitalism of his time, and then he stopped writing poetry and moved to Ethiopia and started selling guns and slaves - which is to say that he lived his poetry, so to speak - I think that Pac had a very similar sort of trajectory."

He also talks about why a Tupac-inspired musical took so long to make it to Broadway. The New York Times' Jon Caramanica writes this week about the challenges Todd Kriedler, who wrote the book for the musical, faced in translating the message of a controversial figure like Pac for the typically conservative Broadway audience. According to Kreidler, playwright August Wilson was a fan and the first to introduce Kreidler to Pac's work. Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur and producer Eric Gold also approached Wilson to write the Tupac play before he died in 2005, but he was too busy finishing his award-winning 10-play cycle on African-American life spanning the 20th century at the time.

The musical opens Thurs., June 19 at the Palace Theatre.

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