Saba’s 'Few Good Things' Is So Much More Than an Album [Album Review]

Freddie Fine

Saba’s long awaited album Few Good Things is not Care For Me, nor is it music for you to listen to and be sad, or not understand the meaning. This is a masterpiece, quite literally something that should be taught as part of college courses as Saba himself said in a Twitter statement. It is an exploration of Black pain, struggles, and trauma, while simultaneously about the strong bond, joy, and love from family and friends that keeps your feet on the ground. It should be understood in its entirety, in the same ways that ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, Room 25, and Sometimes, I Might Be Introvert should be. They are some of the purest, most easily accessible means of such, yet people still ignore the meaning. So, regardless of whether or not you have been ignorant in the past, take Few Good Things and understand it in its entirety. This album dissection will do such, and I acknowledge writing this as a white man that I cannot fully understand everything that Saba has been through. However, I will analyze each song as what it is, following Saba’s guide which should be used on all forms of Black art and expression.

It is fitting to delve into Few Good Things from the end, with this quote: “Bad things come in threes, good things come, a few.” It is this line from the final track, which also happens to be the title track, that provides guidance on how to listen to the album, making it imperative that you listen twice, back to back, when you first visit it. This dissection will break Few Good Things into four parts as depicted in that line – three parts where Saba struggles with the bad things in life, and one part exploring the good - and further understand why the album is constructed that way. 

Part one: A swift rise to fame

Few Good Things sets off with the melodious, nostalgic intro of “Free Samples” featuring Cheflee, setting the scene of what’s to come with the first three tracks. Saba opens with a reflective verse on growing up on the westside of Chicago, exploring the impact of his grandparents, the divide of Chicago’s north side compared to the west and southside, and introduces the biggest theme of the album – money. 

Saba immediately jumps into two distinctly different tracks, sound wise. However, both discuss how his lifestyle changed when he began making money and the ensuing growth – from being wasteful, living his life carefree in LA, to grappling with how he can best support all of those from Chicago. On “Survivor’s Guilt,” Saba said, “This album’s confessions of a man moving quick wonder he regret it,” encapsulating his thoughts as he transitions into the second section of the album.

Part Two: Reflection and Maturation

It takes a special artist to deliver an interlude that is a top three track on the album, but Saba did just that on “an Interlude Called ‘Circus’.” The combination of pitched up vocals and buttery lines over a mellower instrumental is a prime example of the polished levels of the project. It took almost four years to come together, and across that time Daoud, daedaePivot, and Saba have truly mastered their sound. The interlude is also a moment for Saba to step back from the fast paced action and relive some of the mentally simpler times when there were less worries.

Across the succeeding four tracks, Saba tackles the, “fear as it relates to money in the Black household, a fear that [he is] still currently working through,” as he said when describing the groovy “Fearmonger.” He creates something that can be a guide, viewing his own growth and using it to recognize the larger societal issues while showing others his experiences. 

On “Come My Way” featuring Krayzie Bone, Saba attacks the preconceived notion that money solves all problems on a nostalgic riddled track. It’s an ode to the days where he himself believed this to be the case, yet he realized after his experiences explored in the first part of the album that it was not the reality. “Still” is the first moment where he is able to begin to understand that there are more complex layers than what he had previously assumed. Between 6LACK’s harmonious voice and Smino’s clever wordplay prevails the theme that Saba is still at his core, there for his partner. He advances this further on “Simpler Time” featuring Mereba, where his partner becomes the guiding light on his journey, emphasizing that “the little things matter.” There is much more to life than becoming wealthy enough to get out of Chicago, explaining that, “Money can’t be the security for her.” You have to know what to do with your money, something that Saba didn’t understand on “One Way or Every N**** With a Budget.” All of the newfound understanding and further growth leads into the third part of the album.

Part Three: Comprehension of Wealth

Kicked off by the Pivot Gang assisted “Soldier,” Saba embarks on the final stretch of tracks that analyzes the “bad things.” He begins by exploring the pressure he feels while his partner is beginning to go into labor, realizing that he has always been on guard, never slowing down. This progresses into a comprehension of everything he has overcome in order to arrive at the place he is at right now on “If I Had A Dollar” featuring Benjamin Earl Turner. However, even if he “had a dollar for all the times he failed” he’d be rich, that doesn’t mean he would know how to best manage that wealth. It’s important to be able to slow down and recognize what is happening around you in order to move forward on the right foot. 

These thoughts materialize in “Stop That,” the final conclusion of this chapter as Saba explains what wealth means to him. Before the money comes his prioritization of his work and art, rapping, “If we gotta gamble I bet on myself / All that other shit dangerous,” which is why he took almost 4 years to create Few Good Things and remains an unsigned artist. Saba is renowned for building an incredibly strong career thus far while remaining independent, proving that artistic creativity and freedom is vital to music, more so than the money often thrown at artists in order to give the label control over their releases and records, exploiting their talent for profit. This track is telling everyone to stop, listen, and understand Saba’s journey and message. It ends with an expired phone call, asking to leave a message after the tone.

Part Four: Few Good Things

Saba delivers one of the best three track stretches I have ever heard as he closes out the album, beginning with “Make Believe” featuring Fousheé, picking up right where “Stop That” left off. It opens with a series of voicemails from Saba’s mother, leading into an epistolary style track as he addresses his mother, seemingly responding to the voicemails. He repeats, “Look ma I made it it’s like we dreamed / Look ma I made it it’s make believe,” while looking back at everything he has gone through, recognizing his achievements. He expands this further, explaining, “It’s food on the table I’m grateful / I don’t give a fuck bout a label / Yea they put a mil on the table / But my granny really put meals on the table.” It’s this importance on the smaller things in life that emerges as such a major theme – Saba could take the record deal, yet he is able to acknowledge that money isn’t everything. 

“2012” featuring Day Wave hones in on these small things, using a relationship from Saba’s time at school as an anecdote. Although the relationship is far from perfect, Saba feels complete and happy in the world they are able to create. It is almost revisiting a time before that mentioned in “Simpler Times,” a time that truly was simpler, explained as Saba sings, “Say I had everything I needed, everything / Cause I had everyone I needed.” It is the people that bring fruition, not the money, emphasizing the importance of surrounding yourself with love and those who can be considered family.

Remember how the start of this dissection began at the end, with a quote from the final song? That is because “Few Good Things” featuring Eryn Allen Kane and Black Thought is the epitome of the album, tying all ideas and concepts together. Saba wavers between the first and third person on the opening verse, reflecting on the constant grind it took to get to where he is today. Despite having shown the world his story on Care For Me, he doesn’t view himself as someone who is burning bridges – just merely a messenger, a “concierge” of Black pain. After the journey of Few Good Things, Saba is able to come to the conclusion that through everything, he was just striving for the few good things, exemplified by the line, “Bad things come in threes, good things come, a few.” Black Thought ends the album with a verse about his own journey to success and understanding on how to obtain the few good things.

Technically, there is one last verse on “Few Good Things,” however, this should be considered the first verse of your second listen. Following a transition of nature sounds, Saba continues his very first verse of the album, repeating the final four lines before commencing a framework of his life, this album, as a larger reflection of Black people in America. He began just wanting to make money to get out of Chicago, yet as his life went on he became more aware that there is so much more than this narrative. It’s important to open the roads for yourself and others, and make sure that as you progress these roads don’t close behind. This verse sheds light on all that brought you and Saba to this point on the album, preparing you for a second listen where you can comprehend the topics discussed with more insight.

Few Good Things is more than an album. It is a framework of the issues that have plagued society for centuries, and Saba is writing a paper explaining such. Listen below:

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