Saint Soldier’s newest release, Duality, sees Abbotsford native Amrit Singh’s introspective brand of rap take a logical step forward.
The rapper’s main narrative aesthetic, which champions introspection and level-headedness, is a fresh breath in a genre that (in the mainstream) so often focuses on glamorizing more destructive aspects of many communities. On top of that, Singh’s own Sikh faith permeates the record’s content in subtle but ever-present shades.
This is the line that Saint Soldier must toe: one of self-expression that is tinged with his own beliefs and experiences. (And what more could we ask of an artist than honesty?)
“Fly Away,” the third track on Duality, is more of a ballad, which highlights Singh’s confident but relaxed delivery. And although the instrumental is slightly at odds with the rest of the instrumentals on the record (it’s more grounded in acoustic guitar, as opposed to the more atmospheric beats on other tracks), Singh’s delivery and sung chorus tie the track together neatly enough to make it a stand-out on the record.
One of the record’s highs comes four tracks in at “Mind Over Matter.” And although here he puts himself in danger of preaching (a note which is shared with “Emcee,” a later track which crosses into territory that some might interpret as self-congratulatory), Saint Soldier’s overall delivery and lyricism makes up for what few flaws the track might have. A track which would go toe-to-toe with much of today’s mainstream rap, “Mind Over Matter” is further bolstered by a guest verse courtesy of Toronto’s Humble the Poet, who fits in perfectly with Singh’s aesthetic and narrative content.
Speaking of stand-outs, the record’s lead single, “A Stray,” released in 2016 is one of the most refined tracks on Duality. There are two reasons for the track’s success. The first reason is Singh’s delivery on the track; he’s not rushing to get verses out one behind the other in such a way that he trips himself up. Rather, his performance reflects a passion which comes across in the bluntness of his language, and in the energy with which he delivers it. But most importantly, “A Stray” is successful because we, the listener, are able to take in Singh’s narrative without being plagued by cynicism. Singh manages to balance between weighing on a topic about which he’s passionate, and grandstanding. And what’s more impressive is that he manages to avoid the latter by focusing on how the situation affects him, and what advice he does give, he gives from a place of humility, which is only consistent with his own beliefs as stated throughout the record.
Together with “Wise Ones,” which is one of the most technically impressive tracks on the record, and “Repetition Pays,” which is noteworthy due to the way Singh deals with an instrumental that’s comparatively out of left-field, “Namaste” sees Singh embrace his performance with a more easy-going attitude that highlights his narrative and lyrical foothold on his brand.
Duality is abundantly indicative of personal growth, but it’s just as indicative of Saint Soldier’s growth as a storyteller and a performer, which, if his attitude reflects a trend, won’t stop anytime soon.