It’s an oddity to me that I both respect Yung Lean and don’t really like him at the same time. It helps though if I parse that sentence and explain it to both the reader and to myself. I respect Yung Lean for being self-aware. He knows as a white rapper from Sweden he’s had access and privilege that other people never get. I appreciate that he’s humble and respectful about his place in the larger rap music and hip-hop diaspora. That said when I’ve listened to his music it doesn’t really do anything for me. It’s well produced and well executed but it’s clearly meant for an entirely different generation with different expectations of what “rapping” is.

“I love how she dancing, got me fiending for you
You say that you love me, I don’t know if it’s true
When I go to sleep all I ever see is you
I can be your savior, everything that we’ve been through”

The Acea produced “Hennessy & Sailor Moon” off “Frost God” summarizes the contradiction. It isn’t just that the rhyme structure is incredibly basic — rhyming “you” with “true” and “through” is as kindergarten as it gets. It isn’t just that Yung Lean is singing all of these words — and he’s not any kind of vocalist who ever would’ve been signed to Motown in its heyday. It’s all of these things combined with a lack of depth that masquerades as thoughtful thanks to airy minimalistic beats. Tracks like the Whitearmor and Acea produced “Kirby” sound cool but would actually be better as background music in a JRPG. Yung Lean doesn’t have anything interesting to say. He might be a Swede but his topics are as American as … well not apple pie because that’s actually European, but you know what I mean. Hey — “lean” and “mean.” That sounds like one of his bars.

“I think that she might be my type
Prada shades on my face, I’m alright
My chain black and my diamonds white
Fuck all the fame and the hype”

I sincerely wish Yung Lean was a better rapper on “Frost God.” I’m not going to buy the excuse that English isn’t his first language, because there are plenty of Europeans who speak better English than Americans or Canadians, so I refuse to believe he doesn’t know how basic his raps are. Singing his way through them doesn’t hide it. Having dope production doesn’t hide it. For a guy who I honestly believe is thoughtful, respectful and appreciative of the genre he’s in, he does very little in it other than mimic every other successful emo rapper. I expect more from him than this.

Yung Lean :: Frost God
5.5Overall Score