Slam poets occupy the ground between poetry, hip-hop and performance art. Few have been able to navigate that ground better than NYC's Saul Williams. True to slam's roots, his performances (both live and on record) are political, visceral and keenly self-aware. But he also brings a complexity that is oftentimes lacking from the pieces of his compatriots. Sure, his work can be didactic, but he is just as interested in metaphor, character and texture. This was apparent in his 1998 film debut, Slam, and his 2001 debut record, Amethyst Rock Star. Since then, his work has ranged from MoveOn.org-style anti-Bush paeans (2003's Not in My Name) to po-mo industrial claptrap (2007's collaboration with Trent Reznor, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust). Regardless of his approach or thematic focus, Williams is one of the most singular artists working on the periphery of hip-hop.