The Chicago hip-hop artist comes through the Paradise next Friday
Coming off a four-year break from his last LP, rapper, songwriter, and producer Saba’s third full-length album Few Good Things features hip-hop legends Black Thought and Krayzie Bone alongside modern r&b mainstays Smino, 6LACK, and Mereba. Overall, the project is studded with smooth production, unique samples, and introspective lyrics.
“The concept of Few Good Things is the realization of self after a search for exterior fulfillment. It is the satisfaction and completeness you gain by simply living a life that is yours,” Saba told the media around the release date.
Having always been transparent inside and outside of the studio, Saba also released a short film highlighting some of his music and the inspiration that went into the production. There are scenic shots of Chicago’s West Side, and parts where family and friends bring narration while music fills the background. Themes of loss, anxiety, success, and fatherhood all emerge in the thoughtful companion film.
On the album side, Few Good Things opens with “Free Samples,” a soulful, orchestral track featuring Cheflee that slowly builds into Saba rhyming about providing for his family and reflecting on his troubled past in Chicago. While it serves primarily as an intro, the track sets the tone that Saba’s undergone a great deal of introspection since his last LP in 2018.
The first full track glides along the same tone as the introduction with a melancholy guitar sample and harmonized vocals layered on unique percussion. The drums are slightly cluttered in terms of percussive variety, but there’s a lot to appreciate in his upbeat lyrics about finally being able to provide for family.
“Survivor’s Guilt” transitions the album from smooth neo-rap to a bassier trap-inspired sound. Fellow Chicago native G Herbo is featured and provides a solid performance, though his vague lyrics about gang violence seem to counteract the message that Saba portrays in the first half of the song.
Moving forward, the three-track stretch of “Fearmonger,” “Come My Way,” and “Still” make for the strongest section, with three solid, simple beats and lyrics about the fear of failure, poverty, and heartbreak. Saba flexes technical ability with a quick, upbeat flow while reinforcing the motif of losing it all in his lyrics: “I’m just scared to go back, didn’t have shit to eat / Half my bread go to taxes, the actual thieves.”
“Come My Way” is a somber, thoughtful joint with a rare feature from Krayzie Bone, a member of the prolific hip-hop group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and a personal inspiration to Saba. He and Krayzie deliver solid bars about personal struggle and supporting their families, with the track serving as a transition into the slower, more purposeful portion of the album.
The most popular track at the time of the album’s release, “Still,” captures the anxiety and uncertainty following a breakup. Featuring 6LACK and Smino, it’s full of heartfelt lyrics and has one of Saba’s best verses on the album. The lines—What’s the real world? / When you with me, you take off your cool / Admittedly, yeah, I do too—show Saba’s vulnerability, which he expands into a complete verse about his personal struggles in a relationship that he had to put on hold until he was in the place to properly appreciate it.
Saba’s tenderness returns in “Soldier,” where he reflects fatherhood over a smooth, driving soul beat. His lyrics flow akin to André 3000: tight, punctual, heartfelt. Saba’s able to blend his anxiety about being a dad with the love he feels for his child in a way that encapsulates the reality and human understanding in his music.
The album closes with the title track, “Few Good Things,” a seven-minute long experimental piece featuring icon Black Thought. While Saba delivers another two passionate verses, Thought carries the track. And why not? If you’re going to let someone show you up on your excellent debut, it might as well be one of the best MCs of all time.
Saba’s The Back Home Tour at Paradise Rock Club, Boston. Fri, 4.29. Tickets at livenation.com.