Written Before Listen
Yung Lean is one of the most famous Swedish rappers of our current time. Known for being a pioneer of Cloud Rap as well as having a strong cult following, he continues to carry on a strong fanbase every release. With that being said, he decided to continue with the underground approach by dropping a mixtape instead of an album so, without further ado, let's get into it.
Yung Lean was an artist that pioneered the genre of cloud rap due to his production choice. This time around, Yung Lean continues to choose airy, atmospheric, and ambient production, and this time around, the drum choice is more minimal than anything. More times than not, the drums are rather barely there or not there at all. I think in 35 minutes, it works some of the time but most of the time, it just sounds sleepy. I don't know if that's just Yung Lean in general but that’s always been my gripe with him, and that continues on this mixtape, unfortunately.
So Yung Lean has mentioned multiple influences from multiple places. People like Lil B and SpaceGhostPurrp are heavy influences on the cloud rap sound, but Yung Lean also has mentioned his love for genres like black metal, IDM, Art Pop, Dream Pop, and Post-Punk and all mentioned make sense. First off, the opener track sounds straight out of a New Order track and the track “Waterfall” is a Dream Pop track. Yung Lean also gets the help from Skrillex on this album and the songs “Lips” and “SummerTime Blood” wind up being two interesting Yung Lean tracks. Overall, I think the influences are a unique combination of styles and Yung Lean knows how to use them.
I have to admit the features are great choices, but some of them just don’t perform the way I would expect them to. We have the hook from FKA Twigs on “Bliss” which works in the circumstance, but I forget the feature exists after the track ends. Thaiboy Digital appears on “Starz2TheRainbow” and despite being one of my favorite tracks, I think it's more of it being imperfect. Ant Wan appears on the track “Paradise Lost” and he does his job but my favorite features have to be from Bladee and Ecco2k as they both kill their features on “SummerTime Blood”. Overall, I guess what I'm trying to say is that Yung Lean chose necessary features but would I say they do their best? No, but do they ruin the tracks? No.
So Yung Lean continues with his cloud rap venture. This time around, he does lean toward the ambient pop directions of it. There are also other unique ventures. The opening track for example is more post-punk than anything with its danceable drum beat and chorused bassline. The song “Lips” is pure Burial worship with its 2-step groove and laid-back feel. The song “Waterfall” is the longest track on the mixtape and it's mainly a 4-minute ambient pop track. There are also the common elements of R&B, EDM, and ambient in this mixtape. It shows that Yung Lean is surely a student of music.
At the beginning of the mixtape, it shows that Yung Lean is trying new things, but after the first couple of tracks, the new ideas get stale real quick. The lack of drums or even structure honestly makes this a sleepy listen more than anything. I’ll admit that Yung Lean brings new ideas, strong tracks, and dull ones but all mentioned appear equally.
This is more respect for the ambition than the enjoyment of the mixtape because I wasn’t a fan of this tape. I think it had its moments but after the 5 tracks or so, there isn’t a moment I’d revisit.