UPDATE: Saul Williams has offered some additional context on the email he shared on Instagram about JAY-Z’s thoughts on economic freedom.
The artist took to Twitter and clarified that the email was not a leak of a personal exchange.
This is not a leak of a personal exchange. The email was fwd’d to me in 2018 w/o a return email & in response to my 2014 breakfast club interview which somehow disappeared from YouTube soon after. I’m always open to public or private dialogue & try not to act in haste or anger.
— Saul Williams (@SaulWilliams) December 3, 2019
“The email was fwd’d to me in 2018 w/o a return email & in response to my 2014 breakfast club interview which somehow disappeared from YouTube soon after. I’m always open to public or private dialogue & try not to act in haste or anger.”
Although the interview isn’t available in its entirety, there is a clip on YouTube from Williams’ Breakfast Club appearance that seems to be what he’s referring to in the tweet. The video finds Williams speaking out against JAY-Z once stating that “I couldn’t help the poor if I was one of them.”
“Thank God Harriet Tubman didn’t think that way, thank God Sojourner Truth didn’t think that way…you need to be one with the people to be a revolutionary. You need to speak directly to the people and undertsand that you don’t need money to win.”
Read the original story below.
The artist shared the email on Instagram and captioned the image with his thoughts on structures of oppression, psychological freedom and more.
Saul Williams recently took to Instagram to call out JAY-Z by sharing an email sent by the rapper. The email includes the rapper’s thoughts on economic freedom, in his caption Williams shares his rebuttal.
The email from JAY-Z read, “Our fight for economic freedom is new, it’s not the same war that Harriet Tubman was fighting. If I used the same ‘weapons’ as them I would be shooting a musket at people with Fully automatic assault rifles.” He went on to share that we should “challenge each other” but be careful that it doesn’t come across as judgment.
Williams expressed his thoughts on economic freedom by sharing the following:
“I wouldn’t characterize our fight for economic freedom as ‘new’. During segregation accumulated black wealth and black-owned business were at a peak. Black newspapers, magazines, schools, record labels… Yet psychological freedom from hard taught capitalism is hard to earn. African billionaires, for example, have brought little relief to the continent of Africa. The seduction of power and the systemic constraints of white supremacy will take more than money to burn.”
Additionally, the artist’s caption further breaks down his thoughts on systemic structures, wealth, and the market economy. He also pointed out that he challenges the messaging through music because he sees art and music as “tools or weaponry” to destroy problematic systems.
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I wouldn’t characterize our fight for economic freedom as “new”. There have been wealthy black Americans in every generation since the 1600’s, and in Africa since forever. During segregation accumulated black wealth and black-owned business were at a peak. Black newspapers, magazines, schools, record labels… Yet psychological freedom from hard taught capitalism is hard to earn. African billionaires, for example, have brought little relief to the continent of Africa. The seduction of power and the systemic constraints of white supremacy will take more than money to burn. The root of the market economy is still almost entirely based on the sourcing of rare minerals where the exploitation of African miners and land is the analogue reality of the our modern-age technological advances. Thus, we push for essentially socialist measures which provide healthcare and education to all. Money can be disappeared, but the lessons you learn along the way are yours to keep. Whether we learn from the streets, schools, in prisons, or by playing the game, it is that hard-earned knowledge that allows us to understand how to spend what we earn in ways that can truly make a difference. Even as we push against the systemic structures in criminal justice, housing, etc. we know that it is not simply a question of money being used against us rather it is the ideology that negates our worth as human beings that seems to justify the constant exploitation of our worth and work. Thus the attack is largely against belief systems, philosophies empowered by money and a corrupted rule of law. Guggenheims, Rockefellers, Fords, Nobels, and the great philanthropists and supporters of the arts are all in recompense of the oil, the factory work, the mining, the weaponry, the staple crops, the plantations… that profit off the design of the system, after which the charitable hand is the only one left to give. I challenge the messaging through music when I feel it supports the system primarily because I see art and music as tools or weaponry that can be used to destroy it. The truth bangs harder. We learn that the more we tell it.
Prior to sharing the detailed Instagram post featuring JAY-Z’s email, Williams posted a short video of an interview. In the clip, he touches on how modern day leaders have been pushing to accumulate massive wealth. He also calls out the rapper’s The Black Album in which he rapped a verse alluding to the inability to help poor people. Later in the video, he digs deep and shares that leaders of the civil rights movement led causes with their vision, not with money.
Take a look at the video below.
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