Studio Time
Interview: Kemet High
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Summer 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

After years of spreading his wings as a respected lyricist, Saba recently landed under those of seasoned beatmaker and fellow Chicago native No I.D. The two distinguished talents have a currently untitled project that’s been in the works for about a year and will finally come out this summer. Ahead of the anticipated release, Saba teases what’s to be expected.

I went through my old files, and I found this beat that No I.D. did. We had a studio session in 2019. I found this beat from that session that I guess I overlooked then. This was a fun record for me to make because I had to give myself permission to just talk shit, to just be who I am in real life on this record. When it turns on I just feel like this one is different from anything else that I’ve put out.

“Black Suburbans”
This is kinda similar to “Back In Office.” I’m going back to what made me fall in love with rap in the first place. It just feels like a classic rap record and not to toot my own horn. More in the sense of aesthetics. Classic more in the sense of sonically. It sounds like it’s referencing things that we grew up loving. That was one of the first ones [I made] and one of my favorites. And easily one of the hardest beats I probably have ever rapped to.

“Headwrap Demo”
This one is about my loc journey. I’ve been growing my hair. I cut my hair. I grew my hair again. I cut my hair again. It’s such a relationship to your hair, and that journey and that process that I don’t think a lot of people know. That was one of the things that inspired me to write this record. It’s just a unique perspective to me. It’s not a song that I’ve heard yet.

“Stomping” is probably one of my favorite songs on [the LP] because it feels like a theme song to me. I just be walking throughout the day sometimes and it’s in my head. That song is kinda important to me because I don’t really have a lot of songs that feel that way. To me, the funnest part about what I do is being able to find interesting pockets. Pockets that complement the beat, but they might be the opposite of what the listener is expecting to hear sometimes. “Stomping” is one of the records where I feel like I’m inside of a different pocket.

The Freshman issue of XXL magazine is on newsstands now. See Finesse2tymesRob49FridayyGloRilla2RareSleazyWorld GoLola Brooke, Central CeeReal Boston RicheyLuh TylerTiaCorine and DC The Don's official Freshman pages. In addition to interviews with all 12 artists in the 2023 Class and Freshman cyphers producer Pi'erre Bourne, it includes interviews with Lil Baby, NLE Choppa, Boosie BadAzz, Toosii, DDG, Saba, producer Go Grizzly, engineer Jaycen Joshua, singer Coco Jones, SinceThe80s' President Barry "Hefner" Johnson and AEW wrestler Swerve Strickland, plus a look back at what the 2022 XXL Freshman Class is doing, hip-hop's love for golfing featuring Scarface, OMB Peezy and pro golfer Harold Varner III, conversations with 10 new artists making noise and a deep dive into A.I. hip-hop songs. You can also buy the 2023 XXL Freshman Class issue here.

2023 XXL Freshman
Travis Shinn for XXL

See the 2023 XXL Freshman Class

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