Kellen Fredrickson // Evan Dale // Sep 18, 2018
As two of the founders and creative minds behind this magazine, music and fashion have always been longstanding points of connection for our friendship. SAINt JHN - Brooklyn's self-described rap god and purveyor of some of hip-hop's most noteworthy fashion choices - is an undeniable hero to us both. Naturally, his 2018 debut, Collection One came to be one of our favorite projects of the year and it, along with a tour, countless singles and features, and an explosive amount of global notoriety made SAINt JHN an easy choice for last year's Best New Artist.
En route to his new album, Ghetto Lenny's Love Songs, there was no doubt that it was always bound to be unexpected in its experimentation and stylistic maneuvering. There was also no doubt that it was bound for greatness, although seemingly, it's great regardless of which stylistic lane it is that a listener loves about SAINt JHN.
Such is an adjective very few artists of our generation have succeeded in attaching to their body of work.
It takes a lot of ingredients to achieve such a distinction. It certainly isn’t made overnight. Refinement is an absolute must, and the paradox of finding a sound that is truly unique and at the same juncture irresistibly unmistakable is something that some may pursue in perpetuity without ever reaching.
It turns a musical canon from a compilation of random sound into an interwoven network of sonic identity that you can’t help but vibrate with.
One could say that these artists are able to draw the most devout fanatics the industry has to offer. In some cases, one could even see these followers as one hopelessly addicted collective of individuals.
From this foundation, it becomes quite plain why a personality such as SAINt JHN would garner cult status after only his second formal project release of his career.
This publication knows just how extensive his body of work in music is to this date, yet his translation of this substantial experience poured into his solo career in hip hop is undoubtedly just as, if not more, impressive.
Collection One taught us that we should expect an unmatched level of unmatched ratchet divinity and sonic creativity from the tandem Brooklyn/Guyana native. But what we got in Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs proves that a focused SAINt JHN has only further refined his trademark sound, but he’s done it in a new way that continues to push the boundaries of the genre.
If there’s one thing that the man doesn’t lack, it’s confidence.
That shines through in GLLS. It’s hard to imagine that SAINt JHN released his debut album just last year. Yet he already possesses a level of polish and a magnetic draw to his music that a select group of artists in the industry have come to know.
If you have a keen ear for hip hop, SAINt JHN is truly an anomaly. One could say he is to hip hop what Elton John was to rock n roll.
The quintessential epitome of ignorance. And I can’t get enough.
Each track is catchier than the last, and my personal favorite has to be 5 Thousand Singles. The eclectic and electric personality of SAINt JHN shines through as he weaves his way through precise lyricism and fantastical storytelling, all in a fashion that makes you want to headbang until your neck breaks.
Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs makes me want to go to the hardware store, buy 20 cans of spraypaint, and graffiti red crosses and Christian Sex Club across every façade in the city.
Punk and unforgiving ignorance coalesce into a perfect sauce of sonic goodness. And it gets wrapped in a sexy compliment of well thought out tracks. I don’t just think this album is incredible, for me it’s easily a frontrunner for album of the year.
You can’t deny SAINt JHN the glory he pursues. It’s futile to argue that he won’t reach the meteoric status he so obviously deserves.
Star power like his does not come along often. It took some time in the shadows, putting in the work behind the scenes. But now the spotlight is his, and he is not squandering the opportunity.
Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs is not a project to miss this year. And SAINt JHN is not an artist you want to sleep on.
We’re already believers here at RNGLDR. And though he’d argue it’s “Not A Cult”, SAINt JHN’s fandom continues to amass in droves.
GLLS proves that it’s either time to get on the bandwagon, or to get left in the dust.
We know where we’ll be.
We live in the era of artistic range. Where well-roundedness has long been the mark of personal growth, the pace at which musicians in the modern realm expand the reach of their talent is outlandish. One case has been particularly unprecedented of late. As Brooklyn’s SAINt JHN has exploded onto the scene over the past couple of years, it’s been remarkable to see just how talented the hyphy hip-hop star is. A self-described (and aptly-so) rap god, SAINt JHN is also the talented streetwear designer of his own brand, Christian Sex Club, a songwriting force for credits from Rihanna to Usher, and now with new album Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs, a bona fide presence in post-genre R&B adjacency.
His debut album, 2018’s Collection One, was an exploration of energy bubbling over with high-fidelity production, party anthems, admirable star-power, and ignorance. And though moments taken from the project – Selfish, Reflex, Some Nights, and the majority of choral deliveries – exhibit a clear natural knack for vocals and emotionality, Collection One is first and foremost an exploration on SAINt JHN’s take on hip-hop music.
It’s nearly impossible to say the same thing about Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs. Though occasionally exploding with SAINt JHN’s unquenchable energy (Trap, 5 Thousand Singles, All I Want is a Yacht), GLLS is an appeal to SAINt JHN’s most romantically introspective sensitivities. And somehow *shout out to his inner creative transcendentalism* it doesn’t falter in any way. Even when weighed against Collection One: a project that’s now considered a reinvented future trap classic, GLLS parallels in quality and intrigue.
The entire project is a bold risk but take a 30-minute stroll through SAINt JHN’s social media presence and ask yourself if that’s ever held him back before. The man is a starry figure of pushing boundaries, so presented with the opportunity to push those which mean most to him, he thrives in going above and beyond. On a personal scale, Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs is everything that I, and other fans with an ear like mine, could have asked for. Selfish – SAINt JHN’s 80’s inspired romantic ballad – is still a takeaway favorite from Collection One and Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs feels like a dedicated exploration of that same, softer-edged spectrum. Mix in a year of touring, featuring, and centeredness under an immeasurably bright limelight, and SAINt JHN is nothing if not a figure of growth and yes, well-roundedness.
Comparisons are pretty useless when delineating his auditory aesthetic, and a lot of the reason behind that is because SAINt JHN is an early proprietor of post-genrefication. He, akin to a barrage of other artists in the modern sphere, have too much wide-ranging talent to adhere to any stylistic organization of the past. Instead, he, better than any other artist even today, transcends.
A particular stretch of Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs shines to fans like me who appeal to his knack at folding emotive ballads into his young canon. Who Do You Blame, 94 Bentley, I Can Fvcking Tell, Borders, Call Me After You Hear This, and Trophies come to subsist as the purest of examples on a SAINt JHN approach built on foundations of R&B and Neo-Soul, without committing to either. They’re raw in impassioned detailing, gorgeous in vocal range, painfully relatable in penmanship, and new to music altogether.
Even a decade ago, it would be impossible for one artist to follow up that six-pack of poignancy with the bottle-breaking energy of All I Want Is A Yacht. But that’s just another reason why SAINt JHN is THE quintessential artist of now. At a musical moment defined most by those artists who can do it all, SAINt JHN with Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs is doing the most.