He really pulled a 180 on this one didn’t he?
I mean this is the same kid who, upon his introduction to the hip-hop world, relied on an arsenal of vapor-wave aesthetics and semi-serious slack rapping. The mashup of influences, ranging from Japanese culture, heavy drug use, and obsessions with brands like Arizona, Motorola and Polo, combined to produce truly weird material.
Then you hear that his inclusion of 2001, 2002, 2003 in song titles because “they were the most emotional years,” and quickly graze over his material, it can all come off as insubstantial and capitalizing off of fads. Sure it was fun, and songs like “Ginseng Strip 2002” and “Hurt” were as quotable as they were catchy but would the Sad Boys boss be around for more than a year?
It’s taken a few years, but the answer has emerged and it’s a resounding yes.
Why is the 19-year-old Swedish artist (not exactly a ton of them in the rap game) going to stick around?
Well, for two reasons.
The first reason’s name is Yung Gud, and he’s the best rap producer you likely haven’t heard of. He’s produced every bit of Lean’s best material. “Kyoto”, “Yoshi City”, “Gatorade”, “Ghosttown (feat. Travi$ Scott)”, all of them find Yung Lean at his best, when his lyrics find their home in the unmistakably heavy atmosphere of Gud’s beats.
The second reason is that he is not afraid to take risks. How many rappers in today’s landscape are confined to a DJ Mustard club sound and wouldn’t hop on anything that isn’t “hip-hop”? (Please don’t actually try and count this because it will take hours and make you instantly more cynical.) This is where Lean excels, in the space of experimentation.
His new single, “Hoover”, showcases both of these strengths and re-asserts him into the hip-hop landscape in a strong way. Gud’s brooding drums and Lean’s braggadocios (and at times cynical) lyrics prove that the trap sound is far from being confined to the streets of Atlanta.
Check out the stark, motorbike-heavy video below: