Saul Williams Shares Details About Tupac-Inspired Musical ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ [VIDEO]
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‘Holler If You Hear Me,’ the musical based on Tupac Shakur’s music that recently opened on Broadway, has some skeptics worried that the project won’t compliment the late rapper’s vibe. However, star Saul Williams begs to differ and says it elevates hip-hop.
“It’s about how we end gun violence in community,” Williams, who plays John in the production, tells Ebro and Laura Stylez on Hot 97’s ‘Ebro in the Morning.’ “How do we raise the bar? How do we bring this thing to a whole new level? The play itself takes hip-hop to another level. You know, you have a cast of 25 amazing MCs, the actors, dancers, taking it, you know, to the Great White Way.”
But if you think it’s about Tupac’s life, you’re clearly mistaken. While the music featured in the Broadway show belongs to the late West Coast MC, the story is a completely fictional narrative based off the lyrics and life of the rapper. “It’s a fiction,” Williams says. “You know Tupac wrote a lot of fiction in his rhymes. There were a lot of stories that he told that were not his own. So our writer Todd Kreidler pulled a lot of stories from [Tupac] stories.”
And when asked about Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mom, and her role in the musical, Williams makes sure to highlight that she wasn’t only the producer of the project but also the one who came up with the idea to do something on the big stage.
“In fact, the idea came from her conversations with August Wilson, the esteemed playwright August Wilson,” he explains. “So she approached him about 15 years ago or 17 years ago with this idea, and he started going through all of Tupac’s music and was really moved by him. And his assistant at the time was the one who actually ended up writing this piece, Todd Kreidler.”
While Williams and co-star Joshua Boone were there to talk about the musical, Ebro wanted to start a dialogue about hip-hop and asked Williams if he thought there was anyone who is presently making music that carried the same mission and vibe as Tupac. “I think there are a lot of conscious rappers out there who are telling people to pay attention to what they say because they feel what they say is important,” he says, naming Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown and J. Cole as examples. “But like [Ebro] said, the music isn’t backing it up. Then you have a lot of cats that make music that’s awesome, but they aren’t saying anything. But how can you front on the music? Because it’s music first.”
To see more of Hot 97’s interview with Saul Williams, check out the video above.