What would you do if you had to live like every day could be your last? What would be on your bucket list? These were the questions that Saba and his fellow rappers posed on his debut record, Bucket List Project, but their naïve responses, such as wanting to sleep with Kylie Jenner and have ten million dollars, proved that they were still innocent young rappers dreaming of fame outside the Westside of Chicago.
Following Bucket List, The murder of Saba’s cousin, Walter, sent shockwaves through his worldview, and it’s clear that the disillusionment and grief he faced in mourning Walter’s life, forced him to see his city through fresh eyes. Evident from his latest release, Care For Me, it took a great toll on him.
On Bucket List, we got a lot of locations, but we didn’t get a lot of Saba. This all changes, like mostly everything between these records, on Care For Me, as not only do we see into Saba’s mind, but we hear that Chicago sound, the one he helped make so famous. Along with Chance the Rapper, Saba has been as influential to the sound of Chicago’s current scene as The Social Experiment, producing hits like “Angels” with Chance and pretty much half of Noname’s record Telefone.
With influences of jazz, trap, and really well executed storytelling, Care for Me felt a lot like Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.a.a.d. City, a record about growing up in Compton, CA, and learning how to navigate gang violence, young greed, and addiction, to find a way out. Like Lamar, Saba is a good kid, just joking with his friends about their bucket list and what their young minds can wish up about fame, and then a death of a loved one, brought about by the same system they live in, brings them into the madness of their city until they find a way out.
Walter’s death forces Saba to actually confront the question of death he posed on Bucket List, and in doing so, his seemingly limitless future crumbles around him as he reminisces about his upbringing and speaks about police brutality and unnecessary violence. He’s forced to imagine what his cousin would have dreamt up for his bucket list, a dream now unfulfilled.
Besides the amazing lyricism, emotion, and musical elements of Care for Me, it’s Saba and Walter’s story that really brings home the record, as he guides us through his personal eye-opening experience and grief to discover that although his cousin is gone, he is not alone, and his impression on Saba will always live on within him.
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