Saul Williams returned with a new track today, "Burundi." It's a collaboration with Warpaint's Emily Kokal, who accompanies Williams in close, chanting harmony. The song builds suspense with gloomy strings until a torrent of percussion and an onomatopoeic hook—"I'm a candle: whoosh!"—arrive to ease the tension (slightly). The Kivu Ruhorahoza-directed clip strings together footage from actual protests with scenes of drone strikes and a series of overhead surveillance shots that heighten the feeling of paranoia.
The song turned out to be remarkably prescient. "My goal with MartyrLoserKing was to skim global issues, throw them into my drum machine and see what polyrhythms formed," Williams said in a statement. “Never did I imagine that the release of 'Burundi,' the first song recorded for the album, would coincide with democratic unrest in Burundi as their president attempts to re-write their constitution to run for a 3rd term. My hope is that this song & songs like it give the protesters the fuel they need to overcome over-militarized police & power hungry politicians. I want the politicians, police, and all who stand in the face of democracy with over-zealous self-interest to know that their candle is burning at both ends and that the collective WE will never be silenced and the more they try the more our voices will be heard. The technology of awareness is solar powered and cannot be turned off."
Look for Williams' new album, MartyrLoserKing, on September 18, and watch his performance at FADER FORT below.