The Inevitable Rise And Liberation Of NiggyTardust!

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Title page of the included PDF document

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! is an album by Saul Williams, produced and co-written by Trent Reznor. Some of the songs on the album contain modifications of drum beat outtakes from The Fragile and Tapeworm sessions.

Leaks

Due to the distribution method chosen for the album, there were no leaks of the entire album prior to release. However, Trent Reznor and Saul Williams leaked a few songs before releasing it. Reznor leaked the songs "Break" and "Tr(n)igger" via Echoing the Sound, later, a Sendspace link appeared on nin.com making the two tracks plus "Sunday Bloody Sunday" available as a downloadable zip file with lyrics to the songs. A few hours before the release, Saul Williams put "Scared Money" on his MySpace music player. A promotional CDR with instrumentals of fourteen songs surfaced 3.5 years after the release.

Release

The album was released at 1am Eastern Time on November 1st 2007, with the abilty to preorder. People are given the option to either "directly support the artists involved in the creation of this music" by making a $5 donation or to download the album for free. If you choose to pay for the record, you are able to download in 192kbps MP3, 320kbps MP3 or FLAC lossless audio. If you download for free you recieve the album in 192Kbps MP3 format. All versions include a PDF with artwork and lyrics, and "all files are 100% DRM free, and can be played on any device. MP3s are encoded with LAME v3.97 and love". The choice of distribution method garnered much attention and praise from the online community and was reported on by many websites. The number of downloads were not immediately released, with Reznor stating in an interview: "We do know the presale numbers, but we are keeping them a secret." Later, a follow-up revealing the statistics was posted on nin.com on January 3rd 2008 and on January 10th the option to download the album for free was removed, offering the following explanation: "We have removed the FREE option from our site as it was limited to the first 100,000 customers."

On NIN's official MySpace and YouTube pages, a mysterious clip which originally featured on the album website was uploaded with Saul Williams, dressed as NiggyTardust, sitting on a chair. The video was probably uploaded for promotional purposes.

More recently, niggytardust.com, where the album was available for download, has been taken down and redirects to saulwilliams.com. The album's physical release date has been set for July 8th, 2008, and is being released on CD and vinyl, as well as via iTunes, and is to include bonus tracks.

Trent Reznor on NiggyTardust

Reznor wrote the following regarding the album on nin.com:

As many of you know, I've been working closely with Saul Williams on
his new record. We've spent many hours together in hotel rooms,
busses, backstages and studios around the world working on something
we knew was great. This is the most involved I've been with any
project outside NIN since Antichrist Superstar, and I've been
impatiently waiting for the chance for you to hear it.

Well... guess what?

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! has arrived!
After my own recent dealings with record labels we decided to release
it directly to you. Head over to www.niggytardust.com for all the
details. Register now and you can download the record November 1st.
Working on this project was a real pleasure. Saul was interested in
breaking boundaries / crossing genres / defying expectations and we
learned a great deal from one another in the process. When asked about
the sound of the record, I've had to resort to "... I really don't
know HOW to describe it." That's a good thing more than ever these
days.

A word on the way we've chosen to release this.
There are obvious similarities in how Radiohead just released their
new record and the way we've chosen to. After thinking about this way
too much, I feel we've improved upon their idea in a few profound ways
that benefit you, the consumer. You obviously will be the judge of
this in the end. One thing that IS very different in our situation is
that Saul's not the household name (yet!) that Radiohead is, and that
means we need your support on this more than ever. If you like what
you hear, spread the word.

