Cruel Santino expands the Subaru universe with new EP, ‘Cincinnati Pumpin!!’

a 4-track offering that encapsulates his versatility

Cruel Santino is constantly evolving. Since his debut, the singer has been peeling back new layers to his artistry with an even more diverse sonic palette built on genre-blending fusions, cinematic productions and accentuated with a rich array of melodies. As one of the frontrunners of the non-conformist alte subculture, the masterful genre bender has widened the potency of his arsenal while retaining the hallmarks of an experimental artist. 

On his recent album ‘Subaru Boys: FINAL HEAVEN,’ Cruel Santino’s evolution was brought into full view: with omnivorous music that escapes labels and actively contests them. The 21-tracker reaffirmed Cruel Santino’s master shape shifting and his ability as a pop culture collagist, to blend and meld genres to his will while offering one of the most daring projects released in the past few years. Since then, Santi has consistently expanded the Subaru universe with followup releases including his 2-pack release, ‘Holiday Sniping’ and now ‘Cincinnati Pumpin!!’ 


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For his latest 4-track effort, we’re in full Subaru territory. The EP opens with the Len-assisted “4ever,” produced by Monster Boys. Before Santi’s instantly recognisable vocals arrive, the pair lay the groundwork with a daunting atmosphere layered with dull chords and soft croons. When the groovy bass drops, cue in a melancholic Santi who addresses his love interest in charming words. Shortly after, Len takes over to reiterate the message of the  love-themed track, riding the wave of the beat with mellow bars and heartwarming promises. The track doesn’t fail to remind us that we’re tuned in to Subaru radio before it draws to a close and smoothly transitions to an equally mellow atmosphere for “Cincinatti Pumpin!!.”

Arguably the most intriguing track on the EP, “Cincinatti Pumpin!!,” offers up the charismatic production of Tochi Bedford who continues to deliver trunk-rattling sonic homages and cascading flows. Here, the pair are a match in heaven as the track’s smooth, groovy soundscape of light drum patterns as Cruel Santino lightly sings of his experience serenading his love interest, “She was frontin’ as I tried to talk to her.” He emphasises his persistence despite her noncommittal attitude, laying a stellar verse before the track’s percussive elements switch tempo. 

On “Panic Island,” Cruel Santino joins forces with Odunsi (The Engine), a kinetic pairing that has served up memorable tracks such as “alte cruise,” “Nostalgia” and more. For “Panic Island,” both artists are utterly relaxed as they wax poetic over an airy mid-tempo beat that vibrates with emotion and angst about a current lover. “I want to taste you before he gets in the way,” expressing the lengths he would go to for her attention. As willing as he is to go the extra mile, he questions “Are you worth this love?” but sharply concludes “I’m feeling good.” Odunsi steps in midway across the track similarly questioning his love interest in a series of silvery melodies as he croons, “When will I have you to myself?”

The EP closes off with the bouncy number, “FTR” which wraps up the project on high notes with a smashing upbeat delivery alongside street-pop artist, S-Smart. The pair glide over the track’s dance-leaning instrumentals as they proclaim their love for the trenches. “In the trenches, they love me,” Cruel Santino chants over the smattering bounce and drums, boldly showcasing an impressive versatility as he delves outside his typical beat. Closing under 10 minutes, ‘Cincinnati Pumpin!!,’ is a reminder that Cruel Santino is constantly carving out his own space 

Listen to Cincinnati Pumpin!!’ below

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