Yung Lean is the rap name of 16-year-old Lean Doer, whom Vice music blog Noisey profiled back in April. He is from Stockholm, Sweden, and has a posse, a group of fellow emcees called Sad Boys. They emphasize staying “emotional,” even if you are heavily blunted. You have probably never heard of them.
Lean has an Internet presence, however. His Soundcloud hosts a modest following, and his Facebook points to a mostly European fanbase. Yung Lean just released a video for the first single from his upcoming mixtape, Unknown Death 2002, which will be released July 9. It’s called “Hurt,” and like his six other YouTube videos, it is filled with the ghosts of Internets past. Lean heavily reps his inexplicable love of Arizona Iced Tea here. He juxtaposes a wall of Pokémon cards against hot-pink Louis Vuitton wallpaper, spiralling the viewer back to the year 2000.
Elsewhere, the teenager looks at his phone, possibly group texting the other members of Sad Boys to meet him in the park. He raps in front of multiple screens, at one point just filming a video of himself rapping, as so many do in the Vine age. He raps in front of a screenshot of a Google image search for “2003.” Is this the most meta rap video ever?
More questions: Has Yung Lean simply honed his artistic trolling skills after being raised on an Internet umbilical cord, or is he a true champion of a burgeoning Euro sad-boy rap movement? Is the headscarf/bucket hat look popular for teens in Sweden?
Yung Lean is part of a bigger culture of teens and 20-somethings—in America and abroad—who were raised on the Web, and found an aesthetic nostalgia for the early Aughts, that beautiful time when the Internet was still struggling to be smarter, faster. He’s of a generation that only knows social media, and tries to find some emotional connection in it. And that sort of translates with “Hurt,” but does aesthetic trump message?
Photo via yunglean.com