Trap music is the sound of the decade. Its origins can be found in the early works of T.I., Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, each of whom are from the city of Atlanta, GA, the undisputed home of trap music, and contemporary Hip-Hop. Another similarly gritty, yet distinct style of rap comes from the mid-west, Chicago’s drill music. Artists like Chief Keef championed the sound in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and its influence can still be heard throughout the country.
Though drill music is certainly Chicago’s most famous musical export of the last 10 years, another style has found its way in and out of the city. The jazz and soul filled music of Kanye West has influenced his fellow Chicagoans and aided acts like Chance the Rapper in reaching a wider audience. Chance’s breakthrough second mixtape Acid Rap featured many Chicago rappers who would go on to make names for themselves in the music industry, including Noname, Vic Mensa, and Saba, each of whom have released excellent albums in the past few years.
A Native of Chicago’s west side, Saba is a standout on that list. 23-year-old Tajh Malik Chandler has been making waves in the scene for a few years now. His first album, The Bucket List Project, which debuted on his own record label, Saba Pivot, LLC, was very well received, and left the masses hungry for more of his thoughtful, jazzy rap style. Saba did not leave this void open for long, releasing another album on the same label in April 2018, titled CARE FOR ME. The relative youth of the album has not stopped it from having critical praise heaped onto it for the past few weeks, and one listen will dispel any previously held doubts the listener may have possessed. The album is a short yet powerful statement from the unique perspective of Saba, a fiercely intelligent lyricist with a proclivity towards only the best jazz/neo soul instrumentals.
Saba recently embarked on the “CARE FOR ME tour,” which began on the East Coast, and stopped at the Fillmore, in Silver Spring, MD, on April 14, 2018. The popular venue had its upstairs portion closed, and its floor was somewhat sparse, highlighting the small amount of people that had come. The hundreds who had showed up, however, were in for an incredible evening. Saba’s opening acts, some of which are his label mates, were just as entertaining as the main act, providing both music and levity throughout the show.
The final opening act, Joseph Chilliams, was especially notable. His lyrics were clever and often laugh out loud funny—something the audience ate up. In between his songs he would take the chance to address the crowd, tell jokes, and talk about his music. Several of his songs had a Mean Girls theme to them, which were quite well received by the young audience. Chilliams rapped, danced, and sang his way through his set, managing to keep the crowd in good spirits throughout.
When Saba finally took the stage, the youthful, diverse crowd roared. After a couple songs, he drew the audience’s attention to the stage decorations, much of which had blended into the background to this point. The DJ and instrument tables were disguised as cabinets, an oven, refrigerator and kitchen table. Saba explained, “I wanted to take y’all to where I grew up at. This my grandma crib.” He added that this was the same house featured on CARE FOR ME’s bleak, monochrome cover art. “All of this shit is very important and very special to me.”
For the remainder of the evening, Saba took his audience on a journey, mostly comprising of songs from the new album. With each track, the audience grew to love Saba even more, relating to his words and swaying to his instrumentals. The CARE FOR ME album, despite being only a week old, had already been memorized by several dozen of the concert’s most devoted attendees.
While Silver Spring, a city situated just outside Washington, DC, had a lot of love for the artist on stage, Saba also took the opportunity to heap praise onto the diverse city, offering that it was one of his favorite places to perform. As Saba continues his CARE FOR ME tour, audiences are sure to be continually delighted by his passionate performances. Able to display both boundless energy and restrained intimacy, Saba has finely honed his stage presence into a wonderful spectacle.
These incredible photos from Saba’s performance at the Fillmore, in Silver Spring, MD, on April 14, 2018, were taken by StayUp.News senior content producer and photographer Jack M. Angelo:
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