Tag Archives: neosoul

Album Review: West-Chicago Rapper Saba Unleashes New Bucket List Project

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The Austin, Illinois native brings hope and energy to his neglected neighborhood with poetic lyrics and organic production dripping with neo-soul

2016 has been a year filled with soulful projects stemming from young Chicago artists, including; Noname’s ‘Telefone’, Mick Jenkins’ ‘The Healing Component’, and of course Chance the Rapper’s explosive ‘Coloring Book’. Saba, an independent poet-turned-rapper, has consistently collaborated with each of these artists, and on his new ‘Bucket List Project’ (Released October 27) he establishes his role in Chicago’s progressive music scene. This project is the follow-up to the 22-year-old’s 2014 mixtape, ‘Comfort Zone,’  which highlighted his creative storytelling and impassioned beat selection. 

A bucket list typically consists of goals and aspirations one dreams of achieving in their lifetime. On his new project, Saba pushes the importance of utilizing ambition through lyrical anecdotes and scattered voicemails regarding the bucket lists of various friends and fellow musicians. Luscious production provided by frequent collaborators Phoelix, Cam O’bi and Monte Booker serves as a perfect backdrop for the album’s poetic reflection on West-Chicago’s repressed neighborhoods. Tracks range from warm and intimate to blunt and intense, but remain focused on inspiring optimism in “the part of the city that they don’t be talking about” to quote the fiery track, ‘Westside Bound 3.” Saba addresses the influences of childhood experiences and relationships in songs like ‘Church / Liquor Store’ and ‘Stoney’ while demonstrating his determination to chase his dream. By speaking on the obstacles obstructing his hometown’s community, Saba finds beauty within the struggle and poetically reinforces the prospect of a brighter future on tracks like ‘Most’ and ‘California.’ All in all, the vibrantly vivid ‘Bucket List Project’ encapsulates the importance of fulfilling goals and living life to the fullest while reflecting on the difficulties of developing in a harsh environment. I highly encourage curious readers to give this innovative project a listen, you won’t be disappointed! 

Listen to Saba’s ‘Bucket List Project’ here

Favorite Tracks: Photosynthesis (ft. Jean Deaux) // Church/Liquor Store (ft. Noname) // Bucket List (ft. Matthew Santos)

Robert B

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Quick, what’s cool? JUNGLE

We should kick it with Jungle.

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So these guys are not what I usually cover, lots like Doja Cat. They’re
funky and psychedelic and have this element of retro, disco dance pop, but they’ve
got soul. This isn’t all natural acoustic, it’s very artificial, but they’ve
got these reminiscent elements of other funky co cats like Electric Light Orchesta,
MGMT,
the Bee Gees, and maybe even Prince.

It’s hard to categorize. They are hard to put into a box. What do I want to say? Indie electro R&B? Modern
soul? I don’t you know, you decide for yourself.

“Time,” a track that I particularly like on
their 12-track debut album, Jungle
(which released just this past July), is on the lighter dance pop side of their
album.  I think their best part is their
chorus of  “Say it again/Just hold on tight/Don’t let in,
yeah/I’ll run alright/Don’t let me/Oh just let it out,” but not for their
lyrical creativity. This song, like every other song on the radio is computer
generated, filled to the brim with pinched falsettos, slap bass, and crazy
instrumentals. It’s euphoric and filled with funk.

These guys also just make great music videos!

And for the most part, that’s how a lot of this album works. I’m not
getting the sense that these guys really dig their fake horns and electric
funk. They like getting people to want to get up and groove. And  I dig that. What they do lack, however, is a
sense of creativity. Lyrically, it’s very repetitive, and even composition
wise, “Busy Earning” is so similar to “Time,” as is “The Heat” and “Platoon.”
It gets to all be the same.

Is this bad? Yes and no. Jungle is new duo, made up of childhood friends, Tom
McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson. They’ve been kicking it since they were nine
years old. I can sense the chemistry, and I’m glad the two are working
together, I like their vibe. Creatively, they have a long way to go,  but they’re old enough producers to realize
that the debut album that they do have is solid and work their way up

We do get a little something different when we hit tracks like “Drops” and “Julia.”
There’s some more bass in there, and instead of just dance funk, it’s gets a
little soulful and mournful. I love when “Drops” hits, “I’ve been loving you
too long.” I’m getting some tastes of Paolo
Nutini
-esque blues in there, and I like the turn from dance pop to some
serious soul.

“Julia,” is the best track on their debut in my opinion and I think a track
they put some serious effort it. I love the overlaying, faded vocals, that
goddamn organ playing in the background, and the rhythm they’ve got going. It’s
a little darker, it isn’t really a song to groove to, but it’s a lovesick,
lovelorn track where I can fully see where these guys are going. They’ve can do
downbeat jazz.

And their video, choreographically is amazing. These guys like modern
dance. Check it.

They’re disco, and they’re not really disco. They’re funk and soul and
electric. They’re party music at times, and then at other times, they’re jams
you have existential conversations to. They start their South American tour soon and I’m bitter I won’t be in Santiago, Chile jamming out, but I hope when they release some new grooves, I’ll be with them live.

Check out their album on Spotify. It’s a solid debut, they’re solid
Londoners. And they make solid music videos, which is what’s important, right?

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Ariana Rivera



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