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List of Demands in a Nike Commercial

April 3, 2008

And people start clamoring about how he has sold out. I don’t think a an artist sells out when their material gets used for commercial purposes- it’s pretty ignorant for people to play that card. He wrote that song several years ago, Nike didn’t make him change it or anything. I bet those are the same damn people who downloaded Niggy for free. Bastards.

The video:

Saul’s response to the annoying half of his fanbase:

hey guys. nice convo. (nike owns converse)

1. yes, i approved the use of my song (which i wrote in my bedroom on a thursday afternoon, while Saturn was at school).

2. i wrote the synth line first and remember adding the lyrics, “I want my money back”, while thinking, “what am i talking about?”. But the synth line demanded something badass..so thats what came.

3. I subtitled the song ‘Reparations’ a day or so later ’cause I thought the song would feel more powerful if thought of in the context of something more specific.

4. Nike offered reparations including recoupment for $120 red, white, and black Jordans i begged my parents for in 6th grade. I got my money back.

5. my new years resolution was to take on greater responsibility which means handling larger amounts of energy (and not shying away from it).

6. Nikeresponsibility.com Although, I agree that there is always the potential to gloss over ideas rather than adjust, my research tells me that when one manages a corporation this big, you basically learn as you go and self-correct along the way. Especially when you’re dealing with an issue that is sometimes more under the jurisdiction of the local government and what they allow rather than what the out-sourcing company mandates. Either way, the issue is much larger than Nike, yet since they have been singled out and have such powerful presence, they have actually become the leader in addressing the issue with foreign governments (although they have refused to work with anti-sweatshop groups created within the US).

7. I have never seen a Nike ad and thought “I gotta get those shoes”, but I have thought, “who sings that? I gotta get that album”. which is to say, am I selling Nikes or is Nike selling Saul Williams albums?

8. I made $0 from the sales of that album….so far.

9. As I’m typing this I’m watching Poetri (from Def Poetry’s broadway cast) in an Arby’s commercial.

10. What happened to all the people who said, “Saul, I wish more people could hear your music?”

11. I might consider myself a sellout if I wrote a song FOR a corporation, but an ad exec asking me to use my song in their commercial, strikes me as not much different as a student asking to use my song in their film. Granted I can think of plenty of corporations that I would say no to and a couple of years ago I probably would have said no to Nike, just as I did to Mercedes (but they actually wanted me to write a poem about a car! A poem!). But, yes, I knew that Nike had made certain steps in addressing issues, which I had to research years ago as my neice, who is a formidable athlete, and daughter have both begged me for Nikes. Although I do not personally own a pair, I remember what it was like to be in junior high school. They’re both really excited about the commercial.

12. “A Nike airforce fleet. Custom-made, unique”.

13. I’ve had quite a few pro-football players come up to me in airports and restaurants to tell me that they listen to my music (even before games!).

14. I don’t watch football (unless it’s soccer).

15. ipods ain’t green.


  1. I agree. I don’t think an artist is selling out for allowing a song to be used in a commercial BUT I think it’s a little hypocritical that Saul allowed himself to be associated with a corporation like Nike considering their sorted history. After hearing this clip on YouTube from the Wake Up Show: http://youtube.com/watch?v=TyxfN6K-AEY

    …I wonder if he has now become a “Republican” by his own definition.

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