PROM/KING by Saba, a two-part saga, is a clearly streamlined story. Initially, the style reminded me of rapper J. Cole, whose songs often follow a storyline: think “Wet Dreams” for example, which follows the story of Cole’s first time having sex. In PROM, Malik — known as Saba — is also a virgin and insecure about it, another parallel to Cole. Saba chronicles the days before his first prom, and how his cousin Walter used his connections to help him find a date.


The cousin’s name comes up often in CARE FOR ME; in fact, the whole album feels almost like an ode to Walter, who was stabbed to death about a year ago. Before his death, the cousins had a musical group together, called PIVOT Gang.


Musically, PROM is laid back; Saba raps calmly over a simple beat comprised mostly of piano and bass. In PROM, Malik is innocent, a high schooler whose biggest worry is getting laid on prom night. Malik loses some of his innocence in KING. The track is faster and ramps up in intensity, as does the subject matter. Saba and Walter are beginning to advance in the music industry, and life seems to be going well. Malik receives a call that Walter and his friends were shot at on the highway, possibly a wake-up call to the dangers that still exist in their area of Chicago. Six months later, he gets another call that Walter is missing.


The song fades out with the lyrics, “Just another day in the ghetto/ Oh, the streets bring sorrow/ Can’t get out today with their schedule/ I just hope I make it ’til tomorrow.”


The story continues in the next track, “HEAVEN ALL AROUND ME.” While each track on CARE FOR ME has its own appeal, I would recommend listening to the album chronologically, as it truly is a story. Saba shows off his lyrical abilities, like writing a screenplay, in a way that is rarely seen in rap today. While I enjoyed his previous album “The Bucket List Project,” and his various features with artists like Noname and Chance the Rapper, I think CARE FOR ME has the potential to bring Saba into the spotlight next to Chicago-native peers.