Welcome to “New Music with Nick.” In this column, I will be reviewing some of the most notable new album releases across various genres, focusing on hip-hop, R&B and pop music. Join me in exploring the ever-shifting landscape of the streaming era.
Few artists possess Saba’s combination of abilities to write, rap, produce and curate such incredible music. Saba cemented his name as one of the most talented hip-hop artists in the world right now after releasing his last album “Care For Me,” a genuine modern classic and nearly flawless record. Ever since Saba really began to come onto the scene of hip-hop with his signature 2014 mixtape “Comfort Zone,” it’s been pretty obvious that he possessed a rare level of talent. The young Chicago rapper’s skill set has only continued to grow since he released this phenomenal mixtape during his teenage years.
Saba’s newest album comes nearly four years after his last formal LP. However, he has kept active over the last few years with a handful of singles, prominent features and work in helping to run and contribute to the Pivot Gang Collective. His singles over the last few years have helped him remain front of mind and prove that his skills are only getting sharper with the passage of time. “Stay Right Here” and “Black Astronaut” offered not only some of Saba’s finest work but truly some of the better singles that I’ve heard over the last four years across all of hip-hop.
“Few Good Things” comes at a very pivotal point in Saba’s legacy as an artist. Following up an album as deep, beautiful and well-executed as “Care For Me” is an extremely tall order, especially for an artist who is still in such a young phase of his career. Fortunately, Saba is such a well-rounded creative that it’s essentially impossible for him to make a bad compilation, which shows clearly here.
One of the greatest aspects of Saba’s independence is his full creative freedom. There are no labels for him to answer to, no swaths of producers and features that he must pull from and no limits to his vision in pulling off masterpieces that fit his inspiration. Everything comes to fruition just as Saba desires, highlighting one of the best creative minds in the world of hip-hop. The production is very fitting and appropriate from top to bottom: not too many beats that will really shock a listener but a collection that is largely cohesive and complementary. The overall album structure and thematics are as intricate as I could have hoped for.
The nuance within songwriting and conceptual buildout was phenomenal and stood out across the entire album. The care with which every part of his stories are told perfectly justifies the four year delay since his last album. For example, “One Way or Every N***a With a Budget” expresses Saba’s happiness with his increased wealth and the benefits that come with having money and the ability to cover expenses for his loved ones. On the track that immediately follows, “Survivor’s Guilt,” Saba details the traumas and horrors that linger with him from his youth and their direct juxtaposition to the situations he presented in the song prior. These thematic links are ever-present, and the entire project comes together to form one cohesive autobiography.
“Few Good Things” is a painting of rags to riches that bluntly disregards false illusions and fairytales of success. The album touches on the wonderful aspects of Saba’s life, the awful things that he’s seen that still burden him, and everything in between. Growing up in Chicago, Saba’s formative experiences have had all kinds of complicated effects on his development that he is still coming to terms with through his thoughtful reflections. Everything that made Saba who he is today is present in “Few Good Things”: the love, the relationships, the violence, the horror, the confusion, the exploration, the beauty.
A lull quality and engaging sound in the middle of the album is really the only thing holding it back from being absolutely phenomenal. From “Come My Way” to “If I Had A Dollar” (with the exception of “Soldier”), the album takes a creative dip and falls short sonically. Especially given the strength of some of the features on these tracks, such as Smino and Mereba, this short section came as a disappointment.
Fortunately, the leadup to this section was fantastic and the final four tracks were equally great. The first five songs and the last four songs run so smoothly and beautifully together, and would have made a nearly perfect album on their own. Songs like “2012” and “Few Good Things” show just the extent of Saba’s prominence as an artist, telling some of the most heartfelt stories and well-constructed art that you can find in modern hip-hop.
Saba’s newest album cements that there are few artists in the genre across the entire world that have his level of talent and artistry. His greatness will last. It’s being built off of deep and foundational aspects that make music and art beautiful and fulfilling, a vision that will always stand the test of time. I truly believe that we will reach the point where Saba is commonly looked at as a modern legend in hip-hop and music in general, somebody that has brought something special and wonderful to the world of music. “Few Good Things” is one of the most heartfelt and well-executed albums to come over the past year, not only in hip-hop, but across all genres.
Favorite Songs: “One Way or Every N***a With A Budget,” “2012,” “an Interlude Called “Circus,” “Soldier,” “Survivor’s Guilt,” “Stop That,” “Fearmonger,” “Few Good Things”
Album Score: 88/100
Check out this Spotify Playlist and like it to follow along with some of some of my favorite songs of 2022 as the year progresses!
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.
Nick Sligh is a Junior from Athens, Georgia, studying Economics and International Relations. Nick is always open to discuss anything relating to music, NBA basketball, and movies/TV. As somebody with a deep interest in hip-hop/rap and r&b music, Nick covers these genres through his articles. Feel free to contact him at nsligh 'at' stanforddaily.com
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