Thursday 25 September 2014

Review of 'Unknown Memory' by Yung Lean

Meet Yung Lean. He’s a white kid from Sweden whose musical style has been described as ‘sad rap’.

This is the dude’s debut full-length album. There are a million and one things wrong with this album but I don’t want to get carried away just yet with the negatives. Let’s take a moment first to examine what’s good about this record. Every cloud has a silver lining.

First thing’s first, Yung Lean is Swedish and raps in English. This is impressive. I wouldn’t be able to rap in a second language. I can’t even rap in English.

Secondly, Yung Lean definitely showcases his own style of rapping on this album. He delivers his rhymes more monotonously than any other rapper, more monotonously than most history teachers are capable of.

But that’s enough about history teachers, enough compliments for one day. Let’s discuss what makes this album suck.

The truth is Yung Lean’s ‘sad rap’ style of spitting is so dull, I felt like I was listening to paint dry. There’s nothing sad, or remotely emotional about it. He just comes across as apathetic and uninterested. Shaky auto-tune is used to spice his voice up on some tracks, but it doesn’t work. Yung Lean’s cadence seems to counter-act auto-tune, making his voice sound even more out of pitch than it was before. His flow has no rhythm and his lyrics are meanwhile garbage. ‘Smoking green like a cactus’. Honestly, what?

Listening to Yung Lean is like listening to a serious version of Lil B or Riff Raff. There's an element of trolling going on here, but its not done with any wit or conviction. I was cheering when Travis Scott turned up with a verse. It was refreshing to hear someone rapping with energy, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even like Travis Scott all that much.

So, yeah, I really don’t get the appeal of this dude. I can only imagine it’s the instrumentation that people are listening to him for. There’s a lush, moody vibe to all the beats and some really atmospheric moments that remind me of New Zealand dubtep duo, Mt. Eden. Most of these beats grow slightly stale, but they have an initial wow factor that may be enough to attract some fans. For me, this glitzy production isn’t enough to make up for the horrifically bad vocals constantly groaning away in the forefront. You can’t polish a turd, for a lack of a more polite saying. Sorry Yung Lean. Don’t expect me at any of your gigs.