by Sade Hawthorne
Saint Jhn, a multifaceted rapper, singer, producer, and songwriter, is taking his talents to Washington, D.C. Being the fifth city on his North American tour, fans can expect quite a show. On August 23rd, the charismatic artist released his sophomore project, Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs. The Brooklyn rapper recounts his experience with modern romance and all of its weird convolutions throughout the album.
Calling his albums “collections,” Carlos St. John interpolates his love for designing and fashion into his musical projects. Just as a fashion designer releases seasonal collections, Saint Jhn felt that this project was a summer collection he wanted to introduce to the public. Featuring big names such as Meek Mill, Lil Baby, and the legendary Lenny Kravitz, this album shows the growth of Saint Jhn and also a softer side. It is a stark contrast to “McDonalds Rich,” the first song I discovered from the artist a year ago.
With this new project, Saint Jhn ventures between a variety of genres, sometimes blending numerous elements into one song. Guitar riffs and trap beats can be heard throughout the album, leaving you attentive and wanting for more. Beginning with “Wedding Day,” a brooding beat is introduced while the rapper discusses a relationship and how he’s dealing with his fame and fortune. The intro: “Girl we can’t ever get divorced if I marry you/You tryna find all the emotions, I bury it/You tryna see who I am tonight, but I vary” sets the tone of what is soon to be shown as a struggle between love and lust. “This is not for play now, things that I pray about/Paid my mama house off, win a VMA now,” comes as just one of the many examples of Saint Jhn speaking openly about what he has accomplished and what he continues to work towards.
“Anything Can Happen” follows with a feature from Philadelphia rapper, Meek Mill. Both artists take turns boasting about their success but also reflecting on how they can never be too safe. When explaining the meaning of “Trap” to Genius, particularly the line, “Really came up from the mat, no turnin’ back,” Saint Jhn elaborates on how his upbringing led to his present triumph. “Really came up from the map. No turning back. Like it’s the same thing, from the mat from the map, I’m saying from the bottom. From the earth, I came up from it. I grew up in Brooklyn, East New York, and I bounced between Brooklyn and Georgetown Guyana, which is in South America. So I’m Guyanese.” What comes after are fascinating stories about falling for a stripper for the night, an anthem for the ladies, and the quintessential trap bangers you can expect from an entertainer like Saint Jhn.
Midway through the album, we get to “Borders,” featuring Lenny Kravitz. Saint Jhn has made it clear that the singer-songwriter has been an inspiration for him.
“〈Lenny Kravitz is〉 an inspiration, but not necessarily musically. I didn’t listen to growing up. He’s a black man in a world that doesn’t look our shade. And I liked the rebellious nature of it and the sex attribute…So when I started putting out records, to get people to understand what I was doing, I called myself “Ghetto Lenny.” It feels like I’m making rock n’ roll.” – Saint Jhn
When speaking with Billboard about his album, he went into further detail about his mindset on how he views music: “I say I design music. I can imagine it and sort of picture it. I think about all of the things I do in the world and say that I’m designing it because it takes the same skill set. It’s the same skill set to make clothes or make a car — not saying I’m going to do that.” One look at this artist and you know calling him fashionable would be an understatement. With his album, Saint Jhn also released a collection that he does not consider your typical merch: “I want to be in a store with the big boys. You’re about to see it. I’m not wrestling with anything, but my ideas are now coming to life. I didn’t necessarily want to put it in stores before… I’ll put in stores now because I want to place it where people can see.”
F a l l e n mostly produced the 14-song album. The match made in heaven duo is a prime example of what happens when the producer and artist mesh together flawlessly. F a l l e n was also seen as the primary producer of Saint Jhn’s first collection released back in 2018. “We make most of our music from scratch. Right? So most of it starts on chords, it just starts on drums. So it’s a rare occasion when we’ll have a beat just made, but it might’ve been. Because I trust him enough that he’s one of few people that can play me beats. I don’t let people play me beats. It’s not my thing.” – St. Jhn on Genius
Saint Jhn will be in D.C. on November 12th at the U Street Music Hall performing to a sold-out audience. I hope you got a ticket because it’ll be a show you don’t want to miss!
Sade Hawthorne is a freelance writer currently working for multiple publications with a particular love for Hip-Hop. Currently finishing up pharmacy school at Howard University, Sade plans to take her writing to the next level in the years to come.