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Album review: “While The World Was Burning” by SAINt JHN

Rapper SAINt JHN released “While The World Was Burning” on Nov. 20. (Pitchfork)

Rapper SAINt JHN released his third studio album, “While The World Was Burning,” on Nov. 20.

SAINt JHN is best known for his hit single, “Roses,” which went viral online. The original version of the song has 76 million streams on Spotify, while a remix is sitting above a billion. 

Though the original version of “Roses” is an amazing song, what really put SAINt JHN on my radar was the single “Trap,” which dropped in early 2019.

My first impression of the album is simple: wow. It is really giving rapper $NOT’s album, “Beautiful Havoc,” a run for its money, which is my nomination for rap album of the year.

The album consists of 13 songs for just over 40 minutes. The album features a lot of big-name artists, including Lil Uzi Vert, DaBaby, Kanye West and Future.

Depending on the success of this release, this may be the album which pushes SAINt JHN to the top of the music world.

The first song, “Sucks To Be You,” is incredible. It shocked me when it first started playing. SAINt JHN has a more melodic flow on a lot of his songs and relies heavily on his beats. The beat here is amazing. The hi-hats mixed with the bass-clap combo and the melody sounds great. 

The next two songs that follow, “Switching Sides” and “Freedom Is Priceless,” are amazing. The chorus to “Switching Sides” is really catchy. “Freedom Is Priceless” has a single-note melody that repeats throughout the whole song and keeps a high-energy tempo. The bass hits hard, but still has an air of restraint. The whole song is brilliant.

The three-song streak ends when “Gorgeous” plays. SAINt JHN seems to rap off-beat, and the beat itself seems off. It sounds like something you’d make in GarageBand.

The next song, featuring Lil Uzi Vert, isn’t the best either. The hi-hat pattern follows from the previous song, which throws the song off for me. The overall production for these two songs is not great. However, Lil Uzi Vert’s verse is pretty good, and that is somewhat of a saving grace.

“Monica Lewinsky, Election Year,” featuring DaBaby and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, ends the rough streak. The production on this track follows the same pattern as the first three songs: a nice chorus, hard and sparse bass and an upbeat tempo. DaBaby’s verse is solid, while Boogie’s isn’t. I’m not a Boogie fan to begin with though, so I have a bit of a bias.

Next up is “Roses Remix (feat. Future),” which isn’t as good as the original. Don’t waste your time.

There is not a bad song on the second half of the album; it is fantastic. Kanye West, JID, 6LACK, and Kehlani all have features in the remainder of the project. West’s flow is really good on his feature, but the star of the second-half of the album is JID. 

“Quarantine Wifey” is definitely the second-half highlight. The muffled bass and clap works really well together for the beat, and JID’s fast tempo pairs really well with JHN’s melodic flow. 

I’m going to call it right now: this will be the album that puts SAINt JHN up there with other major rappers. Other than the two “Roses” remixes, there are only two songs I don’t like here. Everything else is great. I wouldn’t say it has overthrown “Beautiful Havoc” for album of the year, but it is definitely in my top three. 

I’m excited to see what comes of SAINt JHN after this. Hopefully this album puts him on the map.

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