Long before SAINt JHN’s “Roses” was blaring out of speakers across the world, he was bouncing back and forth between his hometown Brooklyn and Guyana, a small country off the North Atlantic coast of South America. From birth until his second year of high school, he’d rotate between the two locations in three-year stints and draw inspiration from the disparate cultures around him, counting everyone from JAY-Z, Fabolous and Beanie Sigel to Beenie Man, Spragga Benz and Buju Banton as early musical influences.
But the person who made him believe a career in music was possible was his biggest hero: his older brother. At age 11, while walking home on Furman Avenue in Bushwick, SAINt JHN remembers seeing him surrounded by a crowd and leading a rap cypher. “He felt like a puppet master — whatever he did, he controlled the audience,” SAINt JHN recalls. “The crowd would go, ‘Oooh. Owww. Ping! Zap!’ It was like a f--king Batman comic book, and he was writing it.”