Q&A with Saba

WRBB Media Team reps Jake Dennis and Kyle Rossini had the chance to talk with Saba this past week to promote Saba’s newest project, Bucket List Project.

“I want to have a gallery, an art gallery. I don’t know if it’ll be a wall, or an actual gallery, or if this would be a one time thing, but before I wanted to do music, I wanted to be a painter and I wanted to do cartoon work.”

J: Saba, first off, we know that one really original thing you did for your project was that you put some fan-made bucket lists on your album. What led you to choose those specific bucket lists that ended up on the album?

I think they were some of my favorites that I just picked out. The intro one, for example, was Will Fountain who wanted to have sex with Kylie Jenner, play against D. Rose, and go to In-and-Out. I don’t know, I just felt like, 1) it was hilarious and I laughed and, crazy thing is he was one of the first people who sent me a bucket list, and I had gotten at least like 50 to 100 or something like that, and I wanted to listen to all of them. And his just stood out because he sounded really confident and sounded like he could, you know what I’m saying? One of the important things about having dreams like that is to believe that you can do them, and he sounded like that to me. He sounded like that. To me it just sounded like the perfect way to start, and to introduce the idea. I think people would get it if I start with him. And then, from there, I think Joshua was the second fan, and he just sounded really genuine. I think he wanted to make music and put out a project, and that was one thing as an artist that I just felt too much to not use. Like the fact that he said it didn’t matter if anybody heard it or anything like that. I know that, in doing art, a lot of kids are caught in how many listened and how many played it, and how many followers you have. But really, when you want to do music, it doesn’t matter. None of that matters. And to me it’s like I just felt so exactly what he was saying, and I knew exactly where he was coming from, because I felt the exact same way only a few years ago. So I just knew instantly that I was going to use it. But to me, the idea came from just having it so that it’s like I’m telling specifically my story, but wanting other people to interact and be involved with it and feel like they can relate. I wanted to put people who listen to me on my album because it’s a group thing, an album. We’re putting this project together. I guess I was just in a phase of the project for now, but it’s really a thing I wanted to do more to make sure that people knew that they were a part of a whole bunch of this concept.

K: Definitely, and so we know the title of your newest work is called the Bucket List Project, so we wanted to ask, what makes this Bucket List a “project” as opposed to a regular album or mixtape?

One being that it is this project. I think for me, when I’m working on my mixtapes or projects or albums, whatever you want to call them, I usually, or at least so far, this will be my third or really like my second project. They have been aligning with life; life experiments or life projects for me so far. So for Comfort Zone, I wanted to get out of this wall that I had built, get out of this comfort zone and do new things. So now with Bucket List, it’s like taking that to the extreme of trying to do all of these grand ideas, and really dreaming, and just going for life. So that’s one of the reasons why I wanted it to be called “project”. It is a project, and that is something that I want to include everybody in it. It really feels like a project, almost like a science fair or something. And the other take on project is that, being in 2016 in music, what is it? Is it a mixtape? Is it an album? Is it a free download or you pay for it? It really didn’t matter, it was just a project. So I was like “I don’t know what to call it. Project.”

K: Building off of that, obviously now, as you said, we are seeing the lines being blurred between mixtape, albums, all those new titles to music. With that being said, in the streaming era, with Soundcloud seeming to be the new way to go, do you see this as a new opportunity for artists to have more personal experiences between them and their fans? Like you were saying how you include some of your fan-made bucket lists, do you see that being the new shift, and the new way, especially with Hip-Hop, that the industry is heading?

J: Yeah, like being more of a collaborative project with the people. We know that you put your project out on iTunes, but since it is on streaming services as well, you can update it depending on what your fans are saying. And you’re mentioning how you liked to work with your fans on the bucket list aspect of it. So do you feel like you’re going to be doing any of that with this project moving forward?

I think what I would say is that it is a lot more collaborative, but the thing that I made, and the reason that I was doing a lot of that was just because, being independent, the fans are really what I depend on. Its one of those things where all I get is tweets all day about how much they appreciate me and my work, and I wanted to do something to show how much I appreciate them. Because I know that they’re a part of the journey. There are some people who have been following me since I had under 1,000 followers. Now it’s not even that crazy, it’s almost 30,000 which is nothing for a lot of rappers, but for me and for them, they know how hard we had to work to get to where we are now. And it’s going to continue to grow, and continue to build. It’s really just one of things where I wanted them to be a part of the project.

But as far as the iTunes and all of that stuff, I honestly wasn’t even going for that initially. I was going to go straight to Soundcloud, because as an independent artist, it sometimes feels like your options are limited. This time we just went off and put it all on iTunes and it ended up being number one for a few hours, and that was something we just hadn’t expected.

J&K: Yeah, Congratulations!

