“This is the part when the party is over, but you and your friends know you will not go home.”
Some of my favorite hip hop songs share a common theme, one in which the narrator takes a deep breathe and reflects on the past, takes in the present, and flashes an eye on toward future. It’s not a nostalgic or remembrance record, more like the middle of an uphill hike. The part in which you take a second to stop and look down, taking in how far a long you’ve come. You admire the beauty and the height for a second, then turn the gaze towards the remaining part of the journey. It’s not so much, ‘I made it’ as much as it is, ‘this is what it took to get this high, and through that, I know I can make it further.’
That’s the vibe I get on Saba’s new record, “Stay Right Here”, featuring Xavier Omar and Mick Jenkins. Saba dedicates two verses to the path he has travelled, who started the walk with him, and who he’s finishing it for, most directly, John Walt (Tickets to John Walt Day 12/24). The wordplay is intricate and impressive from technique to topic, I cannot get through 2 bars without pausing and rewinding to catch something new.
Mick Jenkins follows suit with a high quality 12-bar verse that emphasizes the imagery sketched above, “smoking these days, just to pass the time, smoking sometimes just to stare in your face, or just stare in the mirror, I’m scared of standing in place, even the slowest of pace is keeping you on the move.”
Community and support systems take centerstage on the hook from Xavier Omar, and the mood emphasized by production by Saba, Daoud, and daedaePIVOT – perhaps one of the stronger songwriting and production teams out right now. It’s fitting that this is a collaborative record, it further emphasizes the themes of the song and displays some of the exact love referenced on the hook.