Saba’s Care For Me is in the running for best rap album of the year. Dense, visceral and poignant, the project is a coming-of-age story which features the Chicago rapper navigating being on the cusp of fame with the tragedy of his past. The album also doubles as a memorial for Saba’s cousin, John Walt, who was stabbed to death in February 2017.
“I was listening with one of the producers and he actually pointed it out: ‘Damn dude, all of these songs are about Walt,'” Saba told Rolling Stone in July. “I didn’t even realize… So many people around me and in Chicago are experiencing so many things I described on the album.”
Saba didn’t stray from his heavier tracks during his NPR Tiny Desk Concert, performing album standouts “Busy / Sirens,” “Logout,” and “Heaven All Around Me/Life.” The 24-year-old lyricist demonstrated his infectious charisma and showmanship as he lead his eight-piece band through the highs and lows of his emotional sophomore album. “Fun fact, everybody who is up here was involved in the album and it felt right to bring that same energy,” Saba said, beaming as he introduced each of his band members.
The performance’s crescendo came during “Life,” as Saba’s double-time flow barrels out of his chest while he documents his upbringing. Listen to Care For Me below.