Peep This Joint: Saba – Care for Me Album Review

Filled with an overwhelming sense of grief and emptiness, Chicago rapper Saba unveils the candid experience of losing a best friend over a senseless murder in his sophomore effort, Care for Me.

The album released last year on April 5 and highlights Saba’s emotions over the death of his cousin, Walter Long Jr.

In a time where mental health awareness is higher than it’s ever been historically, Care for Me provides a refreshing and therapeutic musical experience for those who’ve been through similar grief. 

The project begins with Saba singing, “I’m so alone” on the two-part track “BUSY/SIRENS” featuring R&B singer, theMIND. Lamenting over the loneliness of losing his right-hand man, the rawness of the track is palpable as Saba raps, “Jesus got killed for our sins, Walter got killed for a coat / I’m tryna cope, but it’s a part of me gone / In this packed room I’m alone.” 

Saba’s personal grief intimately captures and processes the darker side of mental health issues that individuals worldwide experience and can relate to. Tracks such as “BROKEN GIRLS,” “GREY,” and “LOGOUT” featuring Chance the Rapper explore notions of heartbreak, loneliness, and insecurities over social media.

Tracklist cover from: Genius

Despite these overarching somber themes, Saba skillfully structures and balances the tracklist with moments of light-hearted nostalgia. One track that exemplifies this is the track “SMILE” which recounts Saba’s childhood experience living with his grandmother. In it he expresses his desire to escape the confines of Chicago that remind him of his gloomier days, “All that I am is my family these days / Moment of madness I can’t seem to evade,” and “Our parents’ parents are from the South / And if I make a million dollars / I’ll vacation in the South.” Songs such as these help even out bleak nature of the album.

The most compelling record overall though is the penultimate track, “PROM/KING” which runs a lengthy seven-and-a-half minutes long. Despite the long runtime, the album reaches a climax with Saba at his most intimate and rawest form as he goes from recounting the details of his prom night where he first met Walter to describing his last interactions with him before receiving the news of his untimely death. 

Saba opens up the first part of the song harkening back to his earlier days as a young high school student rapping, “This remind me of before we had insomnia / Sleepin’ peacefully, never needed a pile of drugs.” Over piano keys and minimal drums, Saba flows effortlessly as he gives listeners the rundown on what happened during prom night. The production then switches as Saba turns the subject matter towards reminiscing on Walter’s final days. In the final bars of the song, Saba paints a vivid picture that reveals how he found out the news of his cousin’s death:

“Ten minutes into the session, I got a call from a number/ 

That I don’t got saved, but I answer anyways/

She says, ‘Hello, Malik, have you or Squeak/ 

Talked to my son today? He was just on the train’/

We got in the car but we didn’t know where to drive to

Fuck it, wherever you are my n–a, we’ll come and find you…”

As Saba spits the final verse, the drums on the beat speed up in an anxiety-inducing pace to convey the same anxiety Saba felt in his chest as Walter’s mother reveals to him that Walter is missing. 

Picture taken from: Genius

Overall, I consider this album to be a perfect 10/10 in my books. Through this album, Saba was able to put words into the same feelings and emotions of depression and anxiety that I’ve been struggling to deal with. In doing so, the Chicago rapper was able to produce a body of work that resonates not only with me, but countless other individuals going through times of grief and depression. If you’ve asked what my top rap album of 2018 was, Care for Me takes the spot.

For the love of hip-hop, please peep this joint if you haven’t already!

Rating: 10/10

Written by: Johann Oribello

Peep This Joint: Top 3 Rap Albums From The 2000s

So for this week’s post, I figured I would write on what I personally consider three essential rap albums from the 2000s that y’all have to check out.

The 2000s marked an interesting time period for the genre, as the golden age of hip-hop tragically came to a close with the deaths of two G.O.A.T.s that forever changed the game. But, their deaths did not end in vain as their legacies paved the way for new artists to rise and take the throne. A lot of rappers coming up were hungry to take the mantle and the works they put out during this era reflected that ambition. These projects are not put in any order of importance so don’t mind that. Instead, just peep these albums because they are literally all great albums not just in this era but in general!

1. The Black Album – Jay-Z

Album cover from: Genius

First up, Jay-Z’s The Black Album! Released in 2003, This album was supposed to be his last project ever and revolves thematically around his impending retirement. If you’re a hip-hop head, you know that anytime a rapper says their retiring, chances are they’re lying. Jay-Z during this time definitely seemed serious though as he was laying down some of his hardest verses ever in this project. Take one of my favorite Jay songs ever, “What More Can I Say” where he jumps out the gate in his first verse: 

There’s never been a n‐‐a this good for this long/

This hood or this pop, this hot or this strong/

With so many different flows, this one’s for this song/

The next one I switch up, this one will get bit up/

Before this album came out, Jay already had seven projects under his belt and a few of them were blunders for a rapper of his caliber. Despite that, his last five albums debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts which speaks on the magnitude of his popularity and pen. With some of Kanye’s best beats during his soulful sample era, this project is filled with diverse flows and beats that elevated some of Jay’s best bars. 

2. The College Dropout – Kanye West

Album cover from: Genius

Next up is an album very near and dear to my heart as it is an introduction to one of the biggest enigmas in music today as well as my favorite artist of all time, The College Dropout by Kanye West. His massive impact on the sound and direction of the genre will never go unrecognized. The album that started it all is an exceptional introduction to the polarizing figure that many love and hate today. The College Dropout also marks a monumental shift to a more conscious yet accessible, “suburban” sound compared to traditional gangster records that was dominant at the time. Songs such as “All Falls Down,” “Spaceship,” “Jesus Walks,” and “Through the Wire” all focus more on conscious and substantive lyrics instead of the typical gritty street bars. Nonetheless, this project is a classic 2000s album that inspired and influenced many popular artists today and forever changed the game.

