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Saba’s Two New Singles “Mrs. Whoever / Something in the Water” Are Mourning the Absence of Radical Change

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Saba is back on the scene with two brand new singles, “Mrs. Whoever” and “Something in the Water” – along with a surprise feature from Denzel Curry. Saba in both of these new tracks is addressing and contemplating notions of change and stagnation – like a repetitive cycle, he’s trapped in a circle of watching things he wished to have grown remain motionless and stuck.

It’s as if Saba is pouring energy into relationships like a plant, watering and shedding light onto them, but each day he returns to see their leaves brittle and dry. There is no blossoming unfolding around him – just an abundance of more death, a stationary energy that keeps being recycled.

This craving for change and movement that Saba is speaking on within these two tracks is something we can all deeply connect to right now. We sit in limbo waiting for something to be revealed:  for clarity, for action, for justice, for healing. 

However, Saba is making it clear that he does not wish for a change that will beckon the past ways of a pre-COVID world to return. This change he is calling for is not for us to immortalize the past, but rather to abandon familiarity and complacency. 

Photo Credit to Testset

Saba is praying for radical, revolutionary change to ensue. He is subtly hinting on the limbo period our country is in as we take persistent action towards dismantling racist systems and institutions.

Although it takes time to kill such venomous structures that have been ingrained so deeply within our country’s society – patience and hope feel unattainable at times. Saba is waiting for the action to sprout wings – to peek open his eyes and hopefully rise to a whole new world.

The stagnation of a lack of quick change unearths intense feelings of frustration and restlessness. The more time we try to remain patient in the lack of arrival of justice and radical change – it seems the more desolation, tragedies, and racial violence are being replaced instead. 

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Sonically, the two singles could not be more juxtaposed. “Mrs. Whoever” tackles the more despairing, hopeless side of what feels like a perpetual stalemate in life. The chords are methodically slow, like a train that refuses to move – soul vocals come in and out of the beat like headlights.

The beat’s simplicity allows for Saba to do what he does best – experiment and perform flows that are cunning and captivating. The sonic renditions of a more drowsy beat allow for this metaphor of a lack of re-birth and progress to be lamented.

Saba is also speaking on a lack of positive change and growth within his friendships and intimate relationships.

He signs on the chorus, “Mrs, Mr. whoever I pray, all the time, all the same. Sadly I see things I thought would change. All the time, all the same. I don’t want shit, I just called to say. How’s your day? Can’t complain, my phone open to you, all today. Work two ways.”

Saba has been known to touch on a lack of intimacy and reciprocity that he feels is present in his relationships. His 2018 album, Care For Me, was a literal plea for more care, more nourishment that he was yearning for from his loved ones, from the world. 

Saba doesn’t even know now who he is reaching out to anymore – who is on the other line, and who is even hearing his prayers anymore. The cover art attached for these singles has an image of an old, red cord telephone that is resting on a velvet nightstand. Saba’s hand clutches a tiny cup of water with a white flower sprouting out. He is waiting and waiting on a call, on growth, on a sense of connection to arise. 

This inherent sense of waiting that takes place on “Mrs. Whoever” acts as the impending climax for the second single, “Something in the Water” featuring Denzel Curry. That sense of frustration and impending doom is sonically represented in this track through an ominous, rough instrumentation where the drums are innately highlighted.

This intuitive hunch that change is approaching is communicated in this track strongly – like an alligator lurking amongst murky water. “Something in the water” doesn’t only allude to the unpredictable nature of change, but also to the presence of illusions and deception. Saba and Denzel Curry both spit on the surplus of fakeness and lack of authenticity – a performative demeanor that he sees people adorned in. Saba addresses that their false guise is as clear to him as fresh water.

Photo Credit to Chicago Tribune

Denzel Curry is the perfect feature for this track, his typical aggressive approach to the bars supports the irritation that arises from having to constantly call other people’s bluff. 

Saba raps on the hook, “I see somethin in the water. They don’t lead us, but they follow. No surprise the ship goes down. I see somethin in the water, ain’t no subtle way to call it. You get caught up and it goes down. I see somethin in the future. They don’t like us, but they use us.”

It’s a symbolic image that Saba leaves us with – of him sailing treacherous waters in search of a lighthouse. At a time where we are constantly seeing things both drown and rise to the surface – a prayer for re-birth and radical change to Mrs. Whoever is being called upon. Now we must wait for a current to shift as we keep our eyes focused towards calmer waters.

Maddy Ipema
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