Album review: Saba confronts sadness in latest album “CARE FOR ME”

Posted on Apr 23 2018 - 5:26am by Jordan Maury

Saba’s newest album, “CARE FOR ME,” is a gorgeous yet somber follow-up to the colorful “Bucket List Project.”

The Chicago emcee shows tremendous growth as an artist by showcasing exquisite storytelling and an assortment of interesting flows and melodies. The 10-track project also uses an entirely different palette of sounds from that of its predecessor, painting a gloomier picture than his last effort did.

Though “CARE FOR ME” is relatively short, Saba manages to squeeze in a handful of capable features, such as Chance the Rapper, theMind and Kaina.

It is evident from the opening track that Saba is taking a slightly grave approach with the music.

On “BUSY,” Saba raps about the loneliness that has plagued him that stems from being on tour without his girlfriend as well as the death of his friend Walter. His words are so saturated in frustration that it is hard for a listener to not succumb to his torrential emotions.

Saba in color

Photo Courtesy: Consequence of Sound

Honestly, this one song summarizes the sadness that Saba tries to overcome for the entirety of the album.

For instance, “BROKEN GIRLS” describes Saba’s inability to find an appropriate mate because he is addicted to dysfunctional women. However, Saba never fails to mention that he is also far from perfect in these less-than-ideal relationships.

Saba owns up to his flaws and tries to use these moments to grow, as one can hear in the song “CALLIGRAPHY.” Here, Saba raps about dealing with the reality that is life through writing. The characterization Saba provides adds depth to his project without adding much length.

In terms of rapping, Saba manages to show major improvements in his skills as an emcee. The young artist especially showcases his ability to adapt his flow to any instrumental.

The best example of this comes on the song “LIFE.” Saba begins with a rather calm, straightforward flow before adopting a more melodic one that meshes well with the emergence of higher tones on the backing track. However, Saba only plays with this flow for a few seconds before switching to a more staccato one that provides emphasis along with the cymbal crashes in the background. Saba also takes a stab at singing on the hook. The versatility that he displays on this one song is astonishing.

What may be even more crazy is that Saba begins the next song with yet another different cadence and tone. If one were not familiar with the different stylings of Saba, it would be easy to think each song was by a different lead artist.

Saba’s ability to bring a different energy to each song is what keeps this album fresh.

Saba’s most impressive feat comes on the song “PROM/KING.” The song is seven minutes of pure storytelling. Saba leaves nothing to the imagination as he supplies vivid details about the time spent with his cousin Walter, to whom most of the album is dedicated. The story is filled with twists and turns that keep listeners on the edge of their seats for the entire seven minutes, despite how evident the resolution is from the beginning.

The production on the album is what ties everything together. The instrumentals inspire visions of overcast skies filled with gray clouds. Relatively simplistic production dominated by light piano chords guides the instrumentals on songs such as “CALLIGRAPHY” and “LOGOUT.” Although there are some uptempo moments, the album remains mostly laidback for its duration.

Saba has come a long way from his humble beginnings as a guest feature on Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap.” Since then he has been paving a lane of his own and showing why he is worthy of a successful solo career.

“CARE FOR ME” is the perfect sophomore effort because it does not try to be its predecessor. Saba is still maturing, and it is safe to say that he will not be stopping anytime soon.