Artist Spotlight – Saba

To Be Rare, True & Free

Artist Spotlight - Saba

Deyvion Nichols, Contributing Staff Writer

 What hooks you to a new artist? Is it an infectious flow? An interesting story? Possibly even simply being from a similar area? Well if you like all of those things and more, I’d like to introduce you to Tahj Malik Chandler or better known onstage as “Saba”. Chandler was born July 14th, 1994 in Chicago. The future Saba would grow up on the west side of one of America’s most prolific cities. Around age 7 Tahj would begin learning to play piano which led to him experimenting with different beat making softwares in later years. Tahj was a very gifted learner as by age 12 he’d already start high school. He would go on to attend St. Joseph’s in Westchester and during this period he would begin making his own mixtapes and handing them out in the school’s hallways. Chandler would graduate high school at age 16 and around this age the future Saba would find himself performing at after school open mics like the YouMedia Center and YCA, these experiences would shape how he performs onstage to this day. Tahj would go on to attend Columbia College Chicago, which is pretty much the go to school for people in the area looking to branch out into the fine arts. Everything seemed fine enough until his scholarship was dropped and after three semesters at Columbia Tahj Malik Chandler would drop out of college.

          Saba decided that after dropping out of college, he’d do something that society tends to shun, he’d bet on himself. Come December of 2012 Tahj Malik Chandler would release his debut mixtape, “GETCOMEFORTable”. The premise of his first project would be to highlight up and coming artists who made strides to understand themselves and the world around them simultaneously. This would prove to be a good jumping off point for him as he’d then be featured on fellow Chicagoan, Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap”. While he was not a mainstream chart topper he had at least made a slight name for himself and with this he’d release his second mixtape, “Comfort Zone”, a colorful experience detailing his feelings growing up and how fast he has found his area of success. With the buzz that had been around his name Saba would begin work on his debut album, Saba would release “Bucket List Project” on October 27th, 2016. At 13 songs and a runtime of 50 minutes “Bucket List Project” would be praised…by those who discovered it.

              Making music isn’t usually the hard part of being an artist, that would be getting traction and attention. Saba is not unknown, however his music isn’t what you’d hear on the radio unless he’s being featured on a bigger artist’s track. While in hindsight his rise was quick and meteoric, it’s important to remember that Chandler is still pretty much considered “underground”. While “Bucket List Project” was not a star-making performance he would continue to enjoy his music and the process of making it until tragedy struck in February 2017. Saba didn’t allow his success to only be to his benefit, he founded a collective with his brother, cousin, and high school friend called “Pivot Gang”. In early February his cousin, John Walt Long, would be killed and this would be the backdrop for Saba’s 2018 breakthrough album “Care for me”. Saba’s sophomore album is filled with more emotion than anything he’s made previously as he details struggling with mental health, the pressures of success, and coping with tragedy. Critics would hail this as a near masterpiece and he even managed to reach number 32 in the Billboard Top 50 albums of 2018. Saba would not release another project for the next 4 years but earlier this year he released his third studio album “Few good things”. The project would receive rave reviews and cements Saba as a star that continues to improve with every endeavor.


The Saba story is one of constant improvement within his craft whether people would doubt him or not. When looking at his journey and listening to his music we should take the opportunity to bet on ourselves when it comes to achieving goals.