3. Madvillainy – Madvillain

Album cover from: Genius

Speaking of game-changing projects, Madvillainy by the duo Madvillain consisting of artists MF DOOM and Madlib shook the underground rap scene. Madvillainy is every backpacker’s quintessential rap album of all time, and with good reason too. A collaboration album between underground legends MF DOOM and Madlib is every backpacker’s dream and the critical reception of Madvillainy proved just how dynamic and successful the duo could be. The entire project has Madlib on the production boards while DOOM spits at top form. Songs like “All Caps,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and “Fancy Clown” demonstrate his unique flow that makes him a one-of-a-kind artist.

You already know these projects are all 10/10…go peep them!

Written By: Johann Oribello

Big K.R.I.T at the House of Blues

Another week, another concert to cover. This makes me a very happy person. On Thursday, October 3, 2019, I had the privilege of covering the hip-hop legend Big K.R.I.T (Justin Lewis Scott) at the House of Blues.

Trust me when I tell you that this dude has been in the rap game for a long time and is a walking legend. Starting his career more than 14 years ago, he has a list of accomplishments that are staggering.

As a prominent protestor of many of the racial issues that America faces today, he has become a symbol of motivation for movements like #BlackLivesMatter.

He has performed and spoken multiple times at the BET Hip Hop Awards, and even received three nominations for “Rookie of the Year” and “Best Mixtape” in 2011, where his career really started to pop off. 

Big K.R.I.T has elements in his music that show roots to some of the more classic elements of hip-hop, such as deep soulful beats and tongue-twisting lyricism. Collaborating with big artists such as J.Cole and Lil Wayne attests to his impact and respect within the hip-hop scene.

With all of this said, I was super excited to see this man live and get some fire pictures of him! Unfortunately, I was running a little late to the show at House of Blues San Diego. I arrived at about 9 p.m (the time when the headliner usually hits the stage) and picked up my media pass. 

Literally, at the exact second I walked into the main room, Big K.R.I.T. walked on stage to start his performance. Photographers are only allowed to take pictures in the photo pit for the first three songs of the performance, so I hustled my way to the front immediately. The timing could not be more perfect, because if I was even ten minutes later, I would have missed my opportunity to cover the show.

As soon as Big K.R.I.T took the stage, you could tell he had been doing this for a long time. His energy was through the roof. I looked back at the crowd to see all of the audience in the front row singing every single word. He clearly had a bunch of loyal fans. 

He continued the next three songs that I saw with that same energy, moving and bouncing around the stage, rapping his lyrics with a passion that is rare to see. 

After three songs, security booted me out, and that is all that I saw. Being able to see a legend like Big K.R.I.T up close was really great, and I am happy with the photos that I got. 

Big K.R.I.T will continue his “From the South with Love” tour until his last show on November 16th, in his hometown of Atlanta, GA. Check out his music here.

Written by: Justin Neeley
Photos by: Justin Neeley

Tobi Lou at the House of Blues

Up-and-coming artist Tobi Lou delivered a memorable performance that seamlessly merged rap and melodic pop into one lighthearted and fun show on Saturday, September 28.

I arrived at the House of Blues, the hottest venue in all of San Diego, about two hours before Tobi Lou got on stage. A little too early if I must say, as I sat around for an hour before the employees let me in to the event. The show was held on the smaller stage called “The Voodoo Room” which I had never been to before.

The show began with the artist named Lil Trxptendo who brought a lot of good energy into the early hours of the performance. At the young age of 17, Lil Trxptendo has brought his music into the limelight, a feat that he was very proud to discuss in between songs. At one point, he even invited four audience members on stage where they all danced together and had a “woah” off. For those of you unfamiliar, a “woah” is a popular yet easy dance move that has come into the limelight during 2019.

The next artist to hit the stage was Femdot, a rapper out of Chicago. With the recent release of his project 94 Camry Music, the energy was off the charts. His live performance consisted of a mix of hype songs that had the crowd jumping and smooth, introspective tracks about his struggles. 

As I waited for Tobi Lou to come on stage, I stood outside the venue to get a little bit of a break. Sitting there going through my photos so far, I turned to see Tobi Lou, with his easily recognizable four puffs of blonde hair, himself just hanging out with his squad getting ready for his performance. He was approximately 5 feet away for a solid 20 minutes, and I wanted to say “what’s goooood bro can I get a pic” so bad but felt like that would be annoying right before his performance. Maybe I was just too deep in my own head.

Anyways, Tobi started his performance with one of my personal favorite songs “I Was Sad Last Night I’m Ok Now” and it was nothing short of great. The audience had been waiting a long time and knew all the lyrics to every song. He emits a bubbly, lighthearted, yet confident stage energy that was rare to see from an artist that is still considered “on the come up”.

I hadn’t heard of Tobi before going to the concert, but I actually consider myself a fan now. His style of music is right up my alley, and many of his songs have since been added to my go-to playlist. His “Happy + Extra Sad” nation-wide tour will be continuing until 10/20, where his final show will take place in his hometown of Chicago. If you like upbeat, modern rap music with a taste of bubbly pop, check out Tobi Lou here.

Written by: Justin Neeley
Photos by: Justin Neeley