Words About Music
Yung Lean “Unknown Death 2002”
So, I’m probably gonna catch some flak for this one. But here we go anyway.
So… Yung Lean. How do I… describe this…?
Okay. Yung Lean is a 16-year old rapper/singer from Stockholm, Sweden, and his approach to hip-hop is not unlike that of Lil B, RiFF RAFF, Kreayshawn, and Kitty Pryde. If you don’t know any of these people, they are all young American rappers who made their name exclusively through the use of social networks such as MySpace, Tumblr, Twitter, Datpiff, Facebook, and YouTube. They all have extremely strange personas and make some of the most original music ever created. They’re also known for having the same amount of fans as they do haters. These four and many more are a part of the burgeoning internet hip hop scene, and this scene has just recently produced one of the strangest and most polarizing artists I’ve ever listened to: Yung Lean.
To understand Yung Lean is to understand his appeal and aesthetic. Watch any of his music videos and listen to his lyrics and you’ll see the same things referred to quite a bit, including Arizona Iced Tea, cocaine, Japanese art and language, Pokemon, the years 2001-2004, the term “sadboys” or “emotional boys,” lemonade, gatorade, and a few other things. It’s just a combination of a ton of strange non-sequiturs, drug references, and godlike cloudy vaporwave beats, and it’s one of the most interesting hip hop releases that I’m not sure if I should take seriously.
Almost everything about this mixtape screams “I’m being ironic!” but I still hold out hope that Yung Lean is making this album with absolute seriousness. He’s a kid singing and rapping about stuff he likes to do, which just includes having a good time and playing Pokemon and drinking both alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages (I assume he’s of legal drinking age in Sweden). Either way, whether he’s serious or not should not distract from the fact that this mixtape is full of catchy hooks, incredibly odd lyrics (“I could buy you lemonade/Buy you drugs”), and sincere emotion.
Now, chances are you will not enjoy this mixtape. Or you will enjoy it ironically so you can join up in the “sadboys” movement before it becomes as huge as the “Based God Task Force” movement (#ProtectLilB #LilBIsMyFriend2013). And both of those things are okay. But what I’m saying is that “Unknown Death 2002” is one of the greatest examples of outsider hip-hop I’ve ever heard. Plus, it’s a very relaxing release. Who cares if the guy behind this mixtape isn’t even old enough to play his own shows? The Internet is a powerful tool, and it’s good to see some of the most interesting artists out there get the attention they deserve, whether they’re joking or not.
#sadboys \ e m o t i o n a l \ #ArizonaIcedOut2003
SCORE – 8.8
FAVORITE TRACKS – Nitevision, Oceans 2001, Gatorade, Hurt, Lemonade, Emails, Heal You // Bladerunner