Coded Language

  • Image for Coded Language
  • Image for Coded Language
2 images
Written by
Williams, Saul, American, born 1972
ink on paper, plastic laminate
H x W (flat): 147 × 12 1/4 in. (373.4 × 31.1 cm)
H x W x D (rolled): 2 × 12 1/4 × 2 3/4 in. (5.1 × 31.1 × 7 cm)
scrolls (information artifacts)
A long piece of scrolled white paper containing a handwritten copy of Saul Williams' poem "Coded Language." The top half of the poem is written in both black and brown ink; the lower half just uses black ink. The handwriting is in all capital letters and features a distinctive 'E' made with just three parallel horizontal lines and no vertical line joining them. The poem begins, [Whereas, breakbeats have been the missing link connecting the diasporic / Community to its drum woven past / Whereas the quantized drum has allowed teh whirling musicians to / Calculate the ever changing distance between rock and stardom / Whereas the velocity of the spinning vinyl, cross-faded, spun back-wards, and / Re-released at the same given moment of recorded history, yet at a / Different moment in time's continuum has allowed history to catch up with / The present]. Please see the transcription on the Notes tab for the full poem.
African American
Hip hop (Music)
Spoken word (Poetry)
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Saul Williams
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
© Saul Williams
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Memorabilia and Ephemera
Cultural Expressions
On View
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Culture/Fourth Floor, 4 050
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

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