Subtitle: Saba reveals everything he is and was on his third full album
After a four-year hiatus from his latest LP, rapper, songwriter and producer Saba released his third full-length rap album, “Few Good Things,” on February 4. Featuring hip-hop legends Black Thought and Krayzie Bone alongside modern R&B mainstays Smino, 6LACK and Mereba, “Few Good Things” is peppered with smooth production, unique samples and introspective lyrics.
“The concept of ‘Few good things’ is self-realization after a search for external fulfilment. It’s the satisfaction and completeness you gain from simply living a life that is yours,” Saba said in a press release. Saba has always been transparent both inside and outside the studio, which gives her a unique edge in a heavily saturated genre.
Alongside the new album, Saba released a short film highlighting some of his music and the inspiration behind the production of the album. Panoramic shots of Chicago’s West Side, family and friends ride bicycles as narration and music echo in the background. The themes of loss, anxiety, success and fatherhood in “Few Good Things” are all reflected in the carefully produced companion film.
“Few Good Things” begins with the track “Free Samples” featuring Cheflee, a moving orchestral piece. “Samples” slowly weaves into Saba’s first verse about supporting her family and reflecting on her troubled past in Chicago. Although it serves mainly as an introduction, it sets the tone that Saba has undergone a lot of soul-searching since her last LP in 2018.
The full-length first track, “One Way Every N**** With a Budget,” glides in the same soulful tone as the intro with a soulful guitar sample and harmonized vocals layered over unique percussion. The drums sound a bit crowded, but there’s a lot to appreciate in its upbeat lyrics about finally being able to provide for the family.
“Survivor’s Guilt” immediately shifts the album‘s tone from mellow neo-soul rap to bass trap-inspired sound. Fellow Chicago native G Herbo is featured on the track and delivers a strong performance, but his vague lyrics about gang violence seem to counteract the message Saba portrays in the song’s first half.
For example, Saba talks about the pressure to give in to violence: “I plotted everything, said ‘I’ll kill everything’ / Survivor’s guilt rhetoric, I could have been a B / But it thinks deadly / We face the pressure of the family we’ve seen suffer Despite being popular in the genre for using violent relationships as a source of pride, Saba is grateful to have chosen a different path.
The three-track sequence of “Fearmonger”, “Come My Way” and “Still” is the album’s strongest, with three solid, simple beats and introspective lyrics about fear of failure, poverty and poverty. grief.
Saba flexes her technical ability on “Fearmonger” with a fast, upbeat flow while reinforcing the motive of losing it all in her lyrics, “I’m just scared to go back, I had no shit to eat / Half of my bread goes to taxes, the real thieves.
“Come My Way” is a dark, thoughtful inclusion from the LP with a rare feature from Krayzie Bone, a member of prolific hip-hop group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and a personal inspiration for Saba. He and Krayzie Bone deliver solid bars about personal struggle and supporting their families, and the track serves as a transition into the album’s slower, more focused part.
The top-selling track at the time of the album’s release, “Still,” perfectly captures the anxiety and uncertainty that follows a breakup. Featuring 6LACK and Smino, the track is full of heartfelt lyrics and features one of Saba’s best verses on the album.
The lines, “What is the real world? / When you’re with me, you take your temper away / Certainly, yes, me too”, shows Saba’s vulnerability, which he elaborates in a full verse about his personal struggles in a relationship that he had to put on hold until he was in a relationship.
Saba’s tenderness returns in “Soldat,” in which he reflects on being a father to a smooth, driving soulful beat. His words form a flow close to André 3000: tight, punctual and sincere. Saba is able to blend his anxiety of being a father with the love he feels for his new child in a way that encapsulates reality and human understanding in his music.
The album closes with the title track “Few Good Things”, a seven-minute experimental piece featuring hip-hop legend, Black Thought. While Saba delivers two more impassioned verses, Black Thought carries the track with surprisingly personal and sweet bars given its usual upbeat and punctual style. Ambient transitions between verses are slightly clunky in execution, but they don’t detract from the meditative tone Saba aimed to close the album on.
Saba plans to perform in Boston at Paradise Rock Club on April 29, 2022.
Lucas Ruud can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @LukeRuud.