Saba’s most recent album, CARE FOR ME, shows that the young Chicago rapper has potential to be great. His most recent record showcases his ability to deliver content that is not only seeping with emotion, but also has depth musically. It is clear that he has the ambition to create something substantial, and he will not be content to crank out music without meaning. Saba fails, however, to establish a unique sound, and detail renders the album less memorable.
Musically, CARE FOR ME is a bit of a mixed bag. Some songs offer superb production and moody beats that Saba flows eloquently over. At the same time, there are tracks on this album that are lack-luster. The music on the record contains a unique jazz fusion at parts, and the album could use a bit more of that sound. The jazzier moments feel more unique, and the more generic parts of the album are the least memorable parts.
Saba’s sound is one that will be familiar to hip-hop fans. There are a few rappers he could be compared to, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. It does become a problem, however, as he fails to carve out a sound that is unique to him. Sonically, the album is pleasing, but it doesn’t do much to stand out as unique musically.
Lyrically, Saba delivers hard-hitting bars that will resonate with careful listeners. His album is like a conglomeration of his recent life experiences. It is evident that Saba has been struggling emotionally, and he does an excellent job of conveying this without coming off as moody or melodramatic. A central theme of the record is Saba’s emotional response to his cousin and mentor being stabbed to death in Chicago: “Jesus died for our sins/ Walter died for a *expletive* coat.”
One of the strengths of the record is Saba’s ability to paint a picture for the listener and his ability to convey feeling. His strength as a storyteller leads to some lengthier tracks that tell moving stories about his life growing up in Chicago or about his life now. He tells stories that convey his anti-social narrative, social anxiety and even allude to battles with depression. Saba chronicles the types of things that contribute to the mental illnesses that plague many young people. The way he utilizes stories to accomplish this goal and to convey personal experiences is a highlight on the album.
CARE FOR ME is complex and difficult to view objectively. It is a project with an extreme deviation between its high points and low points. The record also showcases the potential Saba has to create something truly great for listeners. Lyrically, the album is phenomenal. It is ambitious in its narrative scope and accomplishes the goal of sharing the artist’s unique experience. But Saba is still trying to find a sound that is unique to him. The album showcases glimpses of what that sound might be, but it is clear that there is still refining that needs to be done. If I could give it 3.5/5 stars, I would.
And don’t forget to check out the Kanye/Cudi collab on June 8th.