INTERVIEW | UK HIP-HOP ARTIST SAINT DISCUSSES HIS NEW TRACK ‘FEED THE STREETS’

In the wake of the release of “Feed The Streets,” SAINT invites us into his world in this exclus­ive inter­view. Ori­gin­at­ing from a place of frus­tra­tion with main­stream music’s con­straints, the track embod­ies his ded­ic­a­tion to authen­t­ic hip-hop. Influ­enced by legends like Tupac and Nas, SAINT’s lyr­i­cism reflects a blend of intro­spec­tion and bravado. Through his cre­at­ive pro­cess, he crafts a nar­rat­ive that pays homage to hip-hop’s roots while carving his unique path. As he looks to the future, SAINT remains com­mit­ted to authen­ti­city and storytelling, prom­ising excit­ing pro­jects ahead.

Listen to ‘Feed The Streets’ Here 

Con­grat­u­la­tions on the release of ‘Feed The Streets’! Can you share with us the inspir­a­tion behind the track and what it rep­res­ents for you as an artist?

Firstly I’d like to thank I am hip hop for tak­ing the time to check my track out. This track was actu­ally born out of frus­tra­tion. I’d just fin­ished my most recent 6 track EP where the major­ity of songs were tailored for a wider audi­ence in terms of typ­ic­al song struc­ture.
I got to a place of exhaus­tion with the math­em­at­ics of cre­at­ing com­mer­cial­ized music, I just wanted to rap over a great beat. grow­ing up I’d con­sumed a lot of cyphers, I really enjoyed dig­ging for new artists. I wanted to con­trib­ute and give back to that raw style of just rap­ping without para­met­ers, That’s how the idea came about.
The concept behind “Feed The Streets” was born from nos­tal­gia — When we shot the video I wanted to cap­ture that experience/feeling I had as a kid when a lyr­i­cist would come on and dis­play their lyr­ic­al prowess and skill. Only dif­fer­ence was this time I wanted to be the one cre­at­ing it, I think I did that.

You’ve men­tioned being influ­enced by legendary artists like Tupac, Lil Wayne, and Nas. How have these influ­ences shaped your own style and approach to hip-hop?

Tupac is like a deity in the hip hop com­munity what he con­trib­uted to the cul­ture and com­munity on whole was inspir­ing. I was very drawn to his way of think­ing. I really grav­it­ated towards his mes­sage and ideo­logy. The import­ance of edu­ca­tion and self-improve­ment stuck with me. I envied not only his abil­ity to empath­ize with oth­ers but how he imple­men­ted that empathy into his music. I think this shaped and influ­enced my style a lot. I feel I adop­ted a sim­il­ar mind­set which I try to apply in my music. He was as real as they come, not afraid to speak about the beauty or ugly side of human­ity. I always try to keep my mes­sage genu­ine without com­prom­ising my integ­rity.

He furthered my obses­sion with words, I craved the abil­ity to not only be heard but to be under­stood. I sus­pect this is what also made me a fan of Nas and Lil Wayne. Nas is extremely artic­u­late, his abil­ity to craft a story with­in his raps and paint an image in your head with his descrip­tions always amazed me. How Wayne util­izes his per­spect­ive and vocab­u­lary is unpre­ced­en­ted, he has a gift for pulling meta­phors and entendres out of thin air, while very dif­fer­ent artists they both shared a love of storytelling.
I attempt to apply these tech­niques in my own music because I want to reach that caliber as an artist and rap­per. I think I put that on dis­play with this song with lines such as “cor­por­ate lends a hand but once ahold they won’t let go, I guess them man mis­un­der­stood when I said leave my boys alone”. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach that level but I won’t stop try­ing.

Your jour­ney in music has been marked by ded­ic­a­tion and per­sever­ance. Can you tell us about some of the chal­lenges you faced early on and how you over­came them?

I’ve had to devel­op ways of paci­fy­ing my insec­ur­it­ies. I’d send the early ver­sions of the song to friends like ‘Is this good?’ Or ‘Have you got any cri­ti­cism’ more often than not I was fish­ing for neg­at­ive feed­back to con­firm my worst fears. How­ever, when I was met with the oppos­ite, I got a lot of sup­port. Learn­ing to trust my instincts was a huge obstacle I had to over­come.

