yung lean & sad boys
2003. Arizona iced out boys. Yung Leandoer Shawty. Emotional boys 2001. Emotional shawtys in this bitch.
Yung Lean is living out his beautiful, dark, twisted rap fantasy. At just 17, the Stockholm native is touring Europe with his mates and surely having the time of his life. "It's nice," he tells me. "But I dunno, travelling around Europe makes me realise how much Sweden sucks." Having started out making music with a Singstar microphone at the age of 12, Yung Lean and his crew eventually uploaded their videos to youtube and the internet caught on.
When I first discovered Yung Lean, I thought I'd stumbled upon a bunch of weird kids and the after-school iPhone rap videos they'd haphazardly covered with Japanese script and digital glitter stickers. I was right. It was the millions of views that confused me. Turns out Jonatan Leandoer Hastad and his Sad Boys - producers Yung Sherman and Yung Gud - have started something with the all the buzz of early Odd Future. Touring and performing with their friends Gravity Boys (ecco2k, Bladee and whitearmor) along with several girlfriends, they have a huge following of dedicated fans that turn up to their shows in bucket hats, take photos in unofficial Sad Boy cry poses and know every single word to every single song. The Scandi teens are slowly but surely infiltrating the music scene. And why the hell not?
With a super chilled flow, the simple yet obtuse lyrics casually jump between Oreo milkshakes and fucking bitches, pokemon and pissing on the floor. Lyrics read like a random word poetry generator with access to Urban Dictionary, the autotuned bars sitting atop unassumingly beautiful and often Eastern-inspired production. This is post-internet music for a post-internet generation.
Before yet another sold out London show (and before A$AP Rocky appears through a secret entrance and hangs about backstage with his security), I sit in a dark room with the polite yung rap god and get his views on girls, technology and the current state of the world…
What's life like now compared to how it used to be?
Different, very different. It has more of a purpose now, which is nice. It's more fun but I get less sleep.
Who do you think has the best fashion sense ever?
Your bucket hat thing seems to have caught on with your fans!
Yeah, I can't wear bucket hats anymore because now everyone wears them.
Did you have a favourite?
Yeah, I had a polo one which I liked but then I exchanged it with Yung Sherman for a scarf.
Is that why you're sad?
I'm not sad. We just thought Sadboys was a good name.
What makes you happy then?
Good coffee, making nice music and True Detective.
What nice music are you into at the moment?
On this trip I've been listening to a lot of Yung Thug and Joy Division.
How much autotune is too much autotune?
I don't think there can be such a thing. It's not about too much, more about how you use it. It shouldn't sound like a gimmick, it should sound good.
What's your favourite emoji?
The 100. It's really simple and sometimes I exchange that for writing OK, which is useful. I like the wavy one too, and the new Soulja Boy one which is just his face with a Gucci tattoo on it. It's really nice.
Who's your dream girl?
Cara Delevingne, she's good.
What would you do to make her like you?
I think if we click then we click and if we don't then we don't. It's that simple.
I heard that she's dating a girl at the moment, how do you feel about that?
That's nice! I'm a little sad but mostly happy for her.
What do you think about the current state of the world?
It sucks. It fucking sucks.
Why does it suck?
No one's experiencing the real world anymore and people have such fucked up opinions. When we were little kids we didn't have the internet so we didn't have a choice of what music to listen to, what movies to watch, or what books to read. But the kids growing up now only know that world. They're 6 years old and have iPads. But that's just the internet - the rest of the world sucks as well. Russia sucks. A lot of things should be legalised that aren't. We still have a monarchy in Sweden, and we have a nationalist party led by a racist dick. It's a horrible world.
What's the best thing about the internet?
And the worst thing?
You can't take anything away. There's no delete button.
Where do you see the future of rap going?
I think a bunch of rappers coming up are more and more influenced by new rap instead of the 90s, so I think it will just continue to evolve and become more honest - more nihilistic. Rap doesn't have to have a certain sound anymore. You can just create something from your inspirations and bring your own style into it. Because of the internet, a person like me can rap and manage to have a career.
Long live the internet. Do you believe in aliens?
Yes, I think they look like us. You and me could be aliens right now. Are you an alien?
Yes. You're into Game of Thrones right? If you were in GOT, which character would you be?
The dwarf, he's nice.
And which character would you want to fuck?
Daenerys. I feel bad though, I wish I was a better fan.
What do you think you'll be doing in ten years time?
Anything and everything to do with music.
Text Francesca Dunn