We see it happen all the time – heck, we’re guilty of it here at RLGT – but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. The deep, dark, daunting task that I’m talking about? Album reviews that are too soon. Though it is completely situational and you very well might be able to put yourself in the perfect mindset to break down an album after 1 or 2 listens, it’s rare (especially for better-than-average projects). Often times an album’s layers need to be peeled back over time like an onion to be entirely appreciated (because like ogres and albums, onions have layers – word to my guy Shrek).
I say all that to say this: this review of Saba’s AOTY candidate Care For Me by our guest writer Jack Bisceglia isn’t late, it’s just well thought out. (Okay fine, the album came out in April, it’s kinda late too)
Why Saba’s Acclaimed Sophmore Album Keeps Getting Better: Care For Me Album Review
Saba’s 2018 release, Care For Me, is undoubtedly one of the year’s most thrilling bodies of work within hip-hop. Ten tracks that from front to back accurately depict the Chicago artist’s most deep-seated emotions. Compelling, focused, and perhaps most importantly, timeless, the album pinnacles a point that Saba’s career seems to have led him towards.
Bucket List Project, while ambitious and creative, was fairly sporadic and all over the place (perhaps by choice). Care For Me, however, is exactly the type of direction and story that provides what any good Hip-Hop album should: a sense of fluency throughout. The dark and fairly depressing artwork which breathe lifelessness; the extremely detailed and diverse production; and of course, the lyrics within. Saba’s recent misfortunes are depicted with crisp, clear emotional backing.
The album sheds light on his own confusion with the status of his hometown, Chicago, as described in “BUSY/SIRENS”. It offers the raging emotions that he can’t seem to hold back on the most ear-catching cut, “LIFE”, which is deeply strung with an unforgettably aggressive bassline and topped off with an unusually aggressive hook. The deep sentiment heard on songs like “FIGHTER” or “SMILE” offer up the bright side of life that the young rapper can’t seem to connect with in his current state. The two concluding tracks consecutively bring Saba’s seeming confusion full circle. The close of the album is where Saba’s sudden maturity and impressing philosophy tie-in: The death of his cousin changed everything. From the beautiful yet haunting description of “PROM/KING”, to the brilliant bars written from his cousin’s perspective on “HEAVEN ALL AROUND ME”, Saba tackles the demons that have plagued him, while hopefully finding a way to come to terms with them.
Overall, Care For Me provides something that little else has been able to this year: a coherent listening experience that explores the artist’s direction, but is still relatable to listeners. Saba’s deep entanglement in the production of this album creates an immersion into his own thoughts and feelings while still delivering concrete storytelling and lyrical talent. It is simply as well rounded as anything this year. While big-name releases like Astroworld from Travis Scott may offer an atmospheric experience through the remarkable production, or J Cole’s K.O.D, which provides a focused social commentary through outstanding lyricism, few releases have accomplished this complete experience. Lush production, descriptive storytelling, and powerfully written and delivered lyrics make this release 2018’s Album of the Year so far. Will anyone catch up?