In February 2017, just weeks before the start of his first headlining tour, Saba was struck by tragedy. His cousin and best friend Walter Long Jr., who performed as John Walt, was fatally stabbed coming off a CTA train in Chicago. With a heavy heart, as documented in a feature story by NPR, Saba delivered emotional performances on tours spanning North America and Europe in support of his critically-acclaimed 2016 release Bucket List Project, which Rolling Stone named one of the Best Rap Albums of the year. Proclaiming Long’s birthday, Nov. 25th, John Walt Day, Saba concluded the year with a sold-out hometown concert where all proceeds went to the John Walt Foundation, which he launched earlier in the year alongside Long’s mother to generate funds for local youth with interest in the arts.
Taking a three-month hiatus from social media following John Walt Day, fans questioned Saba’s whereabouts and mental health. Centering his focus on creating new music while working alongside producers Daoud and daedaePIVOT at home in Chicago and at a rented bed-and-breakfast in Oakland, CA, Saba honed in on social anxiety and relationships with family and God as the linchpins of his new album, CARE FOR ME. In the weeks leading up to the April 5 release of the album, Saba shared video singles “BUSY” and “LIFE”, which have respectively been featured in top tier playlists including Apple Music’s The A-List and Spotify’s Most Necessary. CARE FOR ME has earned high critical praise, including being named Best New Music by Pitchfork. Saba is currently spanning North America on his CARE FOR ME TOUR in support of the album’s release.