ALBUM REVIEW: Yung Lean – Warlord

Internet icon, nostalgia enthusiast and rapper Yung Lean releases his second LP that takes baby steps towards progression.

                 Warlord by Yung Lean | Release Date: 25th Feb 2016 | Label: Year0001

Ask someone what internet celebrities they know and they’re more than likely to mention your typical names: Tyler Oakley, Zoella, DanIsNotOnFire etc. Unlike these monumental figures, Yung Lean is more likely to utilise Youtube to rap about Pokemon and other Nintendo figures than he is to make a vlog which no doubt lead to him acquiring  a dedicated following of bucket hat loving sad boys and girls.

At the age of 19, Yung Lean, real name Jonatan Aron Leandoer Håstad, has done more for himself than most people his age with his own label and one studio album under his belt which comes down to not being lost in translation. Just like another fellow swede and internet icon, a little guy known as PewDiePie, Yung Lean has managed to be enjoyable to an international audience.

Whilst there’s not a total leap forward in terms of Lean evolving as an artist, he has been making music for the past three years after all, he has managed to make a sophomore album that is impressive in terms of productions. No doubt the standout feature of Warlord, there’s various moments where Lean delves into some dark territory with some haunting sounds that are very reminiscent of the approach Crystal Castles took on (III).

This may not be apparent on your first listen as the changes when comparing Warlord to Lean’s debut Unknown Memory only begin to standout after repeated listenings which you’ll find yourself doing with some of the tracks on offer here.

Let’s take Hoover for instance, one of the best tracks of the year so far with a very heavy , dirty synth beat and an abnormal chime that could have easily stood out of place if it appeared anywhere other than a Lean song. Shawty U Know What It Do may have a very dated and cliché name but the production value on this track on top of the leering bass and synthesizer results in a catchy glimmer of what I’d like to see more on this album.

For someone who isn’t even an adult yet, Lean seems to have his production down to near perfection which does make you think why he isn’t focusing on some other elements of his music, more specifically his vocal delivery which comes across as lazy and boring at times. Call it him still finding his footing when it comes to rapping in English but it sometimes paint the picture of him being named an internet rapper because he’s lying in bed when recording his songs rather than him displaying any sort of passion or emotion.

When all is said and done, Warlord is an album that benefits greatly from how the instrumentals sound and not the artist in question. Sub par vocals and a lack of variety when it comes to the aforementioned production results in Lean’s LP being very bittersweet: a glimmer of hope that he can break any prejudices people may have about him whilst at the same time being a struggle to get through at times.

5/10

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