When it comes to my music I can be overly crit­ic­al to the point it becomes a det­ri­ment but I found the more I stopped think­ing and just ran with what I was feel­ing the easi­er it became, this was true for pro­du­cing as well. Mak­ing the beat I went through sev­er­al iter­a­tions of the drums and melod­ies chas­ing some­thing that I couldn’t see.

Being a white guy from the UK with a US influ­ence try­ing to make a name in Hip Hop comes with a lot of pres­sure but is extremely reward­ing. I want to do it justice without appro­pri­at­ing the genre. Hip Hop saved me from some very dark times that I wasn’t sure I’d make it out from, I guess in a way I feel indebted to it. Hip Hop is so much more than a type of music or com­mod­ity it’s a com­munity, It’s like one big fam­ily. If that com­munity wel­comes you in then it’s your respons­ib­il­ity to pro­tect and give back to that com­munity, there needs to be a bal­ance.

From your debut EP, ‘Laws Of The Jungle,’ to your latest single, ‘Feed The Streets,’ how do you feel your music has evolved and what themes do you find your­self explor­ing?

I feel I have def­in­itely evolved, I think as both an artist and pro­du­cer. I’ve got­ten bet­ter at exper­i­ment­ing with more con­cepts while reg­u­larly put­ting my pen to the test while push­ing myself out of my com­fort zone when cre­at­ing the instru­ment­al. I also believe I’ve made huge strides in the engin­eer­ing depart­ment with this being the clean­est mix I’ve had so far — all of this came from prac­tice and dis­cip­line. I didn’t just write and per­form the song I also pro­duced the beat, there were count­less late nights ses­sions that involved a lot of tri­al and error.
The theme of this single is very dif­fer­ent from Laws Of The Jungle. The EP was very humble in its approach where­as Feed The Streets has much more of a brag­gado­cious vibe to it, where I cham­pi­on inde­pend­ence, hard work and give myself praise. I think if you were to play any song off the EP next to Feed The Streets you would imme­di­ately hear the improve­ment, no doubt.

The UK rap scene is incred­ibly vibrant and com­pet­it­ive. How do you see your­self fit­ting into this land­scape, and what do you hope to con­trib­ute?

The UK rap scene has been killing it for a while now, Cent­ral Cee’s rise NEEDS! to be stud­ied. I’m also enjoy­ing Meekz elev­a­tion at the moment but yes it’s extremely com­pet­it­ive, I think Drake and Kendrick have shown that with their feud this week.
I’m a big believ­er in there being enough to go around, I think in some cases there’s a fam­ine men­tal­ity which makes me nervous. I fear that this lim­its new artists or sounds devel­op­ing which is nev­er a good thing espe­cially in Hip Hop. At its core Hip Hop mir­rors a sport — I’ve nev­er been a huge fan of phys­ic­al sports so this is like my NBA or Cham­pi­ons League. Just like the play­ers in those sports every­one com­petes to be the greatest, which I appre­ci­ate. I’d be lying if I said I don’t share that same sen­ti­ment.
I think com­pet­i­tion is healthy and a really good way to keep the qual­ity and bar high. I think that’s some­thing I could con­trib­ute, I want to make good music that res­on­ates with every­one. I like the idea of people com­ing togeth­er over a com­mon struggle. Music is a ves­sel that I per­son­ally feel can facil­it­ate that. In terms of phys­ic­al con­tri­bu­tion I really want to give the genre a few clas­sic albums/songs that merge both my influ­ences from the UK and US. I’d like to try and bring some­thing new to the scene. I believe I’ll fit in well as I love and respect this genre, I’m extremely com­pet­it­ive and I don’t like to lose but equally love to see oth­ers win.

Could you walk us through your cre­at­ive pro­cess when craft­ing ‘Feed The Streets’? How did you approach the pro­duc­tion and lyr­ic­al con­tent?

