10 things you need to know about bladee
To celebrate the release of his celestial second album, Red Light, we get to know Drain Gang's dark angel.
Four years ago, almost to the month, we profiled Yung Lean and his Sad Boys before their show at Camden Barfly (RIP). There to bring their Pokémon-referencing after-school iPhone rap videos to bucket hat-wearing London fans for the very first time, it was a seminal night that even A$AP Rocky turned up for. Accompanying a then 17-year-old Yung Lean were producers Yung Sherman and Yung Gud (Sad Boys) as well as ECCO2K, whitearmor and today’s subject, Bladee (then Gravity Boys, now Drain Gang with bonus member Thaiboy Digital).
Bladee isn’t just someone who features heavily on Yung Lean’s albums – the Stockholm-based rapper has been releasing his own music since 2014. His style leans towards emotional rap with obscure lo-fi production – like something from a distorted video game. Through his solo debut album, Eversince, two mixtapes, a joint album with Thaiboy Digital called AvP, and last year’s Drain Gang collab, D&G, he has evolved into a sort of auto-tuned dark angel.
What’s more, 2017 also saw him ascend to the position of Creative Director of Yung Lean’s much-lusted after Sadboys Gear merch. Presumably feeling weird reading about this ‘Yung Lean associate, Bladee’ all the time, Yung Lean has exhibited a keenness to point out just how important Bladee is to him, recently tweeting: “just to make things clear bladee is not my sidekick. hes been the goat since day1 n from me Its all love (sic).”
Excitingly, last week Bladee released his second solo album, Red Light on YEAR0001. Keeping it very much in the family, the celestial emo 14 tracker was exec-produced by Whitearmor and features ECCO2K as well as Uli K from London collective Bala Club. Lead single Decay set the precedent a week ago; a strange and beautiful echo-laden track centred around a simple, hopeful and hooky piano line. The accompanying music video, meanwhile, is somewhere between a winter whiteout and the glowy Mr Burns X-Files scene in The Simpsons . The whole album will, as one clever YouTuber pointed out, leave you wondering ‘why am I crying in the club rn?’
Armed with his killer new album and a shiny press shot courtesy of music friend Hannah Diamond, this Wednesday, the 16th of May, will see Bladee hit up London for a headline show at the O2 Academy Islington. As you listen to the album on repeat on prep, read up on these 10 fun facts about your boy:
1. His fans reckon he’s angelic.
“My fans always say I’m like a angel. I don’t identify with that. I’m not special, I’m just like you.”
2. When he was a kid he wanted to be an artist or a painter.
“I always liked to draw and stuff. I never thought I would do music full-time, but I’m fucking with it.”
3. The fictional character he most relates to is Ricky Bobby from the movie Taladega Nights.
“Sometimes I feel like Ricky Bobby in the Wonder Bread car when he sold his whole windshield to Fig Newtons. I find it hard to feel real though, so I try to not relate too much to fiction.”
4. He thinks Red Light would be the best soundtrack for...
“Fantasia, or ummm The Raven Flies.”
5. If he had Lordship over a Red Light castle, this is what the vibe would be:
“I would isolate myself. I'd have it sitting on top of a mountain looking over a lake or something real serene. I’d stay in there meditating for 20 years.”
6. The album opener is called 1D. Yep, after the boyband.
“I feel like me and my friends are the new One Direction ‘cause the fans love us, we created our own lane, and now we’re helping the youth create their own identities and love life.”
7. Nobody seems to know what Drain Gang means. Until now.
“#Drain is about loss and gain; it could be good or bad -- you could be drained of energy or you could drain something to gain energy. There’s financial, emotional and physical drains, for example -- you could just be draining your bank account at the store. It doesn’t have to be deep. Basically, if I’m talking about “eating the night” that means I drain it for its essence. Everything me and my bros do is connected to that concept -- we might drain some blood for good fortune.”
8. He makes great merch. Aside from his own, the best merch he owns is...
“Damn, I have to say my brother Leandoer's [Yung Lean], ‘cause we made his merch too.”
9. Everything and everyone around him provides inspiration.
“I just like to take in everything and try to put it through my own filter. My bro ECCO2K always inspires me to go harder.”
10. If he was a wrestler, his entrance music would be Fredo Santana’s I Might Just.
“I was just listening to Fredo (rest in peace) so maybe I Might Just go with him, ‘cause he says something about flexing like a wrestler, and my friends and I used to always go crazy to that song when it came out. Mankind is my favourite wrestler. Shout out Uli k!”