Saba on being different from the typical Chi-town rapper and how it helped him stand out

You may not have heard the name, but this past fall Saba dropped one of 2016’s more stellar projects with his debut album Bucket List Project. A few weeks ago the Chicago MC managed to cross another item off his bucket list when he sat down with the legendary Sway for an interview.

The twenty-two year old has steady been putting in work (dropping his first mixtape back in 2012) and as he honed his craft, his city was going through the “drill” rap phase. Staying true to his own merits, he was able to avoid the notorious street life that’s plagued Chicago’s youth and was able to carve his own niche as an artist in the process.

“Around thirteen, fourteen where everybody starting to bang and do all of this crazy shit, I’m studying; so all I can really talk about is my experiences,” said Saba.

“Chicago is just like a lot of other places where you know, being a teenager in the city it’s real easy to get caught up in a lot of the bullshit, a lot of the gangs, a lot of just violence in the city and stuff like that. I mean, I went to school in the ‘burbs you know, I’m from the hood but it’s like everyday I was able to leave, go to the ‘burbs, see different shit; I had different experiences than a lot of my neighbours.”

The street life of Chi-town would strain a few friendships for the young rapper, due to his friends’ older siblings getting into trouble and it affecting their lives.

“I’m thirteen, fourteen, I hoop with all these niggas everyday, play ball everyday and then it was like over the midst of one summer I watched a lot of my friends whole lives change,” said the rapper.

“I think for me it was kind of a crazy position because I was witnessing a lot of people who were close to me kind of drift. Now it’s like we don’t really talk and stuff like that, it’s just different lifestyles you know, walk past them on the corner or whatever and it’s like you don’t even know em; you might see em and nod what’s up but that’s it.”

Growing up in that sort of environment would further isolate the already introverted Saba, but that experience ultimately helped him find a tone to set for his album. He said the seclusion allowed him to observe the world as a whole, and realize things will keep happening whether you’re there or not.

A breath of fresh air for the hip-hop world, Saba discusses how the title of his Bucket List Project was inspired by a combination of the death of his uncle, his city and a hoopty, why having Lupe Fiasco appear on his album was such a big deal for him, how he was forced to grow up at a young age due to his mom’s depression and even kicks a freestyle among other things. The full interview and freestyle can be viewed below.