Final November the cult Swedish rapper Yung Lean sat down in a grand ceremonial chair at Dublin’s Trinity School to be introduced with the Bram Stoker Medal of Cultural Achievement. Right here was Lean – an artist who shot to meme stardom in a bucket hat over half a decade again, with no person 100% positive whether or not to deal with him as honest or satire – following within the footsteps of well-known alumni Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, plus different notable latest visitors together with Angela Merkel, Helen Mirren and The Pixies.
Maybe the individual sending out the invites was an enormous stan of Sadboy crew, the group Lean shaped with fellow Swedes Yung Sherman and Yung Gud. Possibly JPEGMAFIA was already booked elsewhere. Both approach, it was a surreal scenario, one which Lean himself made mild of: “It’s an honour to be right here at Hogwarts.”
It might need felt like validation for each the rapper and his die-hard followers. For some, the Stockholm native – actual identify Jonatan Leandoer Håstad – will eternally be a residing meme, a dated Tumblr in-joke personified. However his horde of web fanatics will level to the truth that he’s an artist whose affect far outweighs his stardom. Having launched his debut mixtape ‘Unknown Demise 2002’ in 2013, he’s lengthy been a DIY outsider oddball with higher inventive imaginative and prescient than his awkward approach suggests, and whose bloated back-catalogue options hidden gems nicely price digging round for.
Lean could have collaborated with Travis Scott, Frank Ocean and Gucci Mane, however – as a baby-faced OG of drugged-out, nihilistic sad-rap that’s now in every single place, himself indebted to the zany effortlessness of Lil B and comatose hooks of Chief Keef – he’s by no means fairly reached the heights of the artists that he, considerably not directly, performed a component in paving the best way for: Publish Malone, Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Peep.
It’s really nothing like these two acts, however Lean stays as intoxicating and is steadily dazzling. The manufacturing, too, feels extra imposing than earlier than (maybe owing to Lean’s work with Jack Donoghue of American witch home trio SALEM), from the barbed, unwieldy breakdown of opener ‘My Agenda’ and irresistible earworm ‘Yayo’ to the hazy and hypnotic ‘Acid at 7/11’. The cascading blast of ‘Butterfly Paralyzed’ evokes pure late-night euphoria.
Elsewhere ‘Hellraiser’ showcases the effectiveness of Lean’s quietly alluring songwriting, whereas ‘Boylife In EU’, a nod to the Cody ChesnuTT track ‘Boylife in America’, shifts between delicate poignancy and deafening, distorted bass, hammering dwelling its emotional depth.
As ever with Yung Lean, although, there are caveats. There’s the filler that’s dogged virtually each one among his releases: the Ariel Pink-featuring title-track by no means fairly takes off and ‘Iceheart’ sounds an excessive amount of just like the landfill SoundCloud rap that Lean helped encourage, whereas ‘Outta My Head’ is a thread-bare concept of a track that ought to have remained on the slicing room ground.
Lyrically too, a few of his common appeal is lacking. There’s an absence of the playful quirks and one-liners that Lean that made so standard within the first place, and you end up wanting a smidge extra of the artist who, on 2013’s ‘Emails’, shouted out cocaine, Gucci and Pokémon whereas flexing about having 600 unread messages.
Yung Lean’s music has at all times been extra attention-grabbing than it’s good. ‘Starz’ options simply sufficient fascinating moments to forestall him – now an surprising seven years into his profession – from feeling played-out.
Launch date: Could 15
File label: 12 months0001