By Nethan Crew
Tahj Malik Chandler, better known by his stage name, Saba, is a 27-year-old rapper and producer from Chicago’s Westside. On Feb. 4, Saba released “Few Good Things,” his first full release album since “CARE FOR ME” in April of 2018. This album has many features from other critically acclaimed artists, such as 6LACK, Smino and G Herbo. The album presents 14 tracks that display dense vocal harmonies, jazz-inspired backing tracks and the articulated verses that Saba is known for.
“Few Good Things” opens with the track “Free Samples” featuring Cheflee. Saba shows off his own writing ability in his verse, utilizing wordplay to personify his depiction of where he grew up. He raps, “A tale of two Chicagos, this gets confused commonly,” which pays homage to Common, who is one of the largest rappers to come from Chicago.
The album had 3 singles release before the full album came out. The first, “Fearmonger,” features Daoud, an artist and producer well known for assisting Saba on a lot of his projects as well as working on the production of late rapper Pop Smoke’s “Manslaughter” and Kelhani’s “Altar.” The song has upbeat guitar chords backed by lively drums and Saba’s voice. Saba’s lyrics talk about how he feels that he needs to watch out for himself, which juxtaposes the mostly happy instrumentals reminiscent of popular 90’s group OutKast.
The second single of the album is “Come My Way” featuring Krayzie Bone. This song is mostly built on orchestral and choral melodies in the background with a jovial drumbeat. The lyrics, similarly to “Fearmonger,” have a more realistic tone, where Saba sings “Yeah, daydreaming thinkin’ how to get some money and then we good, and then we good, and then we’ll be good.” The bars from both Saba and Krayzie Bone talk a lot about how money, in their past, became such a focus that if they had money, all their worries would disappear.
The final single that released for “Few Good Things” was “Survivor’s Guilt” featuring G Herbo. The song is about the struggles of individuals where Saba grew up although Saba has money now. He mentions that his “people need a vacation on an island” as well as mentioning one of his cousins, Walter Long Jr. Long passed away from a stabbing in 2017 and since has been mentioned in numerous songs by Saba including “PROM/KING” and “HEAVEN ALL AROUND ME” from his previous album “CARE FOR ME.”
A highlight on the album is the ninth track, “Soldier.” Saba shows off some of his influences in his rapping style and overall composition with the likes of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Kanye West. The ethereal vocal effects and bouncy lyricism on the verses allow for Saba to do what he does best: soulful rapping over a melancholy backing track.
Overall, “Few Good Things” has highs and lows. Some of the songs personify the same energy and articulate ideas that got Saba famous such as “Make Believe, Few Good Things” and “2012.” Other songs miss that mark in balancing and mixing of various vocals and instruments, such as “a Simpler Time,” “If I Had A Dollar,” “Stop That” and “an Interlude Called ‘Circus.’” Another possible gripe on the album is that it has features on all but two songs in its 14 track run, in which his last studio album, “CARE FOR ME,” only has two songs with features. This doesn’t allow for the listening experience necessarily expected from Saba that slightly misses its mark compared to last projects. “Few Good Things,” in its entirety is a good album, but it is not leaps and bounds better than the previous album, which feels unsatisfying after a four-year-long wait for a new project from Saba.