What do you think it means when Saba says: “I don’t tell the truth so ya’ll will feel sorry for me, I don’t write this shit so ya’ll will feel God comin’, I don’t get down like that”? It reminds me of another set of lyrics from another artist, and I think this is what it means: “I give a damn if any fan recall my legacy, I’m tryna live life in the sight of God’s memory.” What I think Saba means is something isn’t being done for fame or rewards; something is being done because it fulfills a higher purpose. CARE FOR ME, the fourth album by Saba, is that kind of something.
CARE FOR ME is a heavy, very poetic listen. See, this album is dedicated to his late cousin, and Saba is actually, factually, lyrically gifted. On this album, Saba manages to speak to, about, and through his cousin, about life before and after his death. The higher purpose alluded to at the beginning of this review is closure on a life taken too soon, and growing older, without going crazy, despite a history like this.
Perhaps suggested by the grey tones on the album cover, CARE FOR ME is life as Saba sees it. He’s as honest as black and white. Every song is about something that’s happened in his life, his take on things, and you find him being vulnerable, but it doesn’t suggest weakness. Whether he’s talking about love in the social media age (a recurring theme in the hip-hop game), the honesty artists compromise, or the story of him and his late cousin, Saba is honest to himself, first and foremost.
It’s not all a personal affair, however. Keeping pace with the generation’s need to rage and mosh, “LIFE”, is a short, intense song about life in the crosshairs. Whether it be street beef, institutional prejudice or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, “LIFE” fills you up with so much energy to fight back you’ll be surprised that you ever thought you could disappear in the first place.
What effect does CARE FOR ME leave you with? On the penultimate song PROM / KING, Saba talks about the start of the friendship between he and his cousin, how they came up together, and how he learned he’d passed. Saba tells you this story with all clarity, and with all sincerity, all without tripping over his vocals, being redundant or losing focus. It makes you ask: how does anyone who has lost someone retread that story? And why? Remember the opening lines, and realize he’s told us why: “I got tired of running away, everyone leavin’, I write’em away.”
Saba is finding light at the end of the tunnel and gearing up to give us more. On the ultimate track, I believe speaking as his late-cousin, Saba closes with this: “I promise ya’ll I’m not a ghost, look there’s heaven all around me.” Saba’s not ready to disappear, and I don’t think he should.