The Inevitable Rise And Liberation Of NiggyTardust!
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.
- "Black History Month" – 3:15
- "Convict Colony" – 3:24
- "Tr(n)igger" – 3:54
- "Sunday Bloody Sunday" – 4:05
- "Break" – 3:18
- "NiggyTardust" – 3:40
- "DNA" – 4:03
- "WTF!" – 5:29
- "Scared Money" – 3:49
- "Raw" – 2:50
- "Skin Of A Drum" – 3:56
- "No One Ever Does" – 3:15
- "Banged And Blown Through" – 3:43
- "Raised To Be Lowered" – 5:23
- "The Ritual" – 5:20
- "Pedagogue Of Young Gods" (bonus track) - 3:18
- "World On Wheels" (bonus track) - 1:27
- "Can’t Hide Love" (bonus track) - 2:27
- "Gunshots By Computer" (bonus track) - 1:44
- "List Of Demands (Reparations)" (bonus track) - 3:18
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
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 CD-R with instrumentals of fourteen songs surfaced 3.5 years after the release.
The album was released at 1am Eastern Time on November 1st 2007, with the ability 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 receive 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 was July 8th, 2008, and it was released on CD and vinyl with bonus tracks, as well as via iTunes. A tenth anniversary edition of the album was released on vinyl in 2018, which also included the bonus tracks.
Trent Reznor on NiggyTardust
Reznor wrote the following regarding the album on nin.com:
Big news today!
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,
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
- 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.
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.