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Culture Shock

An Introduction to the 2019 Culture Shock Headliner Saba

This year’s Culture Shock headliner brings to the mic a flavor of sounds emerging from the resurgent Chicago hip-hop wave. Saba grew up in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side, listening to fellow Chicagoan artists Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West as he honed his own personal style. And now, Saba is ready to bring his own dynamic sound to the Culture Shock stage.

Saba is a wordsmith classically trained in the tropes of rap. With an innate ability to craft works lasting for anywhere between a 3-minute single to a full-length studio album that communicate so vividly an exact event or feeling, Saba’s primary concern when approaching his next project is how he will tell a story. The tragic passing of his cousin, John Walt, in 2017, deeply affected his subject matter and process for writing and recording ahead of his second studio album, Care For Me.

The bounce of staccato brass and infectious bells is shelved in favor of more somber instrumentals, complete with harrowing synths and cinematic strings, as Saba reflects on the emotional turmoil of that event. Elements of downtempo and jazz serve to flesh out the multidimensional arsenal of flows he has at his disposal, as Saba produces rhythmically diverse verses that leave his punchlines running through your mind for days. It’s this constant reinvention and refusal to adhere to typical hip-hop spacing techniques, such as the triplet flow, in recent years, that drives both those of his tracks of dense narratives and those of contagiously vibrant grandeur.

But before Saba reminded us so powerfully of the harsh realities that so many young, aspiring artists face, he also showcased his ability to float seemingly effortlessly over the top of syncopated, new wave beats. If it’s one thing you can expect from Saba, it is to be entertained in a way you did not expect. He possesses an ear for the most obscure of sounds and crafts them together to make something you can’t help but move to. 2016’s Bucket List Project features some of Saba’s most cohesive and immersive sonic work to date. There is truly something for everyone on this tape and throughout all of Saba and Pivot Gang’s music.

Whether you’re jamming in the shower or feeling down and out, or if you’re in the car with your parents and they want to hear 'some of that hippity hoppity music the kids are listening to these days,’ Saba has the perfect vibe for you. You won’t want to miss his set at Culture Shock this Saturday at Dunn Meadow. With an album with his Pivot Gang collective slated for release later this year and fresh off his first performance on late night television, Saba is destined for the very top.

Saba will play this Saturday (4/20) at 8:45pm-9:45pm for Culture Shock 2019 at Dunn Meadow!


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