You know “Roses,” the song that catapulted Saint Jhn (who styles his name as SAINt JHN) into global renown, thanks to a pitched-up dance remix from Imanbek. But you might not know the voice behind that smash, likely because it’s not actually Saint Jhn’s normal voice.
To get to know the actual timbre of his vocals, try “Gorgeous,” a gigantic flex from his upcoming album, While the World Was Burning, due out November 20. Or listen to Saint Jhn, the MTV Push artist for November 2020, tell the story of his upbringing bouncing back and forth between Brooklyn and Guyana and how it left him with plenty of questions about his very self.
“My time spent between Brooklyn and Georgetown, Guyana only sounds sexy. It wasn’t super sexy when I was growing up,” he tells MTV before launching into a stream-of-consciousness encapsulation of why: “Because I had to figure out how to lose my accent, regain my accent, I’m Black, I’m not Spanish, my name is Carlos St. John, they’re confused, I’m not Haitian or African, they don’t know what Guyana is, South America, Spanish-speaking — it was the most confusing time in my life, but it was everything. It made the difference.”
From not having Jordans to being barefoot, buying his first CD — Lloyd Banks’s 2004 debut The Hunger for More — in Downtown Brooklyn and sharing his early childhood raps with friends, Saint Jhn’s origins are just as key to his rise as his work ethic. By 2016, he’d released his version of “Roses” (which he’d originally hoped could be “an idea for Beyoncé”) and opened for Post Malone on the West Coast; a few years later, his vocals on “Brown Skin Girl” mingled right alongside that of Beyoncé herself, as well as her daughter Blue Ivy, and “Roses” had seen its resurgence.
2019 also marked another big milestone for Saint Jhn — occasionally nicknamed “Ghetto Lenny” — when he teamed up with Lenny Kravitz on the extremely sensual cut “Borders.” “Imagine your hero taps you on the shoulder and passes you the baton to keep running,” he told MTV News then. “That’s what it felt like.”
Since then, he’s lined up plenty of special guests for While the World Was Burning, including Lil Uzi Vert, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, DaBaby, Kanye West, 6lack, Kehlani, and more. In addition to “Gorgeous,” ahead of the release, he’s shared the airy “Sucks to Be You,” a track he calls “an autobiographical story” about “how the fractured child became a whole person.”
“On this one, I’d like to introduce myself,” he said. “My name is Saint Jhn, and it was fucked up. It was rough. It was crazy. So let me tell you how I got here.”
Watch Saint Jhn introduce himself to you in both of the MTV Push interviews and performances above.