Yung Lean // Stranger
Yung Lean is very much an artist worth paying attention to.
For many, listening to Yung Lean, the 21-year-old "sadboi" rapper from Sweden, comes from a place of irony. It wasn't until a career-changing accident — and The Fader article that covered it — that people started to look underneath Lean's vaporwave-tinted surface. Stranger is Yung Lean's third LP and his most consistent to date. Its title is ironic considering that these beats could've been sampled directly from the Stranger Things OST. While Lean's rapping may fall flat, those instrumentals are easily the strongest part of Stranger and make for some of the most intriguing production in current hip-hop. Lean is at his best when he refuses to be pigeonholed. "Red Bottom Sky" is an aesthetic love ballad that Drake would be proud of, while late-album highlight "Agony" is a departure from anything he's tried before. Despite not being an exceptional singer, he presents a raw piano piece detailing a psychotic episode. "When I'm afraid, I lose my mind/It's fine, it happens all the time/Isolation, caved in/I adore you, the sound of your skin," he delivers lethargically during the song's refrain. It's a beautiful moment on what is, at the very least, an interesting album, proving Yung Lean is very much an artist worth paying attention to.
— Aaron Mook