Chicago rapper Saba makes his Australian live debut at the end of November off the back of his critically-acclaimed, grief-stricken sophomore album 'Care For Me'.
Released in April, 'Care For Me' is a record born of immense personal tragedy for Saba as it was written in the aftermath of Saba's cousin and best friend Walter Long Jr (aka John Walt) being stabbed in February 2017 as he exited a CTA train in Chicago.
“I don't want to say it's surprising because I think it's an amazing album,” Saba says of the response to 'Care For Me', “but just considering how serious and how heartfelt it is, it is kind of surprising that so many people are so attached to the record, just like how I am.
“It's really a growing record and I'm just happy people have been perceiving it how I want them to.”
Saba goes on to explain that the process of writing and recording 'Care For Me' was the first time in his career that he felt he was making music just for himself without worrying about what people would think of it. “It was just really me making music for me,” he says.
“We didn't worry about trying to do a single or have a 'crowd' song or anything like that, I was just making it for myself.
“That was the first time I created like that and it was a freeing experience to be able to create what you want, to create exactly how you envision it… and we did it really quickly; it's definitely the quickest album I've ever made and it's the best one I think.”
Nearly two years on from Walter's death, Saba continues to honour the memory of his friend and collaborator by proclaiming 25 November (Walter's birthday) as John Walt Day. The day is marked by a home-town concert that raises funds for the John Walt Foundation, established to empower and enable youth across multiple artistic platforms.
“Last year was the first time we did it and last year was probably one of the better shows I've ever played, and there's just so much love in the room that it's crazy and you almost forget you're at a concert.”
Ahead of the tour, Saba says he's looking forward to connecting with Australian fans – who have been long-time supporters and early adopters of his music. “Australia's always been one of the top countries as far as listeners of my music since Soundcloud, Spotify and iTunes,” he enthuses.
“Australia has always been one of my biggest supporters, so I'm excited to meet a lot of the people who have been supporting me for so long face-to-face for the first time.”
A dynamic artist irreparably altered by the tragic and senseless loss of a loved one, Saba continues to move ever-forward to the next creative project. “I feel like as artists we always have to think about what's next, so we've been back in the studio a bunch,” he says of what comes next for him.
“We've been working on music as a group with my collective Pivot Gang, so we've finished the Pivot Gang album we've been working on, which will hopefully be out early next year or so.
“Then as soon as that's done we're going to get right back to working on new music for me and for everybody else as well. It's just fun to be able to create freely because I think that's where some of the best stuff comes from.”
Saba Tour Dates
Thu 29 Nov - Howler (Melbourne)
Fri 30 Nov - Fairgrounds Festival (Berry, NSW)
Tue 4 Dec - Sydney Opera House
Thu 6 Dec - Woolly Mammoth (Brisbane)