Yung Lean – Unknown Death 2002 [Album Review]

Yung Lean 2

Yung Lean is a rapper who has been receiving his fair share of attention on the internet lately.  Some of the attention is hype, some of it is curiosity, and some of it is hate.  I first heard about him because he was featured on Blockhead’s blog.  His persona intrigued me, particularly the whole #sadboys thing, so I decided that I should give him a chance.  When I noticed that this album was free on bandcamp, I decided that I had found a good opportunity to see what this guy is all about.  I’ll tell you right now that I don’t like him at all and I don’t like this album at all.

The main aspect of this album that I don’t like is Yung Lean’s rapping.  He’s just a bad rapper.  The topics that he raps about are uninteresting, he has practically no energy in his delivery, his flow is weak, basic at best, and his lyrical skills are very limited.  What bothers me the most about him is how lazy his rapping is.  I’m pretty sure that he could flow pretty well if he wanted to and I’m positive that he could be more energetic.  He isn’t, though, because he doesn’t seem to care.  It’s like he just shows up to the studio, barely awake, and records some verses that he typed into the notes on his iPhone on the drive to the studio.  That’s a quality that I generally can’t stand in a rapper.  On the rare occasion that they’re actually entertaining to listen to, I don’t have too much of a problem with it, but Yung Lean isn’t entertaining at all.  He reminds me of a significantly worse version of Lil B, due to his raps being a mixture of ignorant raps and raps that are meant to evoke an emotional response.  Also, #sadboys reminds me of a lot of Lil B trends that have floated around on the internet.  I’m not a fan of Lil B as a rapper; add that to the fact that I think that Yung Lean is significantly worse than Lil B and you should be able to see that Yung Lean isn’t a special rapper at all.  He isn’t absolutely horrible, but on this album, he gives one of the least impressive mic performances I’ve heard in quite some time.

The only aspect of this album that I could see anyone liking is the production.  To further the Lil B comparison, these beats are cloud rap beats, the same type of beats that were popularized by Lil B’s music.  Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of cloud rap.  It can be good at times, but I don’t get why it’s become the huge trend that it is.  When done right, it can actually be really good.  This album is an example of cloud rap done wrong.  I don’t have a clue who produced these beats, but in my opinion, they didn’t do a very good job.  A lot of these beats sound alright at first, but they become tedious very quickly.  These beats are very repetitive, which was a good thing back in the ’90s, when done by producers like Pete Rock and DJ Premier, who were masters of digging up infectious loops, but is a bad thing in this album’s case.  There are only two beats I can honestly say that I like on the entire album.  None of these beats are straight up annoying, but they’re very lackluster.  They’re not even good enough for me to recommend this album to cloud rap fans; that should put it into perspective at least as well as anything else I’ve said in this paragraph.

On this album, there’s only one song that I actually like, which is “Princess Daisy.”  I don’t like Yung Lean’s rapping on it, but that beat is too nice to ignore.  It’s basically a fusion of cloud rap and boom bap, which is totally awesome.  I don’t even know how a beat that good made it onto an album like this.  Truth be told, that’ll be the only song that I keep on my iPod.  The only other song that’s kind of good is “Welcome 2 Unknown Death.”  It has a nice saxophone sample and, more importantly, it’s short and, therefore, more tolerable than most of the rest of the album.  Other than those two songs, I don’t like any of the songs on this album at all.  None of them are straight up garbage, although a few of them come close, but most of them are bad or lame, to some extent.  It’s because of that that I don’t enjoy this album and that, after three listens, I have absolutely no desire to listen to it again.

Besides that one song, I don’t really like anything about this album.  Yung Lean is a bad rapper who doesn’t connect with me or entertain me in any way, these beats are lame, even relative to their sub-genre, which I’m not crazy about, and there are only two songs that don’t bore me or irritate me.  For all of those reasons, this is the worst hip hop album of the year that I’ve heard so far.  It’s a bad album and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, at the high chance of them disliking it.  Just download “Princess Daisy” and leave the rest alone.  It’s not worth your time.

Rating: 2/5