Chicago has always been a major breeding ground for rap-talent; whether we’re talking about the appearance of Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco a decade ago or the newer movement with artists like Chance the Rapper and Chief Keef. On his second mix-tape, ComfortZone, 22-year old rapper Saba, who we first heard on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, shows us that he’s qualified enough to carry his city’s legacy forward.
ComfortZone revolves around Saba‘s experience growing up in a place of violence and struggle that often reminds of Kendrick Lamar‘s Good Kid M.A.A.D City, with Saba trying to stay sane in an environment that is anything but, and focusing on the realities of living “in the hood” rather than glamorizing it. There are often moments when we can relate to Saba‘s anxiety over wanting independence. While he can be aggressive and hard-hitting like on 401K, Saba can also play the storyteller like on Marbles – a track about him bonding with his step-father.
ComfortZone‘s greatest strength, however, lies in the way Saba jumps between flows and tones, putting his versatility on full display. He can be rapid and assertive (Westside Bound), slow and melodic (Scum), and even mechanically rhythmic (Butter). While the album’s production features standard hip-hop synths and rattling hi-hats, they leave enough room for some jazz and soul to produce an organic atmosphere.
Favorite Tracks: Scum, Butter, Burnout
4. Welcome Home
6. For Y’all
8. Westside Bound
9. Whip (Areyoudown?)
10. Westside Bound Pt. 2
12. Comfort Food
13. Tell You
14. United Center