Diving head first into an introspective art-soul sound, Saba’s second studio album, CARE FOR ME, cuts open fresh old wounds with interchangeable beats, a variety of flows, and immersive storytelling. The album’s synergistic relationship between neo-soul, R&B, and downtempo grooves embody Saba’s eccentric sound, elevated by guest vocalists theMIND, KAINA, and Chance The Rapper.
Before really getting into this shit, it’s safe to say the multiplicity of sound and mindful depth embedded within this album will break Saba through the thin silhouette he’s been lurking behind since the release of his first studio album, Bucket List Project.
Cut with 10 tracks total, CARE FOR ME depicts a melancholy, impactful mind trip exploring instability without concern, solitude, mental health, and conscious grief. Saba’s perception of life and death is illustrated through his growing experiences in the West Side of Chicago, emphasized by the passing of his cousin, John Walt (Walter). Walter’s death justifies Saba’s tripped-up psyche throughout.
One time through you’ll feel for the dude, beg for more, and repeat.
“BUSY / SIRENS” introduces grief as a major theme with a compelling outro to the first verse (“Jesus got killed for our sins, Walter got killed for a coat / I’m tryna cope, but it’s a part of me gone and apparently I’m alone”). The heavy hitting 808s of “LIFE” further extend Saba’s frustration (“They killed my cousin with a pocket knife”). He retains passionate, poetic detail that pirouettes around the beat.
Steering away from personal conflict, “LOGOUT” expresses Saba’s conflict with modern social media and the obsession that surrounds it (“Ain’t’ no beauty in the absence of broadcastin’ to your followers”). Chance The Rapper features on a final verse that further reflects on the music industry in the digital age.
Saba’s deft flow allows him to smoothly veer his audience away from the latest trap beats and rather into verbose, jazz-affiliated compositions with soulful horns scattered throughout. “GREY” finds this flawlessly. Scrutinizing the current state of hip-hop music, Saba unleashes his desire for something more in the rap scene (“The best song’s probably on the B-side / Won’t be surprised when the label deny”). The combination of awe-inspiring storytelling, vibrant horns, and brutally honest commentary make for an impactful track reflecting artistic turmoil.
“PROM / KING” is far from enigmatic. The first part of the track undergoes the efforts of Walter trying to hook Saba up with a date for prom (“My cousin hit me back, ‘Don’t trip, bro. I got you a date’ / So he sent me this link to some girl I had never seen / He said to call and tell her ‘Walter sent you, you with me’”). Ambiance and incisive wordplay surround lush piano keys, swallowed by dark drum beats midway.
CARE FOR ME is the sound of a self-aware artist proven by the stylistic risks Saba takes as he breaks down each track by feeling with intention. Sure to be an influential light that shines on the next wave of hip-hop, this record is an example of pure artistic expression.