Saba’s Comfort Zone
-Album Reviewed by Jacob Kresovich–
Saba is a nineteen-year old rapper coming out of the Austin neighborhood in the west side of Chicago, IL. He is a member of the Pivot Gang rap collective and released his debut album, ComfortZone, for free on July 15th . Saba’s music career began when he was nine years old, making beats and crafting his eventual self-defining style. The rapper describes his sound as “sexy space synths,” a concept he explores in depth on ComfortZone.
The album opens with the track, ‘TimeZone.’ Immediately, heavily distorted synths warp listeners to another dimension. Saba introduces himself, asking his audience a string of questions concerning who he resembles and what he might be when he grows up. He answers these questions in a quick flowing verse explaining that, as a kid, he “been quiet,” but that “realest n****s move in silence.” His second verse addresses the latter question with confidence that he’s going to be a successful rapper although he faced difficulties gaining a following until he became a “main event.”
‘Burnout,’ the second track on the album, is Saba’s breakout single featuring Eryn Allen Kane singing the chorus. Saba’s aggressive, choppy flow and creative storytelling exemplify his talent. Next, Saba offers a few bars explaining why he doesn’t venture into the violence-prone south side of Chicago after getting locked out of a girl’s house. Kane’s smooth delivery and melodic chorus balance the lyrics. The singer implores the universe not to “come at [her] with your bullshit/ your nonsense, your issues, can’t handle it.” By the end of the song, both Saba and Kane harmonize on the outro. They explain that every day they “wake up feelin’ good” and seem generally optimistic moving forward with “out of town homies showing love.”
‘Scum’ is the most introspective song on ComfortZone. The beat utilizes progressive piano chords creating a downtrodden tone. Saba opens: “They call us scum, from the city slums and/ they all think we idiot, like we really dumb” showing how the poor are viewed, even in a first-world country. He continues “Our tummy growlin’, they money pilin’, my mommy poutin’… They closed the school that you went to/ and told you that it’s rent due, left potholes where you carpool” again exemplifying the inherent hardships of poverty. This adversity, however, motivates the rapper to navigate the dangers of youth. Cautious for his safety, he labors to take care of his family and rises above his station without having to resort to joining one of the many west side gangs.
ComfortZone is a well-rounded debut album and is an excellent jumping off point for Saba’s music career. The rapper’s youth is apparent throughout the LP, but he often uses it to his advantage. His unique, aggressive flow and production ability are his main strengths, allowing him to stand out from his peers. The fact that most of the tracks on the album feature Saba spitting rhymes as well as creating beats hints at greater talent. If Saba can continue on this path, there is no doubt that he will follow the pattern of success similar to the other young rappers who have recently emerged from Chicago’s hip-hop music scene.
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