I hope you enjoy the music,

-Trent Reznor

Saul Williams on NiggyTardust

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! is the lovechild
of me and Trent Reznor. I met Trent when he asked me to fill the
opening slot of his European With Teeth tour. After only the 2nd show
he asked if I might be down to collaborate on a song or album,
whatever I saw fit. At the time we were both listening to the
Kanye/Jon Brion collaborations and feeling like a cocktail of our two
worlds would fare even more interesting?and harder. Since then, Trent
Reznor has become the big brother I never had, offering his insight,
expertise, and shared desire to fuck up the system while believing
fully in the power of music and the intelligence of the masses. What
we both first realized we had in common was a deep love of Public
Enemy and their Bomb Squad production, which personally served as the
backdrop of my adolescence and fueled the fire that matured my vision
of the sort of artist I wanted to be. A lot of people get caught up on
my lyrics and poetry, but my writing is always founded on beats and
polyrhythmic backdrops. My background as a dancer (I used to dance for
a rap group in ATL in the early 90s) has always made me crave hard
rhythms. Through Public Enemy I discovered that my ability to dance
somehow improved when I truly felt the power of the words. This album
captures everything I have aimed for in a song. Of course, as a
performer, what truly inspires me is the opportunity to perform them
live. The Niggytardust concept sets me free to do more on stage with
costume, etc. than one might expect from a regular Saul Williams show.
It allows me to put my theatre training to use. I've also thought long
and hard about all the discussion surrounding racial epithets etc. and
chose this title as a means of furthering the dialogue while also
showing how creativity will outlive and outshine hatred of any kind.
 
The album would not have been possible without the collaborative
spirit Trent and the other artists involved: CX Kidtronik and Thavius
Beck brought beats and fire to the vision, energizing the process with
blown amps and head-nodding cramps. Atticus Ross engineered and
programmed. Alan Moulder is sonic testimony from headphone to full
blown that the very rocks will cry out if you work with the right
engineer.

I'm also collaborating with visual artists and designers as part of
the whole NiggyTardust concept and presentation. Melody Ehsani
designed Tardust jewelry, bracelets, rings. necklaces, etc. and also
did the cover layout. Angelbert Metoyer has contributed greatly to the
visual aesthetic with paintings and soon to be finished set design for
the shows.

As far as the way we've decided to release the album, we're aware that
it's pretty risky, but are even more aware that we cant turn to the
so-called powers that be of the industry for answers. Someone has got
to be willing to take chances. I was very inspired by the recent
Radiohead release and felt compelled, almost instantly, to follow my
gut and expand on their concept. Obviously, independent artists have
been around for years. My indie film, Slam was in fact what opened so
many doors for me. yet, the stigma of being an indie artist in the
music world hasn't always been rewarding. This time I feel different.
I feel like the times have conspired to make this album an important
part of history.

- Saul Williams

Track listing

CD
  1. "Black History Month" – 3:15
  2. "Convict Colony" – 3:24
  3. "Tr(n)igger" – 3:54
  4. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" – 4:05
  5. "Break" – 3:18
  6. "NiggyTardust" – 3:40
  7. "DNA" – 4:03
  8. "WTF!" – 5:29
  9. "Scared Money" – 3:49
  10. "Raw" – 2:50
  11. "Skin Of A Drum" – 3:56
  12. "No One Ever Does" – 3:15
  13. "Banged And Blown Through" – 3:43
  14. "Raised To Be Lowered" – 5:23
  15. "The Ritual" – 5:20
  16. "Pedagogue Of Young Gods" (bonus track) - 3:18
  17. "World On Wheels" (bonus track) - 1:27
  18. "Can’t Hide Love" (bonus track) - 2:27
  19. "Gunshots By Computer" (bonus track) - 1:44
  20. "List Of Demands (Reparations)" (bonus track) - 3:18
12" Vinyl

     A1  "Black History Month" – 3:15
     A2  "Convict Colony" – 3:24
     A3  "Tr(n)igger" – 3:54
     A4  "Sunday Bloody Sunday" – 4:05
     A5  "Break" – 3:18

     B1  "NiggyTardust" – 3:40
     B2  "DNA" – 4:03
     B3  "WTF!" – 5:29
     B4  "Scared Money" – 3:49
     B5  "Raw" – 2:50

     C1  "Skin Of A Drum" – 3:56
     C2  "No One Ever Does" – 3:15
     C3  "Banged And Blown Through" – 3:43
     C4  "Raised To Be Lowered" – 5:23
     C5  "The Ritual" – 5:20

     D1  "Pedagogue Of Young Gods" - 3:18
     D2  "World On Wheels" - 1:27
     D3  "Can’t Hide Love" - 2:27
     D4  "Gunshots By Computer" - 1:44
     D5  "List Of Demands (Reparations)" - 3:18

