Friday, September 19, 2014

Live Review - Yung Lean - Unknown Memory

It's happening! Again!!

Wow, three reviews in three days. Fall is absolutely nuts for music. Maybe new FlyLo will leak tomorrow, then RTJ2 the day after, and then umm... new Kendrick, and then new Ye to finish off the leak week. Yeah definitely. Could happen.

So what's up with Yung Lean?

Man where do you even start? I don't think anyone's been able to explain exactly why so many people like Yung Lean. Like, I know why I like him, but it doesn't seem like those things would appeal to so many other people. I remember at one point realizing that Yung Lean was the only musical artist that everyone living in my house listened to and liked. What's up with that?

I think part of it is that Yung Lean isn't just one phenomenon, he's like... the product of a bunch of elements that were all "blowing up", or on the verge of "blowing up". Like:

-"Outsider artists": people like Lil B and Viper had never been more popular. Same w/ people who just seemed like they demographically "shouldn't" be rapping, even if they had grown up listening to hip hop.

-Vaporwave aesthetics: stuff like slowed down samples of 80s pop songs, Japanese text, early 90s computer graphics "old internet" nostalgia... the microgenre was making "waves" on the small and overlapping circles of /mu/ and tinymixtapes

-mass production consumerization fetishization: Arizona Ice Tea, McDonalds, fad toys from our childhoods... the sort of thing that makes you shoot your music video at Wal Mart

-extremely casual drug reference: just mentioning incidentally using lean (ofc), benzos, opiates, psychedelics, with a sort of implied reason. That is, no justification is given for the drug use, it is understood that both the rapper and the listener understand why the drugs are being used. And that is:

-S A D B O Y S: extreme but undramatic openness over really bleak emotional states. "Why do I gotta be alive/I ain't bout that life". A pervasive and unstoppable but unsourced sadness. Sad rap.

-the intersection of the previous three is also a big part of the "alt lit" aesthetic.

-dropping all sorts of high fashion references, lots of Gucci and Louis and stuff. Really popular in hip hop in general and the intersection between this, consumer products, and drugs is like... the Yung Lean trifecta. "Louis duffel bag bag filled with heroin", etc.

-cloudrap or whatever people ended up calling that was insanely popular at the time

-and beyond that, there seems to be a movement towards a sort of beat/rapping integration that goes beyond rhythmic or melodic qualities, a sort of aesthetic unity between the beat and the rapping. I think this idea is at the heart of both the Chiraq and new Atlanta rappers, and is probably why I like those two scenes so much, and maybe even why they're getting so popular. And Yung Lean is all about that. It's hard to tell where his voice starts and the beat ends.

-extremely quotable, memorable lines... every track having a few lines that you just can't help referencing as often as you can, on or offline. If you're really mean you can call this meme rap.

I think if some Illuminati-tier promoters worked together to, for whatever reason, make a Swedish kid blow up worldwide, they couldn't have come up with a more perfect and coordinated attack. And yet, this all happened naturally, spontaneously, in that beautiful way that only the internet can make happen.

And oh man beyond that, some really inexplicable stuff is further boosting his career, like, did you know Yung Lean is really popular among Dota players? Yeah, really! This Dota pro named Arteezy made a team called Arizona Iced Boys, or something. But then they had to change it for copyright reasons, so they became Sadboys. Then they got sponsored and became EG's Dota team. And Arteezy still plays Yung Lean a lot when he streams, apparently. Like, what the hell? Now on Yung Lean things you'll see a bunch of Dota memes in the comments. This is really beyond comprehension.

Okay well let's dive in to the album. I'm so excited. I hope you're excited too.

Yung Lean - Unknown Memory
Live Review

1. Blommor (Intro)
Interesting static sorta sounds and stuff. Like tuning into something maybe. I like the way the background is welling up and shifting. Cool breakbeats or whatever. And then the synths at 1:00 are a really classic Sadboys sound. Cool.

