Ever since his single “Roses (Imanbek Remix)” blew up on Tik Tok, Brooklyn rapper SAINt JHN has been on many’s radar due to the unique set of skills he possesses. Preparing for his third album, the 34-year-old received cosigns from some of the game’s hottest names, which only upped its anticipation even more. After months of speculation, his new project, While The World Was Burning, is finally here. With features from Kanye West, JID, Lil Uzi Vert, and others, will SAINT JHN prove he’s hip hop’s next star?
Even with the premier list of rappers he has to compete with, Saint JHN remains the record’s center piece with his one of a kind versatility. He has incredible vocal range, which is at its peak on the pain filed “Sucks To Be You” and the energetically torn up “Switching Sides”. Complementing his god-given talent is SAINt JHN’s songwriting ability, which thrives by focusing on themes of self-worth and dignity. We see this at its pinnacle on “Freedom Is Priceless”, a triumphant anthem focusing on the strengths the New York-based artist has gained due to his fighting spirit. Even with some depth, a good chunk of the LP is made up of cuts like “Gorgeous” and Future’s “Roses Remix”, which are straightforward bangers at its core. When it comes to standout tracks, “Pray 4 Me” and “Quarantine Wifey” are the most memorable as SAINt JHN’s chemistry with both Kanye West and JID is seamless. For the rest of While The World Was Burning’s its remaining moments try to transcend the listener with intoxicating melodic ballads. In this regard, it’s somewhat of a mixed bag as JHN hits it off with guys like 6LACK and Kehlani on “Ransom” but fails to click with DaBaby and A Boogie wit da Hoodie on “Monica Lewinsky, Election Year”. In this element, SAINt performs better on his own, which is seen on the statement pieces “Back On The Ledge” and “Time For Demons”. Overall, SAINt JHN’s multifacetedness shows that this is just the beginning of what he can do as a bonified star.
On the side of production, the album is painfully mediocre. There are no moments that are unbearable to get through, but almost every song feels like it’s being carried by its like its vocal counterparts. Fortunately, SAINt JHN and everyone who accompanies him hold this potential disaster together. Instrumentals like “Ransom” and “Time For Demons” are so faint they feel like acapella’s at times. Even beats that do spice things up like “Freedom Is Priceless” and “Monica Lewinsky, Election Year” only standout due to their intuitive samples, which still lack depth and immersiveness. The sonic peak is certainly “Roses Remix”, as its fast-paced trap drums and subtle background details make it a full-fledged engaging experience. Unfortunately, there’s little to remember when it comes to the album’s soundscape, which seems to be a problem that’s only getting worse as time goes on in hip hop.
Despite falling flat in the sonic department, While The World Was Burning is a formidable statement record from SAINt JHN. Along with his star-studded features, the Brooklyn rapper is able to make a cohesive experience that solidifies his place in the genre for the foreseeable future. Going forward, I think SAINt JHN will become more prominent in the mainstream as these collaborations have certainly opened the door for new opportunities. For his next offering, I hope this gifted visionary can refine his sound and create his best work yet!
- SAINt JHN’s versatility and songwriting is above average
- Standout features from Kanye and JID
- Good blend of both trap and melodic bangers
- Stale production
- Collaborative chemistry is non-existent in certain places
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop