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Yung Lean - Unknown Memory (2014)
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Yung Lean - Unknown Memory (2014)

24-09-2014, 15:34
Music | Hip-Hop



Yung Lean - Unknown Memory (2014)

Artist: Yung Lean
Title Of Album: Unknown Memory
Year Of Release: 2014
Label: Sky Team
Genre: Hip-Hop
Quality: AAC 256 Kbps
Total Time: 41:54 min
Total Size: 85 MB

Tracklist:

01. Blommor (Intro)
02. Blinded
03. Sunrise Angel
04. Yoshi City
05. Ice Cold Smoke
06. Dog Walk (Intermission)
07. Don't Go
08. Ghosttown (feat. Travi$ Scott)
09. Monster
10. Volt
11. Leanworld
12. Sandman
13. Helt Ensam (Outro)

Born Jonatan Leandoer Håstad, Yung Lean is an 18-year-old Swede who speaks, raps, and sings over beats mostly created by members of his Sad Boys clique. His general shtick is an approximation of contemporary swag-rap that comes across as a mixture of tribute and parody; he initially attracted notice as a kind of musical meme. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine Lean gaining an audience without visuals, and the video for "Ginseng Strip 2002" exemplifies his approach: the baby-faced rapper dons his now-trademark bucket hat and a bad Southern accent, shouting out Makaveli within the clip's opening seconds. His verses are stilted, his movements awkward; he resembles a rap-obsessed misfit from a summer camp who freestyles poorly and doesn’t worry about distinguishing between the positive and negative attention he's receiving. And Lean receives plenty of both: the video has over 2.6 million views, and fans and haters still lob pejoratives at each other in the comments section to this day.
On last year’s Unknown Death 2002 mixtape, Lean’s rapping was wooden but relatively easy to ignore, and those who found themselves responding in earnest to his music may have been attracted to the cloudy instrumentals provided by producers such as Yung Gud and Yung Sherman. On the trance-like “Gatorade”, Lean’s voice was screwed up and down the register so often that he simply became part of an appealingly chaotic mix; “Lemonade” was a blatant Clams Casino rip-off, but the imitation was accurate enough to capture that producer’s appeal.
As a whole, Yung Lean wields the appeal of a charming reality star: he's ridiculous without knowing it. His new album, Unknown Memory, is reminiscent of the second season of "Jersey Shore", where it slowly became clear that the cast was in on the joke. The record finds Yung Lean doubling down on every part of his personality that hit home with those initially drawn to his music, while simultaneously scrubbing away the most amateurish (and most likable) parts of his sound.
He’s added two notable tricks to his arsenal: a bastardized form of dub, and a heightened tendency to eschew rapping altogether in favor of Auto-Tuned wailing. This latter development flatters the fidelity of his music—one can easily imagine a track from Unknown Memory passing by anonymously in a public space—but it also makes many of these songs indistinguishable from one another. Consequently, it's harder to ignore Yung Lean's vocals to focus on his more palatable beats; “Sunrise Angel” and “Yoshi City” are relatively interesting production-wise, but Lean’s voice is too high in the mix. His revamped flow, which cements him as a terrible rapper rather than someone who doesn't know how to rap, comes across as more grating than his older, more fruitless attempts at piecing verses together. The most engaging song here, the Travis Scott-featuring “Ghosttown”, might have been more potent if Yung Lean didn't appear on it at all.
One of Lean’s noteworthy qualities has always been his expression of sad feelings, and on Unknown Memory that tendency is kicked into overdrive. On the hook of “Yoshi City”, he refers to himself as a “lonely cloud”; on “Monster”, over the same brassy synths and a TNGHT-like build, he laments “nothing matters anymore.” “Leanworld” finds the rapper reaching the nadir of this expression—it’s a swampy, soupy production, almost unimaginably irritating in the club-land fantasy it conjures up. These sentiments feel like the performative sadness that’s been explored with much more sophistication by artists like Lana Del Rey; in comparison, Yung Lean’s expression sounds empty.
Yung Lean's tendencies to randomly emote and stunt come in part from approximating the real emotions of the music he takes his cues from—mostly, Southern and West Coast rap ranging from the sad robotics of Future to the anything-goes ethos of Lil B. But he never shows any real emotional investment in the style he’s chosen, and his lyrics and tone don’t reveal much personality beyond “rap fan.” Yung Lean isn’t bringing anything new to rap; instead, he’s making cheap copies of his actual role models, and in doing so he removes the humanity of the rappers he’s imitating, creating unwitting caricatures of those artists and not much more.







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