In February this year, Yung Lean, the prodigious Swedish rap phenomenon, released Warlord, his second full-length studio album. After the official debut of his first album in 2014, following a mixtape and accompanying EP released the year earlier, Lean and his lineup of Sad Boys embarked on a whirlwind North American tour, kicking things off with a characteristically raucous performance in New York City’s Webster Hall. Following the conclusion of the tour, Lean, then 18 years old, retreated to the Miami apartment of his manager, Barron Machat, to work on what would eventually become Warlord.
Over the course of his stay in the States, Lean struggled seriously with addiction, beginning a series of events culminating in his eventual hospitalization and the death of Machat in a tragic car crash just a day later.
In light of the recent release of Warlord, The FADER published a lengthy profile on the Stockholm-based star and sat down with Lean himself to discuss what exactly his life looks like now, and what he plans on doing next.
Here are some of the highlights.
On his interests in music today:
“The concept is definitely not that complicated…I just make videos and stuff, there's not much more to it than that. I’m a musician trying to express myself. If it was the ’70s, I'd be a punk artist. I was just born into hip-hop.”
On some of the differences between living in America versus living in Sweden:
“We come from a very non-materialistic lifestyle, and just, you know, anxiety. At 21, people in Sweden will be like, ‘My life is over, and I'll just work for the rest of my life.’ So once you do get to the U.S. and someone meets you at the airport and gives you money and gives you drugs, we go too crazy.”
... and how those differences manifested themselves in his lifestyle:
“We had a rooftop party with Goth Money, Iceage, and Lust for Youth. All of us doing coke and smoking blunts. Very good crew, very good mix. And then some guys from Odd Future came with their, like, skateboards, and they just looked at us and walked away. They were like, ‘This party's too much.’"
On his changing relationship with his father:
“Back in the day we used to fight all the time…. I’d throw spaghetti at him, and he'd take out all the stuff from my studio in the basement. Not a violent relationship, but a very angry relationship. Ever since he picked me up in Miami and we spent the summer together, we got really close. We're good friends.”
On handling criticism, especially via the internet:
“Everyone says Yung Lean is disposable. Like, ‘Yes, finally we can jump on a trend and jump off it next year. Let’s wear some Nikes and dance to Yung Lean, then he’ll be gone, the artist will be dead.’ I’m not a temporary artist. We're not like disposable humans that you can throw in the trash.”
On starting work on a new album, currently in the demo stage, that sounds unlike anything he’s released before:
“I'm gonna release it as Yung Lean. You put out three rap albums, then you can do whatever you like, I think.”