“Roses (Imanbek Remix).” Even in pandemic occasions, it’s omnipresent. The track, by SAINt JHN, is a smash, the sort that solely comes once-in-a-lifetime for some artists: peaked at quantity 4 on the Billboard Scorching 100; virtually 194 million views on YouTube; 3 million TikToks utilizing it as a background monitor; greater than one billion streams on Spotify. That billion requires some addition—mix the Imanbek remix, the remix with Future and the different remix that includes J.Balvin (which hit primary on the Billboard 100), plus the unique 2016 model of “Roses.”
That four-year-old model is a grim providing, with a video that reveals a hospital affected person being stabbed in a hallway. Then, in early 2019, an at-the-time 19-year-old Kazakh producer named Imanbek Zeykenov coloured over the darkness by ratcheting up SAINt JHN’s echoed vocals to an unrecognizable pitch, holding them afloat on buoyant synths. “It was an aggressive track that grew to become simply enjoyable,” SAINt JHN says. “[Imanbek] made it accessible.”
Till then, his greatest hits weren’t actually his. He’d written a legion of tracks for different artists, like Usher and Beyonce, whereas ready for the highlight to swing his approach. When “Roses (Imanbek Remix)” went supernova, SAINt JHN had a two-album again catalog that thousands and thousands of recent followers might sink their tooth into. Sensual R&B choices, together with a collaboration with Lenny Kravitz. Melodic hip-hop collaborations with artists like Lil Child. With the 2020 launch of his third album, Whereas the World Was Burning (out now), SAINt JHN remains to be straddling the fence between the dirty and the beautiful, the unique and the remix. As an alternative of transferring in direction of that billion-stream bubbly dance sound Imanbek created, SAINt JHN’s leaving it as a doorway for brand new followers to step into his advanced world, provide his tackle our collective experiences this 12 months, by means of the sonic panorama followers have come to like from him.
As he talks about his new album, sporting a black tank prime and a cross chain, and sporting his signature black and blonde locs, one hanging inches longer than the remainder, he additionally talks concerning the success he feels is lengthy overdue. A profession that he constructed principally to outlive. And a inventive power that received’t be confined to music.
In his early years within the music trade, SAINt JHN tried to land a track on a Rihanna challenge twice with no luck, however succeeded in writing for Usher, Nico and Vinz, and Jidenna. He co-wrote and seems on the Black anthem “Brown Pores and skin Lady” alongside Beyonce, Wizkid and Blue Ivy for Lion King: The Present. Largely, although, he credit his songwriter work with serving to him to find his personal sound. When he wrote “Roses” in 2015 and had bother promoting others on the track, he determined he’d simply file it for himself. 2016’s Assortment One was stuffed with melodic tales of glamour and grit over synth-laden dance productions and woozy, borderline menacing lure beats. The challenge, like its creator, felt each accessible and unattainable. In the identical approach that, throughout our Zoom chat, SAINt JHN says he nonetheless does regular issues, like driving his Ferrari to get his personal groceries.