WHY I RATE: Sainté

Selected by: James Keith

Name: Sainté

Where He’s From: Leicester

Genre: Alternative Rap

File Next To: Lord Apex, Finn Foxell, A2, KwolleM

When He Started: 2019

Sounds Like: “My sound is hard to describe; you can’t really put me in a box, and I love that. I’d say I make feel-good music. You can kick back and vibe to my music, but at the same time you can relate whilst turning up to my sounds.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “Very difficult question to answer but I would probably say ‘Public Service Announcement’ by Jay-Z or ‘Started From The Bottom’ by Drake. I can’t remember. I just remember playing NBA 2K13 all the time and rapping them tracks word for word.”

This past couple of years has seen the arrival of a growing wave of rappers who don’t quite fit into any of the traditional lanes. Even the term ‘alternative rap’ isn’t quite cutting it anymore and can be ascribed to any number of left-fielders; everyone from Lord Apex to Jordy to Knucks to Leicester prospect Sainté. Long gone are the days when an artist would have grown up listening solely to one genre or subgenre. Instead, Sainté says, he grew up listening to the “jazz, soul, R&B, hip-hop and gospel” that played in his parents’ house and the music that soundtracked the NBA 2K13 game. There was no strict canon he set out for himself—if it sounded good, he was in.

With its swirl of different cultures intermingling, Leicester is far from cut off—Kamakaze and Trillary Banks are proof of that—but it is once removed from London, adding to the outsider status some of its musicians can occasionally feel. But that can be a strength, making it harder for their voices to get lost in the noise, and in the case of Sainté, it’s proving to be a point of regional pride. “I really want to be able to put on for Leicester and make a way for my hometown,” he says. “Seeing all the other creatives just like me get their flowers, that would be a special moment.”

What that meant was he’s never felt any need to fit into a scene or be a particular type of artist. And while that has removed any creative template for him to refer to, it’s also afforded him a bit of freedom, and he’s learned quickly. His first official single, “Envy Me”, dropped in 2019 (although there may be more out there—“I actually removed my first track off the internet but who knows, someone may find it one day. You know how it goes!”) and in the time since, he’s dropped a steady stream of singles, resisting the urge to do too much too quickly, but still finding time to drop the well-received Local MVP EP in January and then the Summer Is Blue EP in October.

The latter EP continued Sainté’s upward trajectory and for the first time even included some collaborations. Miraa May, A2, Knucks, Chi Virgo, Odeal and Tay Iwar each stepped in to help create a seven-track collection that felt bigger and bolder than anything he’d done before. And although he sets himself apart from any particular scene over here and has audible ties to the US, don’t expect him to abandon his roots and go all Hollywood just yet. At his heart, he’ll always be a Leicester lad.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on November 19, 2021