The first time Chicago MC Saba got paid to rap, it was 2012, he was about 18, and he netted about 50 bucks for his show. As he explains on the latest installment of The First Time, his subsequent early paychecks were for about the same amount, and over his first several years in music, whatever money he racked up went straight back into his career — at least until 2017.
“In 2017 I started buying stuff — I bought, like, a bunch of Jordans,” he says with a laugh. “I had to stop because I was buying literally every pair of Jordans that I wanted when I was a kid. That lasted maybe three months.”
Elsewhere in the episode, Saba — who’s set to release a new album, Few Good Things, on Feb. 4 — recalls his first ever performances for a crowd, which took place at his school. He made his stage debut either in a play where he portrayed a lawyer — “I felt that I killed it, I don’t know if I can act or not, but I feel like I killed it” — or in an African dance class: “That’s on VHS somewhere, my mama got it,” Saba quips.
He also spoke about making his national television debut when he helped Chance the Rapper premiere “Angels” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in 2015. That noteworthy performance came several months after Saba got the chance to embark on his first real tour with Mick Jenkins, Kirk Knight, and Noname.
“That shit was amazing,” Saba remembers of the trek. “That was some of the first moments where it feels real. You’re playing shows consistently in places that aren’t your hometown. And I was able to see, like, we’re openers here, but some of the people know the words and shit. It was an eye-opening experience. I still be thanking Mick for that.”