Yung Lean is the 19 year-old rapper from Stockholm, Sweden who took over the Internet in 2013 when his eye-catching video for single ‘Kyoto’ went viral. Early tracks like ‘Hurt’, ‘Yoshi City’ and ‘Ginseng Strip 2002’ turned hip hop fans and beyond onto something new. The unique style of Lean and his crew ‘Sad Boys’ and pals ‘Gravity Boys’- which consist of artists such as Yung Sherman, Yung Gud, Bladee and Ecco2k- opened up a new genre. Sometimes called ‘cloud rap’, sometimes ‘sad rap’, sometimes ‘slacker rap’. Yung Lean basically became to Sad Boys what Tyler, The Creator was to OFWGKTA.
Debut album ‘Unknown Memory’, released in late 2014, was a roaring success. It featured tracks such as ‘Sandman’ and ‘Ghosttown’ featuring American rapper Travis Scott.
Sophomore LP ‘Warlord’ hit the shelves today (25th February). And the first thing you notice is the cover art. Black and white, with a scratchy jotting of the album’s track list, it’s a step away from Lean’s trademark brightly-coloured visuals and vapourwave aesthetic. But you could argue he left vapourwave behind with Unknown Memory. It was a more evolved and carefully shaped set of songs than previous material such as 2013’s Unknown Death 2002 EP.
First track of the new album, ‘Immortal’ seems to set the tone for the record, with Lean announcing ‘I feel like a warlord’. Moving onto the next track, ‘Highway Patrol’, it becomes clear that he’s not ready to leave the droopy-lidded, drowsy tunes just yet. Highway Patrol sees the first contribution from frequent collaborator Gravity Boys’ Bladee. He also appears on closing track ‘Hocus Pocus’ as well collaborations from Ecco2k on ‘AF1s’ and Lil Flash on ‘Fantasy’: a punchy song which switches up the vibe of Warlord, replacing melancholia with aggression.
Afghanistan is a song which slots into a good spot on the Warlord track list. Offering humorous bars and epic lines like ‘I keep that kush up on me/ Kush from Afghanistan’.
Singles ‘Hoover’ and AF1s featuring Ecco2k. They were the two tracks released, complete with videos, by Lean before the album dropped. Distorted beats and vocals and bars like ‘Rockstar person, I’m like Marilyn Manson/ Dirt on my face, bitches think I’m handsome’ arguably make this the standout track of the album. AF1s however, is a tribute to the famous Nike trainers; ‘Six Air Force Ones/ I got Air Force on’. Jingling keys, trademark Yung Lean slacker rap style and lines like ‘Chain like a seahorse/ Is that really Leandoer?/ All white Dior, all I wear is Dior’ justify it’s single status.
Auto-tuned to the extreme, Bladee collaboration Hocus Pocus and harmonic ‘Shawty U Know What It Do’ are other highlights.
Warlord is a natural evolution for Yung Lean. He’s still only 19 years-old so the 4 years since he hit the scene in 2012 is a big part of his life. Life experiences have clearly influenced this LP; there’s more drug references and less video game and cartoon references for one. But altogether, a well-produced, smart album showing that Lean has grown into an intelligent artist.
Stream Warlord by Yung Lean on Spotify here: https://play.spotify.com/album/6MwwMyez7C8vfn8aTIvifQ
2. Highway Patrol ft. Bladee
3. Fantasy ft. Lil Flash
7. Stay Down
8. Eye Contact
9. More Stacks
10. AF1’s ft. ECCO2K
11. Hocus Pocus Ft. Bladee
12. Shawty U Know What It Do
13. Miami Ultras
Yung Lean tours Warlord and the rest of his already expansive repetoir across Europe and North America from a hometown show in Stockholm tomorrow night up until the start of June.
2/26 – Stockholm, SWE @ Sonár Festival
3/16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
3/17 – Washington, DC @ Fillmore Silver Spring
3/18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
3/19 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
3/21 – Boston, MA @ Royale
3/22 – Montreal, QC @ Telus Theater
3/23 – Toronto, ON @ Hoxton
3/25 – Detroit, MI @ Populux
3/26 – Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
3/27 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Café
3/30 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune
3/31 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
4/1 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
4/4 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
4/5 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium
4/6 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
4/7 – Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltren
4/21 – Brussels, BE @ VK Concerts
4/22 – Amsterdam, NE @ Melkweg
4/24 – Cologne, GER @ Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld
4/25 – Hamburg, GER @ Uebel & Gefährlich
4/26 – Prague, CZ @ Roxy
4/28 – Krakow, POL @ Forty Kleparz
4/29, Warszawa, POL @ 1500 m2
4/30 – Budapest, HU @ A38 Ship
5/2 – Berlin, GER @ YAAM
5/3 – Frankfurt, GER @ Zoom Frankfurt
5/4 – Paris, FR @ Le Trabendo
5/6 – London, UK @ Koko
5/7 – Manchester, UK @ Sound Control
6/3 – Copenhagen, DK @ Distortion Festival