Santino Le Saint’s 10-track debut mixtape is bookended by self-deprecating messages in opening track “Unholy” and closing track “Bitter,” and the eight songs in between solidify the project as a melancholy confessional.
The Brixton-based R&B artist gave listeners an inside track as to what he was thinking when penning Rage of Angels with a detailed official statement:
“This project is for late-night lovers of all shapes and colours. Emo guitarists and R&B clubbers. Heartbroken rappers and Ice Road Truckers. If you’ve been lost in love or yet to discover, you’ll know where I’m coming from. Rage of Angels is my debut mixtape and was inspired by my love for classic films with dark romantic twists. I wrote and produced the majority of the project and sonically fused my musical upbringing of rock and metal bands with my love of hip-hop icons. This is a guitar centric project with hip-hop energy.
The tape feels like two star-crossed lovers—one from a world of trap and hip-hop and one from a world of rock and metal—had a child who was born singing songs of love, pain and passion. That’s me.”
It might come across as lazy to include Santino’s full statement rather than fully review the project, but his self-assessment is so spot-on that anything written by a third party would pale in comparison. Beyond that, the music speaks for itself.
“Love Lies” is driven by an electric guitar, serving as the backdrop for Santino’s soft voice (“I’ve got a thing for the angel in my dreams / And she’s just like me / She’s one of the fallen,” he sings in the first verse, nodding directly toward the mixtape’s title.)
“Say Less” finds Santino admitting to a lover that he’s “dead inside.” That is immediately followed by his slowly paced, more hip-hop leaning “Bullet With My Name On It,” inspired by Netflix series Peaky Blinders, in which he’s at the mercy of a love interest—the same one or a different one from “Say Less,” who knows.
“Loaded” addresses bullets in a more literal sense (“Loaded / Playin’ with a bullet / I might load it / Russian Roulette to make you notice”), as Santino publicly navigates his dilapidated mental health.
If Santino reminds you of Post Malone, perhaps the industry’s current face for successfully crossing rock with R&B with often vulnerably sad undertones, that’s not coincidental. “Call You When I Get Home” was co-produced by Sidney Swift, who counts Posty as a past collaborator. However, already converted fans will look at 2018 single “Maria Don’t Call Me” as the crux of Santino’s young discography.
At just 21 years old, Santino can only rise from here. The son Charlie Parker, a well-respected hip-hop producer also known as 57th Dynasty, is beginning to build his own legacy—having also founded multi-disciplinary arts collective Cloud X last year. Rage of Angels is the foundation.
Upcoming live dates
May 15: The Great Escape Festival @ Brighton
May 17: London @ Heaven, Saweetie’s supporting act