by Andrew Goldberg
Chicago’s rap scene is a stunning one, producing not only high quality rappers, but some of the country’s most thought-provoking and progressive young artists to date. Chief among those is the west side’s own Tahj Malik Chandler, better known by his performance pseudonym, Saba. While he first gained national recognition as a feature on contemporary Chance the Rapper’s groundbreaking Acid Rap mixtape, Saba’s unique blend of witty and palpably emotional lyricism has helped carved out a spot as a premier talent in his own right. Even before featuring on major releases, Saba had been honing his skills as a writer and poet through the storied Young Chicago Authors, where other alums such as Noname and Jamila Woods also began their come ups. The collaborative identity further continued with 2016’s landmark Bucket List Project, combining a kaleidoscope of immense talent, reflecting his wills to showcase the community Chicago had built out of music.
Saba’s tendency for providing lucid and striking narratives truly shown through on 2018’s CARE FOR ME, highlighting his knack for incredibly introspective and capturing speech. Songs like “SMILE” and “GREY” showcase his breezy, yet purposeful flow — words ever so carefully curated to remind listeners of their utmost importance. Though it still retained some of his past work’s jazz-tinged influence, the immediacy of production and stripped beats brings CARE FOR ME into a special cabinet of artists seriously taking ahold of their sound and crafting the most genuine and fulfilling record that anyone will hear this year. As Pitchfork writes in their Best New Music coverage, CARE FOR ME’s “instrumentation is bracing, almost as if played live for a crowd”, making the prospect of Friday night all the more exciting.
Saba is an artist on the rise, reshaping what it means to be an artist on the rise. WRBB is truly honored to support and present a platform to share his music.