2. Blinded
Nice transition too. Wow yeah i like this beat a lot. "ALL THIS ICE MAKE ME BLINDED" wow he's really going in with this, this is so emotional. You can hear his accent a bit when he yells like this and it's really great. Wow this flow is nuts man "Mitsubishi cruising down the lanes like it's Nascar", "Countin stacks with my boys in the sushi bar". What's funny is that he's actually successful now but he raps just like when he was in his bedroom. That's really funny and awesome. This beat is really cloudy but also just trill as hell. Wow at 2:20 there was a really sick transition, it felt like he got pulled right into the beat. Yeah this is sick... How does he come up with it? Like beyond the lyrics and themes and stuff... just the sound of it. What programs... what machines... idk. His voice on this hook has a "shadow" that sorta sounds like ASAP Rocky's really low voice thing lol. S+

3. Sunrise Angel
Oh man I love his song titles too lol. He has some really good ones. This intro is pretty cool... it's like I'm still listening to Syro heh heh heh. woah damn I love this flow. These vocal effects and those heavy drums "Got that orange juice and gin through my conscious in the bin". "Sad money, dirty heaven, everything is paid for" oh damn and sometimes he even says something that makes you THINK yknow. This is nuts omg. This extreme autotune is so infectious. It drills into you in the best way. He's going so far in on these verses jesus wow. And when the drums come in!! "Spend my money on the catbus"??? "Smoking green like a cactus"?? So many good lines?? Damn and that outro, so rugged and raw. *

4. Yoshi City
Okay this was a single I listened to it like 500 times. And the fact that the album so far has been on par with it is amazing holy cow. This one is sweet... the bass is solid man, it really rumbles. And like "I'm a lonely cloud", is that not... what everyone in the history of the world has felt like every time they stopped lying to themselves for a bit? btw in Civilization I usually name my first city "Yoshi's Island", I think I stole that from my cousin, now you can steal it from me I guess. It's a really good one. But yeah this bangs. Sad banger. Drive to the beach on a cold day sorta banger. Drink two beers before going to bed early sorta banger. When he does the hook with the pitch shift it really gets to me. And the more you think about the rhythm of the melody, the better it gets. *

5. Ice Cold Smoke
Short one... wow cool I love this beat structure. I love these really warbly almost nauseating (in a good way) autotuned melodies. "Just got a cheque, might burn it up" damn. "See me blowing ice cold smoke, finna roll up", blowing ice cold smoke, that's honestly just a very interesting and poetic image. Wowww and the slowdown for the outro, this is awesome. S-

6. Dog Walk (Intermission)
This is cool... seems like it could be the soundtrack of one of the good and not lame "artistic retro indie games". I like this sorta sound a lot. Nice. Good intermission.

7. Don't Go
ooooh... very delicate on this intro. Ahh... okay yeah. I love this. This is like, the sort of shit I like to see from Burial. To get it here, too... haha... how??? I'm really feeling this one. Wow yes the way the bass filled up in there... OH AND HIS VOICE COMING IN. omg. i'm so excited. OKAY YES. that was perfect, that was the exact sort of transition I wanted to hear. I love this sorta flow of just five or six lines looped. "Burn it down for Princess Peach/But you could never hear me preach" OKAY WOW THAT'S HOW HE STARTED HIS VERSE. goat rapper goat of all goats. "I hear police sirens, I'm smoking burnt tires"... This is intense and yet very calming and airy. How is he doing this? Now back to the original "verse" sorta thing. Good shit wow. And again the pitch shift outro, I love that trick. **

