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. Taj 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 Chandler, a neo—soul singer in his own right. At the age of seven he began to play piano and soon after began experimenting with his sound on beat making software. However, it wasn’t until the young Chandler first heard the iconic Bone Thugs—n—Harmony 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 todo it,” he says. At age 16, Saba joined the open mikes atYouthMedia Center andYoung 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, 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’s plight in trying to assimilate into the complex and often intimidating world of today.
In 2013, Saba joined fellow Windy City talent Chance the Rapper with a standout guest verse on his highly acclaimed track “Everybody’s Something ft. BJ the Chicago Kid”, from Acid Rap. That same year Chandler would begin to work on his sophomore debut, ComfortZone, produced in conjunction with J.U.S.T.l.C.E League’s Cam Osteen (Acid Rap and Vic Mensa’s Innanetape),the Chicago trio NAiMA (Dylan Frank, Cory Grindberg, and Ken Ross), and featuring a slew of notable talents including MC Tree, Eryn Allen Kane, Legit, Jamila of M&O.
ComfortZone was released in June 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 InMy Blog). ComfortZone not only captured Saba’s undeniable growth as an emcee, but also as a producer, and young adult.