This fine Chicago rapper may never go mainstream, but his chances of becoming a classic are excellent. At 27, Saba is a popular artist in the left field of rap, raking in that entire portion of the hip hop audience. We loved his first two albums, especially the superb Care for Me, inspired–among other things–by the savage and gratuitous murder of his cousin.
We like this Few Good Things just as much: here is a third album of the same quality. We discover the properties of this authentic grower during the listening. A listing of Saba’s friends confirms the scope: the renowned Black Thought (The Roots), the very gifted Smino, Cheflee, G Herbo, the eloquent Eryn Allen Kane, Marian Mereba and Brittany Fousheé, Krayzie Bone (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), 6lack, Day Wave, Benjamin Earl Turner and other unknown members of the Pivot Gang, a collective of Illinois with whom Saba has solid links.
The cover of Few Good Things shows a sixty-year-old black man sitting at the foot of an urban building, surrounded by a Frost fence. His gaze is torpid, almost threatening. Strangely, his face is surrounded by flowers. Strangely? Saba understands the uncertainty and weirdness of human existence, which he explores poetically through his own journey through the Windy City.
The narrator recalls a difficult, sometimes harsh, journey, then evokes his acquired privileges, housing, clothes, leisure, domestic idleness. This is not done with joy, the questions are numerous, and unanswered for the most part. The angles of observation are varied and expressed by a wandering mind, slightly detached from its subject, intelligent and sensual. An assumed paradox between drama and lightness of life? Yep.
And the icing on the cake: the music, which is really the top. Saba is one of those rappers very involved in composition and beat-making, and he knows what to do. The bases of each of the 14 songs are laid by three artists: daedae Pivot, Daoud, and our main guy, who share various duties: keyboard, guitar, bass, drums, and home programming. The result: jazzy flavours, post-boom-bap aesthetics, excellent grooves. It’s the spirit of a band, not a collage. With a flow of this quality, with such a vibe, it’s hard to beat.