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WaterWave Radar: Phillip Saint John

Local rapper/singer “Phillip Saint John” of Hastings, Minnesota has been recording music seriously for 6 years, after setting up his first show at 7th Street Entry at First Ave in 2015.

Through 2 EPs, Saint John has developed a sound focused heavily on radical honesty, as he funnels his expression through Hip-Hop and multi-genre experimentation with pointed reflection of his mixed raced identity as a Native BIPOC.

This level of raw authenticity shines through with his careful lyricism, a sadly rare quality in today’s mainstream rap.

After exploring his discography, I simply felt joyous; Plainly put, it's feel-good music. With the direction his style is taking, Saint John seems bent on providing local listeners with true hope for the future of Minneapolis Hip-Hop.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with him to learn more about how a talented creator like himself came to be in the 612...

What role did music play in your early years? Was there a defining moment when you knew music is what you wanted to pursue?

Music surrounded me for as long as I can remember with my family in the car, in church, in school, on the tv and in video games. It's definitely been a strong aspect in my upbringing. My dad used to bring me and my sister to the eagles club to sing karaoke with him and get 25 cent tacos. Growing up I joined choir in middle school after dropping out of band and started listening to albums more, just consuming a relentless amount of music at that time. I actually didn’t know that I wanted to pursue music even though it was such a core component of my life. I knew I could sing, but writing was boring for me. I started rapping for fun with a buddy in high school and we ended up making an album. After that, I realized that I wanted to pursue music as a solo career and did my own thing from there. I started taking it seriously and took it one day at a time, and now, here I am.

How would you describe your music?

I’d describe my music as an exploration of soundscapes and emotions. Normally, I’m an album person who likes things flowing or transitioning creatively and that’s always stuck with me throughout the years. I’ve dabbled in indie pop, adult contemporary, rock, soul, experimental, Neo-soul and of course had Hip Hop as the core element no matter how far it seems I stray from it.

When I listened to your music, I noticed a lot of different sounds: is there a music style/genre you don’t particularly like?

To be honest I am not enjoying rap right now and the direction it's taking. It doesn’t feel as grand as it used to feel for me. Ten years ago, I would have had a much different experience, but I would say I’m not the biggest fan of 80’s music. Something about it makes me glad I wasn’t born in that decade. I can listen to anything though but that’s because I’ve given everything a fair shot and have listened to pioneers of multiple genres.

Do you play any instruments?

I dabble with instruments in the studio but no I really tried to learn piano and guitar but my memory and hand dexterity is too slow to keep up with improving unfortunately

What is your main inspiration?

As far as people go, for inspiration I tend to just look for new people every once in a while that are fresh and exciting like Remi Wolf. She is such a wild ride.

As far as what inspires me, I just listen to beats until I feel something or go to the studio with Jason and throw some paint hoping something sticks. It’s more of a doing than ‘waiting for inspiration to strike’ type of process for me.

Is there a local musician that has brought you inspiration?

Mama Rose is always an inspiration locally because she’s my family and always shows us new stuff she’s working on. She keeps it refreshing and wants to create for creations sake and truth speaking like me.

Instagram : @dearmamarose

Which 3 skills do you feel are most useful to have in the music industry?

I’d say being able to rally people behind you is the most important skill there is today. Everyone has seen it or heard it all before, so to actually command people to listen to you and come to your shows is a valuable skill. Another skill would be having the courage to fail. No risk is no reward, though I’ve seen some safe people succeed by following the same formulas, but that’s just a personal one for me. The last skill is if you can save money in any way by DIY methods or better yet get paid for a skill like mixing and videography and still work on your music, it’ll do wonders for you. But you need to remember to keep a balance because not everyone will like your style or presentation of your "do it yourself" methods; so depending on how big you go with a song or video, it can be better to just pay some money to look more professional.

In 3 words , what would you say makes you stand out among other artists ?

Vibration Shifting Unicorn.

What are your plans for the future? Any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?

I’m working on my debut album but I think I’ll release tracks as singles for the most part to see how they get received and to pass time since everything is getting sketchy again with Covid. What I’d like to do is make my first vinyl and get even more experimental with it. I’ve already got some in progress tracks that are 3-4 parts. I’m trying to think as big as Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen or other experimental bands from 2005-2010 but with rap placed intentionally in it. You’re definitely gonna want to tune in for that one.

How did you first hear about Water Wave TV?

So I actually live one block from the store! I heard about it just by reaching out to people this year. I’m really excited to see more from you guys!

Most importantly, is there a message you are trying to get out there through your music?

A lot of my music is just me sorting through my childhood wounds, hopes, fears, and all of the things that made my world good then transitioning that into melody and rhymes. I do try to have a message no matter what I put out because my conviction is undeniable to most people. With that, I really just want to have fun and be myself in a way. I’ve found a great medium in which I can reflect parts of me out into the world, so I want to keep reflecting that light, love, hope, truth, radical honesty, and emotional vulnerability as that’s what I was raised on in life and that’s the type of music that shaped me.

Track Spotlight

A track that stood out to me was “Breathe”, a lively single wielding a catchy chorus, smooth bars, and an impeccable flow. It’s the type of track that, if you’re new to Saint John, makes you want to dive deep into his discography.

Needless to say, the future is as promising as it is intriguing, as we here at WaterWave take pride in showcasing artists like Saint John who bring such distinctly raw passion to their craft.

Go check out his music video on YouTube below which is also available on all streaming platforms!

For more coverage on local artists, be sure to follow WaterWaveTV on Instagram and YouTube for daily content covering all of your Minnesota Hip-Hop needs.

Youtube: Water Wave TV

-Zach Smith

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