“Being slept on, is when not a lot of people have heard your material but once they do, they’ll admit that you’re dope. Being underrated on the other hand, is when your material is out there and everybody sees you, but no one considers you dope enough to be in the top five or whatever,” said a friend of mine breaking down the difference between the two.

I picked her brain on this matter after watching Saba’s Tiny Desk Concert NPR. With a band made up of individuals who played an integral part in the creation of his second studio album, Care For Me which came out on April 5th this year; the band included producers, DaeDaePIVOT and Daoud, with Saba’s father, Chandler on the backing vocals.

Special music projects have been dropping like manna this year, more so in Hip Hop. Saba’s album is one of them and every time I listen to it I can’t fight the thought of how much slept on the Chicago rapper is. On NPR he performs songs from Care For Me, but short as it is, the performance draws you to appreciate the album even more. Its production, musicality and most importantly, its narrative. Like German online music platform COLORS SHOW, you always think you know which is your favourite NPR episode until they release something as potent, yet different but similar because the performers feed off the same vibrations.

I was subjected to nit-picking certain tracks in Saba’s previous work. I can literally listen to Care For Me from beginning to end- it’s cohesive and lets you into the artist’s life before he became a globally recognisable rapper, till now. It sticks like original rezla.

In an interview with Sway, he said he also believes this is his best work (but which artist doesn’t think that about their art?) “…This is the first time where I was like hundred percent confident that I’m making something undeniable and in the last five days, the results seem to be in my favour,” he said. He was on Sway’s Universe five days after Care For Me was released and charted #45 on Billboard.

Chicago is blessed with young talented individuals who have touched the world with their art. From Chance The Rapper, Noname, Mick Jenkins, Ravyn Lanae, Monte Booker and a sea of other gifted creative souls. But Saba’s name isn’t as familiar to many as his peers’-the same peers who feature him on their projects.

With the 10 track Care For Me, he reached a much bigger audience by being emotionally vulnerable-Saba’s rap skills have never been questionable, his musicality was just in deficient of assertiveness. Hence it’s uncomfortable juxtaposing him to the likes of  Joey BadA$$ and GoldLink.

So Saba was fairly slept on, but thanks to the brilliance of his last album people have woken up to Tahj Malik Chandler’s music.  With more eyes on him now, I’m curious to see what will follow Care For Me because only then, do I think we’ll see where the game will rate him. But that NPR performance raised his stock.

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