I appreciate it. But stuff like that really shows how important fan-bases are. That is more important than if you’re independent, or you’re major. It didn’t matter if I had a thousand followers. If all one thousand would have supported it the way they supported it the day it dropped, it could have still gone number one. I think that just shows more of the Bucket List aspect; the dreaming aspect. You can really do whatever you dream about, and that’s exactly what I wanted to show. Sometimes I’m even surprised by things like when we went number 1. I was surprised! I was so happy of course. And all of the support that was behind it, even now we’re still in the top ten. We’re up with major, major labels with a bunch of money behind it, and we’re living in a basement, or whatever. It’s just crazy to see the growth and the support system.

J: I remember you mentioning just now you said how you were at the top of the charts, I remember seeing you put a picture of that on Instagram, and you just seemed so excited about it and all the fans were commenting as well about how exciting it was. You’re saying as well about how you’re up there with people with major labels behind them. With this ability to do these great things even without a label, did you always expect that and was that part of why you decided to join the new movement of Chicago artists coming out and being more independent of labels, and trailblazing their own path?

I think it just happened like that. I’ve been making music my whole life, since I was like seven or eight, and with that, you know when you’re eight, you don’t really know anything about labels or anything like that. But as I learned more about how the music industry works it was always like ‘you need a label, you need a label, but you’re never gonna get signed’ and all this stuff.  To me, it was taking the power away from the artists. Not to say that all labels do that, or all labels are bad or anything like that. It just seems like right now that we have the power, we have social media, we have the ability to put our own stuff on iTunes, and to put money into our own projects. We can mix, master, video, all of the reasons for signing to a label back then have just become casual change that people have access to. It doesn’t seem like the necessity that it was back then. For me to come along at this time and meet all of the artists that I met, it just happened that way. It wasn’t a conscious decision like were gonna not sign to any labels or anything like that. Realistically, barely any labels have even reached out to us. I mean a few have but nothing too crazy, so if they don’t have the belief in me like I have the belief in me anyway, then let’s just do it.  It seems like the people are starting to believe in me more anyway, so we have direct access and we can just cut the middle man. So for as long as I can, I’ll be doing that. There’s no reason to go backward when right now it seems like everything is moving forward. We just did this and this is really early, but this is an independent release that we did spur of the moment and said ‘screw it, we’ll see what happens’, and so far so good.

K: So again, newest work titled Bucket List Project, the concept of a bucket list has been around forever. People have been talking about what they want, what things they want to do before they die, for a long time. So now we wanted to pick your brain and see what’s on your personal bucket list? What’s one thing, from a musical side, and one thing from your personal life that you just feel is something that you must get done?

I want to release an album one day, or a project or mixtape – whatever, that’s very [musical]. I know you can hear the jazz influence on a lot of Bucket List and a lot of ComfortZone but I want to push it even further and just have a very musical project. I can already kind of see it in my head, which is to produce that style of music and keep pushing that boundary a little forward. So that will be on the musical bucket list. As far as what’s on my real bucket list, I’ve been answering this question a lot now so I’m trying to make sure I don’t give you the same answer. I want to have a gallery, an art gallery. I don’t know if it’ll be a wall, or an actual gallery, or if this would be a one time thing, but before I wanted to do music, I wanted to be a painter and I wanted to do cartoon work. Just stuff like that, like visual art stuff. So now I haven’t had time, and I haven’t painted in years now, but it’s always in the back of my mind, and I think it would be dope to paint a bunch of stuff and have a reveal and some gallery. Super low-key but to just do that. And I don’t know how many years from now but at some point in my life I do want to do that experience and see what that would be like.

J: That’s very interesting. You know, that’s something that I don’t think anyone would have known about you before this interview. Going off of that, real quick, what is one other thing that no one else really knows that you think would be interesting, that you think the fans would want to know?

It could be anything?

J: Yeah!

What don’t people know? If I’m not in the studio, I’m playing PlayStation 4. It’s like the only other thing I do with my life. I just got the PSVR and I’m trying that out. The virtual reality thing is pretty crazy, but that’s what’s been taking up most of my time aside from the rap world. When I need a break from the rap world, I venture to the virtual reality world.

K: Take a break from the real world for a little bit. Alright, thank you very much for being with us today Saba. Thank you for your insight and thank you for all of your great answers. We wish you the best of luck going forward, and we wish your bucket list project keeps getting the exposure that we think it should be getting, because it’s a fantastic piece of work. And we hope that in the future, with your personal life, we hope your art gallery takes off one day.

I appreciate that, I really do.

K: No problem man, and everyone out there be sure to check out his newest work, the Bucket List Project. It’s available on Apple Music, iTunes, as well as Soundcloud.

Alright, peace guys!

Listen to Bucket List Project here:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/270679670″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Listen Live