Saul Williams speaks out on closure of Tupac musical: "America prefers its stories packaged like Rocky"

Holler If Ya Hear Me, the musical based on Tupac’s songs and starring Saul Williams, was forced to close last week after just a month on the stage.

While producer Eric Gold blamed the musical’s failure on the “financial burdens of Broadway”, actor and singer Williams has now spoken out about how the “American race psyche” shaped critics’ reception of the show and his hopes for reviving it in the future.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Williams said the show’s critical reception was disappointing: “There was something deeply embedded in a lot of the reviews that went deeper than just a dislike of the play.”

He continued: “The idea of having a play that centres around, how do you stop the cycles of gun violence in our community? It’s weird to hear someone feel like the story is generic when it’s the front page of every fucking paper to date. And when you look at the reviews and compare them to everything from Do the Right Thing to Menace II Society, it’s always the same fucking review.

“There’s actually a generic response when I don’t think critics realise they’re playing into the hands of something that runs deeper than how this made you feel. I am speaking to that American race psyche; that thing that Harry Belafonte said to me after he saw the play, which is, ‘You took an afrocentric-themed play and placed it on a eurocentric stage. The problems you’ll face are larger than you think.'”

Williams also lamented the failure of Holler If Ya Hear Me in the face of white hip hop artists having huge chart success. “I’m starting to think that there’s some deeper sociological reasoning behind this,” he said. “There is no disconnect between this and Iggy Azalea, an Australian girl rapping with a southern accent, being Number One on the charts. It’s all related to where we are right now as a culture and within the culture of the arts.”

Despite the musical’s failure on Broadway failure, he was optimistic that the show could return in a different form. “[The producers] went into this knowing that they could have started with a tour before Broadway, but they wanted that Broadway stamp and this is the cost of that stamp. Anything that involves struggle involves finance,” he said. “When you do something fresh and new, you’re going to face obstacles and I promise you this story isn’t over.”

Hear three tracks from the show, including a unique rendering of ‘California Love’. Meanwhile, the long-awaited Tupac biopic is also expected in the next year or so, helmed by Boyz In The Hood director John Singleton and featuring music by Ashanti. Oh yeah, and the >CIA have been tweetingabout Tupac’s whereabouts.

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