Three days ahead of the release of his new LP Stranger, Jonatan Leandoer Håstad – better know as Sad Boys rapper Yung Lean – has dropped a track off the record titled Metallic Intuition.
Characteristically low-fi, off-beat and faded, Metallic Intuition signals good things to come from the Swedish rapper’s new drop. Premiered on Zane Lowe’s Beats1, Yung Lean described how the track differs from the rest of the upcoming album. Lean said:
“Metallic Intuition, I think it was the most hip hop beat track on the whole album. When I first heard the beat, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not going to sing on this. I’m going to actually sit down and write something…I guess it became the most ‘rappy’ song on the whole project and it’s kind of a stand-out track.”
This track feels like a natural progression from his previous album Warlord. Since Yung Lean came crashing on to the scene in a beige bucket hat, rain jacket and some serious white boy Lil B vibes in 2013, the rapper has gone in a progressively darker direction. Since the heady days of Ginseng Strip 2002, where a 16-year-old Lean bopped around in a Swedish shopping centre rapping about getting brain off a cokehead that looks like Zooey Deschanel, the young rapper’s music has undergone a remarkable development.
Initially dismissed by some as too ironic for his own good – with a review in Pitchfork magazine blasting his music as dehumanizing caricatures of his idols – Warlord brought some interesting new sounds to the table. Produced by Kanye West associate Mike Dean, tracks like Hoover, served crashing percussion and sharp synth sounds and dreamier, lightly auto tuned tracks like Fire gave some contrasting, ethereal flavour. Since being included in a feature on Frank Ocean’s 2016 hit album Blond, it seems like Yung Lean was blazing a new trail for ‘Sad Boy’ rappers everywhere.
Metallic Intuition suggests Stranger may be a continuation of this more mature, experimental path. Still loyal to Yung Lean’s signature drawl, the track brings together melancholic synths, rumbling bass and echoing, sinister add-lib, but still with plenty of the irreverent, audacious lyrics that will keep loyal fans happy. Memorable bars with Lean’s idiosyncratic humour include: “Imma leave every leaf that grows after me/ Come and see bitch we deep, human centipede” and “I don’t really care, got metallic intuition/ Give a fuck about the system / Narnia gave me wisdom.”
This consistency is welcome after the tumultuous events leading up to the release of Warlord, which culminated in Yung Lean being admitted to a mental institution. Usually based out of Stockholm, Lean had gone to spend some time in Miami to write Warlord. He was 18 at the time, and just finishing up a U.S. wide tour organised by his American manager Barron Machat.
Barron is a respected figure in the American scene, known for his faith in experimental acts. In Miami, Barron had an apartment where Lean and his entourage could stay. After doing a few shows, most of the Swedish crew that had accompanied him flew home. Fellow Sad Boy rapper Yung Sherman commented: “I remember I felt like, why is he going to stay? Why isn’t he just going home? We’ve been away for so long, what is he going to do here now? It seems unnecessary for him to stay.”
These events were the beginning of a major incident for the then 18-year-old rapper. Heavily addicted to the drug from which he draws his stage name – codeine syrup – and other drugs including Xanax, weed and cocaine, Lean began to experience psychotic episodes. The rapper began dressing in nurses’ scrubs, suffered from chronic insomnia and started carrying a knife. After one night where Lean tore up Barron’s apartment, his US manager decided to take him to the hospital.
Once Lean had been admitted to the hospital, the rapper became paranoid about being separated from his hard drives, and called Barron to bring them one night. Barron obliged, and drove to the hospital with Hunter Karman, a producer from Los Angeles. On the way to the hospital, Barron crashed the car and the engine caught fire. Karman was rescued from the flaming wreck, but Barron died. According to the report from the Miami Police Department, Barron had taken Xanax that night.
Since Lean’s recovery – which included flying home to Sweden, boxing lessons and some serious self-reflection – Lean pulled through the tough times in Miami with Warlord. Still coming through with the worldlier, angsty sound cultivated on Warlord, Metallic Intuition shows us how the kid in the bucket hat with the monotone bars is maturing into one of Europe’s most interesting musicians.
Yung Lean – Stranger Tracklist
- Muddy Sea
- Red Bottom Sky
- Silver Arrows
- Metallic Intuition
- Push/ Lost Weekend
- Salute / Pacman
- Drop It / Scooter
- Hunting My Own Skin
- Snakeskin / Bullets
- Fallen Demon
Yung Lean – European Tour Dates
23/11/2017 Moscow Yota Space, Russia
26/11/2017 Krakow Klub Kwardrat, Poland
27/11/2017 Munich Theaterfabrik, Germany
29/11/2017 Prague Lucerna – Velky sal, Czech Republic
30/11/2017 Warsaw Klub Progresja, Poland
02/12/2017 Berlin ASTRA Kulturhaus, Germany
03/12/2017 Amsterdam Melkweg Max, The Netherlands
05/12/2017 Cologne Live Music Hall, Germany
06/12/2017 Hamburg Docks, Germany
09/12/2017 Frankfurt Batschkapp, Germany
12/12/2017 London Roundhouse, UK
13/12/2017 Manchester Academy, UK