Photo credit: Bryan Allen Lamb
“Sound to me is music. I’m one of those music nerds who thinks that there is something beautiful in all music, and I feel like there is music in all sound. Sound is really vibration, and to me good vibration is the most important thing in the universe”.
At a Saba show, when vibrations boom and sharp-witted verses start to permeate the crowd, you better have your hands up and mind in full focus. Tahj Chandler, better known as Saba, the 20-year- old rapper and producer from Chicago’s West Side, joins the city’s new wave of bubbling talent with an aggressive delivery and unmistakable production. Born to a family of musical talent, Saba grew up to the sounds of soul, R&B, and jazz thanks to his father, Chandlar. He began to play piano at the age of seven, and soon after he started to experiment with his sound on beat making software. However, it wasn’t until the young Chandler first heard the legendary Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and other burgeoning Midwest talents that he found his true musical niche and emcee calling, “Hands down my biggest influence was Bone Thugs-n- Harmony. They’re the ones who actually made me like rap and want to do it," he says. At age 16, Saba joined the open mikes at YOUMedia Center and Young Chicago Authors, which he credits with giving him the confidence and charisma to perform onstage. With all these tools in his arsenal Saba has developed a career sound with appeal that spans from the staunchest old-school hip hop heads to a new generation of rap fans.
Saba dropped his first full length project, GETCOMFORTable, in December 2012, featuring production from Thelonius Martin, DJ Such N Such, Ikon, and the rising spitter himself. Soothing, serene, and soaring, the mixtape reflects a coming of age and showcases a catalogue of young Chicago talents who join Saba in trying to make sense of themselves as rising adults in today's world.
In 2013, Saba joined fellow Windy City talent Chance the Rapper with a standout guest verse on the highly acclaimed track “Everybody’s Something ft. BJ the Chicago Kid”, from Acid Rap. That same year Chandler would began work on his sophomore debut, ComfortZone, produced in conjunction with J.U.S.T.I.C.E League’s Cam Osteen (Acid Rap and Vic Mensa’s Innanetape), Chicago trio NAiMA (Dylan Frank, Cory Grindberg, and Ken Ross), and featuring a slew of notable talents such as MC Tree, Eryn Allen Kane, Legit, Jamila of M&O.
ComfortZone was released in July of 2014, and was received with critical enthusiasm and public praise. The 14-track collection is both autobiographical and reflective, a bittersweet window into the young emcee’s upbringing in a culturally rich yet troubled city. With innovative production and hard-hitting lyrics, Saba tries to make sense of his surroundings while maintaining a positive outlook and mindset. Standout tracks include, “Burnout” featuring songstress Eryn Allen Kane ("It's the aural equivalent to a freshly baked apple pie" - Noisey, and DJ Booth's Hook of the Year), as well as “Butter” ("Saba is up next." - Billboard) and “401K”, ("Certain songs are bigger than music." - Potholes In My Blog). ComfortZone not only captured Saba’s undeniable growth as an emcee, but also as a producer, and young adult.