8. Ghosttown
Ft TRAVI$ SCOTT??? haha WHAT? This is the only feature on the album. BUT NOW: Young Thug and Yung Lean are only one degree of separation apart. HAHA YES. BTW THIS SOUNDS AWESOME. the beat is intense. "I don't give a fuck about no one except me!" the vocal effect on this verse is so solid. simple but so solid, that doubling. His flow is sometimes so good, the way he drops a quick double time line, oh man and this dropping at the end... oh snap at 2:00, that autotune chorus, that's sick. that's so good. haha yup it's actually him. damn wow going in. DAMN. WOW. GOING. IN. "We don't want alcohol or green, just sprite and codine" yup yeah. "I know those boys in Stockholm, they know that city my home" haha wow sweet. "They're my motherfucking homies, salute!" jesus this makes sense. This is the sort of music you hear in a weird dream, a dream so weird you have to tell people and you feel like you must be remembering it wrong. and it's so good I must be dreaming too. Yung Lean needs to collaborate with everyone. Everyone needs to get in on this. Everyone good at least. ***

9. Monster
GODZILLA, GOBLIN, KING KONG, LOCH NESS, idk ZOMBIE WITH NO CONSCIOUS, something like that. This is cool. I love that sort of "horn synth", that's like his trademark now. And this simple beat coming in... this one's gonna get nuts i can feel it. I think Don't Go also had the big transition exactly a minute in, hmmmm. This is sweet though. Slow monstrous flow. "Roses in my bathtub", just like... little images like that. "Too many lames trying to do what I've done", this is actually 100% true. This synth line is really catchy lol. "Smoking this dope, I think I'm going insane", like, that sort of line... is he actually? Wait, does he mean heroin or weed? I have no idea lmao. This is so good man. Feels so real. And yet I actually have no idea what sort of problems Yung Lean "actually" faces. But I know for sure he feels this type of way. *

10. Volt
ooh spooky. Very dramatic. Will we see another transition into the verse at 1:00?? Ooh very interesting things happening... really strange interesting sounds. This really "shifting" feeling, a sense of things. OMG I LOVE THIS FLOW. "I got orange juice and doobies" haha. So many good lines here wow. This sort of stuttered flow is amazing though I really like it. This is just straight bumping. So much momentum and energy here, and yet such a great sense of emotional... idk... relapse? Exposure? Like it feels both very well engineered and yet raw and open. How? Howww??? Whatever good shit wow nice job. **

11. Leanworld
10/10 title. This beat is really cool too... that really icey echoey piano. And then autotune wailings... man I really feel like that's the sound of lean. "Key in the gate, it's a lean world. Heaven lean kingdom with a lean girl". I think. Beautiful story of meeting true love... I guess that's the key underneath the title on the album art. Man why does this "feel like lean" when I've never drank lean and I honestly am not sure if Yung Lean has either. But this "feels like lean" for sure. This verse is getting pretty intense... he goes in so smoothly and naturally. Or "Have a lean kingdom with a lean girl"? This is beautiful... this is like drifting through one of those gassy pink nebulas you see pictures of sometimes. Or like a opium infused version of iidx Empress. **

12. Sandman
woah haha I really like this intro. very playful. haha oh MAN this flow is bumping. I can't keep up with these lyrics at all but I can hear all sorts of fantastic lines. he will NEVER stop going in, it seems. This feels so triumphant, this is a victory anthem. And man he fucking did it. Never forget how amazing it is that he is where he is. He deserves all of it. "Fishscale salmon", like, that right there, that alone... no one else would ever say that lol. **

13. Helt Ensam (Outro)
Umm I assume that title is Swedish I guess. no idea what it means. This will prolly be instrumental too... this is really cool though. It feels like something is breaking, shutting down. There's a sort of melancholy to it. One of the most intriguing but mysterious aspects of the Yung Lean sound, that true sadness deep in the heart of it. Or maybe I'm projecting. But there's still a pretty cool rhythm here. And i think a sort of vinyl static sound maybe. wow I like the way it sorta "doubles up". I want to "leak" both this album and Syro but swap the last tracks and see if people notice lmao. WOAH the BASS. at 2:20. that's some... um... wow. i think this would be totally incompatible with my earbuds. The visualizer spectrograph thing I have in foobar is like all black on the left lol. haha that was cool. S+


I might have more to say about this later but that's good enough for now.

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