Album Credits

Saul bandpic.jpg
  • Artwork – Angelbert Metoyer
  • Backing Vocals – CX Kidtronik (tracks: 1, 6, 17, 18)
  • Design [Cover] – Melody Ehsani
  • Design [Graphics] – Rob Sheridan
  • Engineer [Additional] – Alan Mason, Brett Bachemin
  • Layout – Kathleen Dragoon
  • Mastered By – Brian "Big Bass" Gardner
  • Mixed By – Alan Moulder
  • Music By – CX Kidtronik (tracks: 2, 6, 8, 14, 17, 18), Saul Williams (tracks: 2, 3, 9, 10, 20), Thavius Beck (tracks: 1, 7), Trent Reznor (tracks: 1, 2, 5 to 8, 10 to 16, 19)
  • Photography By [Gold Dusted Photo] – C.B. Smith
  • Producer – Trent Reznor
  • Programmed By [Additional] – CX Kidtronik (tracks: 6, 7, 14), Saul Williams (tracks: 4, 7), Trent Reznor (tracks: 1, 3, 7)
  • Programmed By, Engineer – Atticus Ross
  • Vocals – Saul Williams
  • Words By – Saul Williams (tracks: 1 to 3, 5 to 17, 19, 20)

Saul follow-up and facts

The following was posted on nin.com on 03 January 2008:

It's a strange time to be an artist in the recording business. It's pretty easy to see what NOT to do
these days, but less obvious to know what's right. As I find myself free from the bloated bureaucracy 
of major labels, finally able to do whatever I want... well, what is that? What is the "right" way to 
release records, treat your music and your audience with respect and attempt to make a living as 
well? I have a number of musician friends who are either in a similar situation or feel they soon
will be, and it's a real source of anxiety and uncertainty.
I'd like to share my experience releasing Saul Williams' "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of
NiggyTardust" and what I've learned from the process. Perhaps by revealing of all our data - our
"dirty laundry" - we can contribute to a better solution.

A quick history: Saul makes a great record that I produce. We can't find the right home at a major
label. We decide to release it ourselves, digitally. Saul does not have limitless financial resources
so we shop around for a company that can fulfill our needs. We choose Musicane because they are
competent and are willing to adapt to what we want. The results are here: niggytardust.com

We offer the entire record free (as in totally free to the visitor - we pay bandwidth costs) as 192
MP3s, or for $5 you can choose higher fidelity versions and feel good about supporting the artist
directly. We offer all major CCs and PayPal as payment options.
Here's what I was thinking: Fans are interested in music as soon as it's available (that's a good
thing, remember) and usually that's a leak from the label's manufacturing plants. Offering the record
digitally as its first appearance in the marketplace eliminates that problem. I thought if you
offered the whole record free at reasonable quality - no strings attached - and offered a hassle free
way to show support that clearly goes straight to the artists who made it at an unquestionably low
price people would "do the right thing". I know, I know...
Well, now I DO know and you will too.

Saul's previous record was released in 2004 and has sold 33,897 copies.

As of 1/2/08,
154,449 people chose to download Saul's new record.
28,322 of those people chose to pay $5 for it, meaning:
18.3% chose to pay.

Of those paying,

3220 chose 192kbps MP3
19,764 chose 320kbps MP3
5338 chose FLAC

Keep in mind not one cent was spent on marketing this record. The only marketing was Saul and myself
talking as loudly as we could to anybody that would listen.
If 33,897 people went out and bought Saul's last record 3 years ago (when more people bought CDs) and
over 150K - five times as many - sought out this new record, that's great - right?
I have to assume the people knowing about this project must either be primarily Saul or NIN fans, as
there was very little media coverage outside our direct influence. If that assumption is correct -
that most of the people that chose to download Saul's record came from his or my own fan-base - is it
good news that less than one in five feel it was worth $5? I'm not sure what I was expecting but that
percentage - primarily from fans - seems disheartening.
Add to that: we spent too much (correction, I spent too much) making the record utilizing an A-list
team and studio, Musicane fees, an old publishing deal, sample clearance fees, paying to give the
record away (bandwidth costs), and nobody's getting rich off this project.

But...
Saul's music is in more peoples' iPods than ever before and people are interested in him. He'll be
touring throughout the year and we will continue to get the word out however we can.

So - if you're an artist looking to utilize this method of distribution, make of these figures what
you will and hopefully this info is enlightening.

Best,
TR

External Links

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