When I approached the pro­duc­tion on this track I really wanted to take a more organ­ic approach as a lot of music today util­izes synths or pads (not to say either can’t be organ­ic) which is why I went with strings, piano and vocal riff. They’re clas­sic instru­ments that encap­su­late a lot of emo­tion, the vocal riff just human­ized it. I still wanted a lot of energy in the track which is why I decided on the Trap Drums as the tempo of the hats enabled me to bring that energy while the weight of the kick provided the back­bone of the rhythm. I used a Rim shot at the begin­ning and Snare through­out to add some vari­ation.
In terms of writ­ing the song my object­ive from the jump was to tap into my con­fid­ence. I thought the best way to do that was to give myself the flowers that I felt I deserved, like a meta­phor­ic­al pat on the back. It was really import­ant to me that this song was some­thing I could ima­gine seeing/hearing in a record store next to a J Cole or Dave song and felt like it belonged.

Your authen­ti­city as an artist shines through in your music. How do you ensure that your lyr­ics and deliv­ery remain genu­ine and true to your­self?

Wow, that’s a really good ques­tion… I think I’m unapo­lo­get­ic­ally me, I under­stand that I’m not per­fect while being self aware enough to recog­nise my flaws. I like to think I’m pretty fear­less in my pro­cess. Addi­tion­ally I truly believe that people are drawn to authen­ti­city that’s why I try to keep it real, right? I’d rather nobody took notice of my music and know who I am than lie with mil­lions of fol­low­ers. life imit­ates art, which is why my art has to be sin­cere. This is why Feed The Streets is so import­ant to me because at the root of it — it’s me doing what I love, mak­ing the music I love. No agenda. Don’t get me wrong, if you like it then I love it but endorse­ments, deals or any of the oth­er accol­ade that come with this industry (while nice to dream about) was nev­er my motiv­a­tion.

What do you hope listen­ers take away from ‘Feed The Streets’ and your music in gen­er­al? Is there a par­tic­u­lar mes­sage or feel­ing you aim to con­vey?

My hope is they hear someone who is genu­inely pas­sion­ate about his craft. I want them to walk away feel­ing sat­is­fied and impressed with not only this single but my body of work. I like to think that my music is some­thing they can relate to, giv­ing who­ever needs to hear it that same escape I had.

My mes­sage is a simple one, don’t give up, there’s a lot of power in self-belief. The power of optim­ism is lim­it­less. Yes life is hard, you’re going to struggle no mat­ter where you’re from every­body has prob­lems they just dif­fer I want my music to be a remind­er that there is a light at the end of the tun­nel you just have to keep your foot on the gas.

As you con­tin­ue to grow as an artist, what are some goals or mile­stones you hope to achieve in your music­al career?

A huge goal of mine is to craft a clas­sic album or to head­line a big fest­iv­al how­ever I feel that’s every artist’s goal so I’ll be a bit more per­son­al. I’d love the oppor­tun­ity to work with some of the idols that we talked about above, I’ve not had the chance to tour yet but that’s the next object­ive to mas­ter on my list.
Oth­er than music I’d really like to do some­thing that help’s people, my friends/family reg­u­larly joke that id be the worst rich per­son because I’d just give all my money away. At some point I want to start my own char­ity or at the very least get involved with one I’m pas­sion­ate about, I haven’t fleshed those plans out yet but it’s very much on my mind.

Look­ing ahead, can you give us a sneak peek into any future pro­jects or col­lab­or­a­tions you’re work­ing on? What can fans expect from SAINT in the com­ing months?

As of right now I’m really excited to announce that I’m work­ing on anoth­er EP, this one I’m really pas­sion­ate about as the idea is really strong. It’ll be the first EP released under my own record label ‘Reformed Records’. In terms of more recent updates I’ve got anoth­er single ready to go that’s very dif­fer­ent from Feed The Streets called ‘Grow’. I’m in the pre-pro­duc­tion stage of the video with a com­pany called ‘Drop The Mic Pro­duc­tions’. The same cine­ma­to­graph­er who worked on Feed The Streets (Samuel Oxton) will be work­ing on this one as well. I’m very excited as this will be more cine­mat­ic than any­thing we’ve done before.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.