ALBUM REVIEW: Pivot Gang - "You Can't Sit With Us"

Left to Right: Joseph Chilliams, Saba, Frsh Waters, MFn Melo, daedaePIVOT, squeakPIVOT

While the Saba-fronted Pivot Gang has quietly been making moves in Chicago since 2012, they finally caught worldwide attention with their debut album, You Can’t Sit With Us, released April 19.

The founders of Pivot Gang are Saba, his brother Joseph Chilliams, MFn Melo, Frsh Waters, squeakPIVOT, and John Walt, the cousin of Saba and Joseph who tragically passed away in 2017.

daedaePIVOT and squeakPIVOT are the group’s main producers; the other members are vocalists and writers. However, Saba and the other members dabble in producing occasionally. All hands are on deck; Pivot Gang is a squad that has mastered working together like clockwork. In a way, Pivot Gang almost strikes me as a Chicago remodel of A$AP Mob, with Saba being the group’s A$AP Rocky. Pivot Gang also saliently draws influence from fellow Chicago collectives such as Hurt Everybody and Save Money, with a subtle splash of Chicago-style drill.

Not knowing what to fully expect from this debut album, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been a fan of Saba for some time, ever since first hearing his verse on Chance’s legendary “Everybody’s Something”. Saba is undoubtedly the group’s most prevalent member, really starting to make a name for himself since the release of his 2018 studio album CARE FOR ME. However, I was very impressed by the sheer talent and depth of the Pivot Gang squad as a whole. With this only being their debut album as a group, it is exciting to think about how much more they can evolve and put on for Chicago.

After copiously listening to this album since its release, I have finally decided my Top 5 Tracks. Here goes:

#5: “Bad Boys” (feat. Smino) [prod. daedaePIVOT]

This track honestly took a few listens to grow on me, but it most definitely slaps. The icy beat and unorthodox, energetic vocals from St. Louis prodigy Smino make this track an instant hit.

The first verse from Joseph Chilliams goes insane, featuring some very caption-worthy bars:

“..moving snow like SSX Tricky” (that game was legendary)

“we the bad boys, like Detroit Pistons!”

The additional verses from Saba and MFn Melo solidify this track as a banger. “Bad Boys” may be one of the best displays of raw group chemistry on You Can’t Sit With Us.

#4: “Jason Statham, Pt. 2” (prod. squeakPIVOT & daedaePIVOT)

This track is special. Saba delivered an infectious chorus while switching off bars with Joseph Chilliams and MFn Melo, all three of them in their bags for this one.

The video for this track is just as special, proving the true tenacity of Chicagoans in these cold

ass winters we annually endure.

#3: “Mortal Kombat” (feat. Kari Faux) [prod. daedaePIVOT]

This track is explosively catchy. Saba popped off with no mercy, delivering one of his toughest verses and choruses to date.

“I been on the grind, Rodney Mullen!”

*insert fire emojis*

As per usual, daedaePIVOT came through with a perfectly-fitting, ice-cold beat for Saba, Joseph, and Kari to tear up. This track is mean.

#2: “No Vest” (feat. Mick Jenkins) [prod. daedaePIVOT]

A rare picture of Saba, Mick Jenkins, and Chance

Mick Jenkins x (any Chicago artist) is always bound to be a hit. “No Vest” is further proof of this; Mick Jenkins graced this heavy-hitting beat with one of his hardest verses in a minute, laced with basketball references and squad shoutouts.

Saba, Joseph, and MFn Melo supplied some of their toughest verses on the whole album for this track, refusing to let the tough daedaePIVOT beat go to waste. With the more-than-solid Mick feature, this track is easily one of the highlights of You Can’t Sit With Us.

#1. “Colbert” (prod. squeakPIVOT & Daoud)

"Keep me up on the late night like Colbert.."

This track is undoubtedly the waviest joint on the album, which likely explains why it’s my #1 pick. This is some cruise a blunt with the windows down music at its finest.

The track is essentially a feel-good love song, touching on first-sight infatuation, genuine connection, the troubles of being apart. The extremely catchy chorus makes the song, but the solid verses from Frsh Waters, Saba, and Joseph Chilliams are perfect complements.

If we can be fortunate enough to receive more songs like “Colbert” from Pivot Gang in the future, they will quickly become one of my favorite rap groups. This song is nothing but wonderful.

daedaePIVOT and Saba cookin up

Honorable Mentions:

Hero (prod. Simon, Daoud, daedaePIVOT & Nascent)

Bible (prod. T-Jay, Immy, Daoud & daedaePIVOT)

Studio Ground Rules (prod. daedaePIVOT & Daoud)

Mathematics (feat. Femdot) [prod. daedaePIVOT]

Evan’s You Can’t Sit With Us Rating: 8.75/10

Evan’s Pivot Gang Potential Rating: 9.25/10