Though millions are struggling to keep a smile on during this COVID-19 pandemic, Brooklyn star, SAINt JHN is finding ways to rewrite the narrative. Not only is he keeping fans entertained with his jubilant energy and witty banter on Instagram with his IGNORANt Lifecoach Sessions, but he’s finally reaching the goal-line of music: becoming a top 40 artist.
On Tuesday, (April 7) Billboard spoke to JHN about the smoldering success of the Imanbek Remix of his four-year-old song “Roses” after it zoomed 16 spots this week to hit No. 39 on the Hot 100. “We’re No. 39 on the Hot 100. We’re top 40 for the first time. That’s big. That’s a new point in my career to be at,” he raved. The “Roses” resurgence comes after Russian DJ/producer Imanbek opted to flip the track last year and inject an electro-hop element, helping the song morph into an instant smash on social media.
“He really gave it a whole new life. He deserves a round of applause, for real,” says JHN of Imanbek. “It’s a hit record. I don’t know if it’s a gold or platinum record yet. I gotta go do the math but it’s definitely a hit record.”
Along with a top 40 record, JHN is relishing his new-found dominance on the Dance/Electronic Streaming Songs chart, where he maintains his crown at No. 1 for a second consecutive week. Even JHN himself — who pegs himself as a genreless artist — was initially surprised about his immediate impact on the dance charts. “I ain’t gon’ lie, I didn’t necessarily say I was gonna aim for that,” says JHN of his club success. “But my ambition and my intention is be No. 1… I want to be No. 1 in every space. So the fact this came first, it’s an incredible gift.”
Now, JHN is looking to apply more pressure on competitors with his latest appearance on Marshmello’s new anthem, “Been Through It Before.” Released last Friday (April 3), the starry lineup also includes the acclaimed producer Southside and JHN, along with U.K. star Giggs. From first glance, this strange batch of artists might appear jarring to most, but at the end of the day, “Been Through It All” is a swaggering track packed with tons of flavor for different sides of the globe.
“You know what’s funny? When you really understand we’re just musicians and we make records or songs that are just familiar to us or new, then it all starts to make sense,” says the rapper dubbed Ghetto Lenny. ”It’s a strange combination. It’s like all these superheroes. It’s Avengers. You don’t expect all them to be in the movie, but they’re in the same movie.”
JHN — who supplies both a verse and the song’s hook — looks to fulfill his promise and score himself a gold trophy next winter after declaring a Grammy win on the track. “When an underdog wins, they win for everybody, because somebody gotta come through that door and break it open and make it possible,” he says, adding: “I’m a Brooklyn kid. So for me, rap and all the other forms of music that I participate in, we catch a win? It’s a win for everybody.”
While JHN is currently winning on the music front, he’s also emerging as a fan favorite on Instagram, courtesy of his Ignorant Lifecoach Sessions. Since the start of quarantine, JHN has been giving sound advice to distraught lovers and hapless romantics. For him, it’s a carefree distraction until it’s time to bounce back to the outside world and enjoy his time at his safe haven: the strip club.
“I might have to have a talk with my accountant and say listen, ‘Let’s consolidate the expenses,'” JHN offers. “What I would have done were these strip clubs — but if we consolidate and bring the strippers here, we can maximize our time, minimize our costs and exaggerate our expressions.”
Watch Saint JHN’s full interview above, where he also discusses what he’s learned from working with Lenny Kravtiz and Beyoncé, to which Jay-Z album epitomizes this chapter of his life right now.