Midway through the first chorus of his recent hit “God’s Plan,” Drake sings, succinctly yet powerfully, “I feel good, sometimes I don’t.”
While it may be simple, this acknowledgment is also undeniably significant. It’s an indication of positive change for a genre that rarely concerns itself with mental health. On his newly-released album Care For Me, Chicago rapper Saba furthers this progress.
Throughout the concise, 10-track project, Saba explores the topic of depression, but he handles this daunting task with care and precision. Over jazzy and soulful beats, he addresses the personal effects of his cousin’s death, discussing his feelings of grief and sadness. The songs are mainly comprised of vivid stories from the MC’s upbringing in Chicago, but littered throughout are valuable reflections on his experiences battling depression.
For instance, to end his last verse on “Fighter,” Saba says bluntly, “I’m fighting myself to get out of bed.”
On “Broken Girls,” he reveals (to perhaps speak to the disease’s unrelenting nature), “I’m in love with contemplating about the pressure / Conversations about depression.”
And on the album’s lead single and intro track “Busy,” he reflects on the isolation he felt in the wake of his cousin’s murder: “I’m tryna cope, but it’s a part of me gone, and apparently I’m alone.”
During my first listen, I admired Saba’s transparency, which, combined with the impressive lyricism and clean production, immediately signaled Care For Me was a well-executed project. But once I heard the fourth track, “Calligraphy,” I knew the album would, for me, end up holding much greater significance.
Throughout the song, Saba includes lyrics that detail his struggles with his mental health, but this time, he juxtaposes these feelings with messages of hope and perseverance. In the chorus, he repeats, “Write it away, write it away / I just got tired of running away, running away.”
Here, he conveys just how emotionally and physically draining depression is, while also acknowledging that the disease often causes isolation and loneliness. As I (and so many others) have experienced, attempting to overcome these feelings is an inherently difficult task. In short, they forced me to question my worth, and I doubted whether I deserved the care and affection of those around me.
I was lost and despondent.
Like Saba, I recently reached a point where I was tired of succumbing, of running away. This is when I started writing, using music as my inspiration for both my pieces and my overall pursuit of self-improvement. It’s not only cathartic but also empowering. In times of self-doubt, or on those days when I have to fight myself to get out of bed, having an outlet for expressing my feelings is simply reassuring. It’s a reminder of what I’m capable of achieving and—along with ongoing support from friends and family—is one of my main sources of motivation.
As Saba can clearly attest, being able to acknowledge your insecurities is key to eventually overcoming them. In the short few months since I began, writing it all away has already changed my life for the better. Care For Me allowed me to finally come to this realization.
This article originally appeared on Medium.