Saba meditates on family and hometown roots on "Few Good Things"

by Rachel Crowell

Saba meditates on family and hometown roots on "Few Good Things"

Saba’s new album, Few Good Things, is an honest reflection on the topics of fame and family values. The sonic landscape that Saba creates with Few Good Things is very smooth, peaceful, and nostalgic. Saba released a short film shot in his hometown Chicago five days after the album’s release, which was a beautiful ode to his roots and showcased his close family and friends. The entire album flows smoothly from beginning to end, without ever boring the listener.

Although Saba does an excellent job of modulating his voice in different ways throughout the album, his smooth melodic songs definitely play into his strengths as an artist. Some songs, like “Survivor’s Guilt” and “If I Had a Dollar,” are delivered in a more harsh, Kendrick Lamar-style, but are delivered with the same emotion that Lamar brings to his music. Saba’s emotion is better heard through his smoother songs like “Fearmonger” or “Come My Way” with rapper Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. His flow blended perfectly with Bone in the fifth song on the album, leaving listeners wanting more. Saba’s lyrics throughout the album are packed with beautiful imagery and carefully chosen allusions. The allusions to other artists like Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, Hall & Oates, and Kid Cudi help listeners relate to Saba as a consumer rather than a creator, giving them some common ground.

Part of the nostalgic feel of the album is the use of strings in every song. Oftentimes in movies and TV shows, plucked violin strings are played whenever a character is falling back into a flashback. The strings in the album are calming and reaffirm the nostalgia of the album. Like Kendrick Lamar and SZA, he takes voice memos from family members and disperses them at the end of songs like “Still,” “Few Good Things,” and at the beginning of “Make Believe.” These voice memos help the album feel more personal, like Saba is showing fans a voicemail that he received from his mom the other day. The album’s short film further cemented this familial feeling; during the video, the camera often pans over scrapbook photos of family reunions filled with cousins, aunts, and uncles.

Saba often uses music to meditate on life. In his previous album, CARE FOR ME, he mourned the death of his cousin and family members that were locked up in jail. Few Good Things reminisces on the good times that he had in his grandma’s house, before he earned millions making music. It seems like nothing is easy, whether he’s rich or poor. In the beginning of the album, he raps about growing from rags in Chicago to living in riches in California. He continues in “Survivor’s Guilt,” describing how the fear of imminent poverty and death wears on his psyche. As he progresses through the album, he combats imposter syndrome in “Stop That.” Despite coming from poor beginnings, he is grateful for his family’s hard work, getting him where he is today.

The album is an excellent, honest reflection of Saba’s feelings towards his fame and family. His melodic sound sets him apart from peers like Smino and idols like Kendrick Lamar. Although Saba still lacks notoriety, it seems like he is content with the fame that he has gained and wants to focus on making music that is personal to him. He still has some work to do to make his music more universal for alternative hip-hop fans, but it is sure to touch listeners that struggle with the same hurdles he has to jump over. This authenticity makes Saba an artist that listeners should look out for in the future.