The Collegian
Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Music Mondays: Who is Ghetto Sage?

<p><em>Graphic by YounHee Oh, The Collegian</em></p>

Graphic by YounHee Oh, The Collegian

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian. 

“Smino Grigi, Noname and Saba the best rappers”

For those who haven’t heard of Ghetto Sage, maybe you know them better individually than together. The group consists of Chicago native rappers, Noname and Saba and St. Louis native Smino. The three come together to create a sound that is usually ethereal. However, in their last single, they’ve opted for a more down-to-Earth sound, with the trap beat replacing the jazzy rap from their group’s previous songs. Let’s talk more about them individually before deconstructing their songs.

Noname – Voice of the Voiceless

Noname’s style of music is euphoric and could be compared to combining the soft melodic sounds of Minnie Riperton with the unstoppable raps of Missy Elliott. Her soft beats are complimented by her even softer voice. The blissful nature of her music does not contradict the more serious topics that she touches on in her songs. Those unfamiliar with her should start with her Grammy-award-winning album, “Telefone” (2016). It’s 33 minutes of masterfully produced songs with a jazzy ambience.

Saba – Our Generation’s Andre 3000

Even without the similar vocal inclinations while rapping, the imagery Saba is able to produce in his songs rivals that of Andre 3000 from the HipHop duo Outkast. Saba’s music is a solid middle ground between the airy and light sounds of Noname and the dark and stark sounds of Smino. The best way to introduce yourself to Saba is to listen to his 2016 album, “Bucket List Project” or his latest work, “Few Good Things” (2022).

Smino – The Paradoxical Poet

Smino’s sound is dark, yet carefree. Regardless of the topics he raps about, or the overall emotion in the beat, his flow is confident and relaxed. His voice is not as strong as Saba’s, but he projects more. His style of rapping is perfect for those who enjoy a fusion of slums rap and bedroom neosoul. Anyone unfamiliar with him should start with his highly lauded album, “blkswn” (2017).

The Ghetto Sage 

Their first collaboration was on “Shadow Man,” off of Noname’s “Telefone” (2016). The song talks about death and its definitive nature. Each of the artists describes how they imagine their own funerals would go. They also talk about the reality regarding the mortality of young Black men and women in America.

Their second collaboration was on “Ace,” off of Noname’s “Room 25” (2018). Ace was to show that Noname, Saba and Smino are the best rap group out right now; the imagery they evoke with their lyrics goes to show why they believe they should be among the top rappers in the world. As Noname proclaims in the song “Smino Grigi, Noname and Saba the best rappers.”

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Their final collaboration was a single put out under the name Ghetto Sage. The single was called “Häagen Dazs.” It mostly took its production from Smino’s sound with verses by Saba and Noname. It sounds less like the group from the previous songs off Noname’s albums. The song really revolves around the profitability of their lyrical abilities.

Noname, Saba and Smino have appeared on each other’s projects with features or production credits. Apart, they are forces to be reckoned with, but together, they are seemingly unstoppable. Now that you’re up to date, you can wait in anticipation with the rest of us. 

Contact columnist Ben Queen at ben.queen@richmond.edu.

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