Yung Lean‘s third studio album Stranger is a foray into the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind. It’s a brooding effort that explores his drug addiction and subsequent stay at the hospital. On the surface it’s an admirable effort, but from a lyrical standpoint it isn’t any different than his other pedestrian albums. He touches upon his revelations, but none of them translate into artistic progression. It’s the same rapper with the same story, and when faced with the opportunity to let loose he recedes and hides.

The lack of development is magnified even more by the barren landscape. Yung Gud handles the lion’s share of the production, and doggedly embraces minimalism to the point of exhaustion. The dull, altogether boring beats drag Lean even further into depression, which makes the entire effort feel soggy with tears. Kudos to Lean for seeking help — with a little more refinement he can achieve the potential he’s been trying to live up to. But as of now his art has stalled, weighed down by timidness and redundancy.

Muddy Sea

Yung Sherm brews a mediocre beat for Lean to open up about stardom. It’s a naked landscape full of simple melodies and dry drums, a colorless sound that does little to inspire. Lean drudges along lifelessly like a half-rotten zombie, indifferent to all the glittery happenings going on around him. He’s making it a point to say that the lifestyle doesn’t matter, but following it up with nothing: [LISTEN]

Red Bottom Sky

Another airy beat has the sky opening up, putting Lean in a contemplative mood. He’s looking to liberate himself from past transgressions, and move forward into a new light. Despite his willingness to reform, there’s an emptiness left inside that has him spewing common platitudes. His drug addiction takes center stage, and he’s expressing remorse to his girl who he knows he put through the ringer: [LISTEN]


The beat is pillow soft and painfully weak, as shaky as a cold chihuahua. With a kindergarten sound as his backdrop, Lean gets to flossing acting as if the world he was previously condemning is now new and full of endless possibility. And as predicted he resorts to old rhyme schemes to tell a story that’s already been told. There’s no flavor or bite, and the lack of refinement is crippling: [LISTEN]

Silver Arrows

Touching upon his emotional problems, and how his stay at the hospital provided him with clarity. He’s as motivated now as he’s ever been, looking to increase the size of his bankroll and place his name among the stars. The breakthrough is motivated by greatness and fame, but now that he’s made it he’s tapping old ideas that prove that he’s not any more creative than the next bland rapper: [LISTEN]

Metallic Intuition

Soggy bottom rap that moves in endless circles, a pathetic attempt at lyricism that even a child could duplicate. His monotonous, sterile delivery underscores a sluggish style that is made up almost entirely of internet residue. He’s talking simple game, embracing the idea that mediocrity is acceptable so long as you have the fanbase to support it. A tourist who banks on mimicry: [LISTEN]

Push / Lost Weekend

A two part debacle that etches his name among the jankiest rappers to ever pick up the mic. He’s trying to get his mack on and sounding like a doofus who’s bought into his own hype. The beat is a wash; another pathetic, grey soundscape that is about as inspiring as a blank wall. The deadpan attitude has run its course and he’s reeling, trying to figure out who he’s going to copy next: [LISTEN]

Salute / Pac-Man

Uninspired and geriatric, a feeble effort from a rap peon. To add some energy to his comatose delivery, he’s ensconcing himself in auto-tune believing that it’ll mask his glaring deficiencies. It’s a cheap ploy that’s fooling no one; yet another iteration of tired platitudes. He’s tipping his cap to the game, claiming that women are following him around like Pac-Man. Laughable and altogether dull: [LISTEN]

Drop It / Scooter

The beat is set to school zone speed, and has Lean resorting back to his usual rap standards. He’s bragging about his process, his ability to get in the booth and slay like Freddy Kruger. He is right in the sense that the ensuing product is a nightmare, a blood curdling example of how bad rap can get when unchecked. It’s a carnival and he’s the main attraction, a clown with too big a spotlight: [LISTEN]

Hunting My Own Skin

Cultural appropriation from rap’s biggest leech. He’s balling out of control and celebrating a life of obscene riches and unchecked fame. Drugs are his lubricants, and it’s what’s inspiring him to keep up the charade. The stock beat has the whole effort sounding like a default program made for tutorials. It’s generic and corny, a prosaic effort that makes the whole Sad Boy movement a joke: [LISTEN]


Your standard ode to riches, an iced out song made for all the would-be rap stars of the world. He’s comparing his skillset to the Mikes: Tyson and Jordan. It’s a tired, unmoving analogy that makes him sound like a dope, a redundant series of declarations that display his waning creativity. He’s talking big game, but lacks the lyrical dexterity to match his contemporaries: [LISTEN]

Snakeskin / Bullets

A dark, prophetic interlude that projects a man in distress. It’s abstract but transparent enough to see that he’s trying to make a breakthrough. He’s in a circus, surrounded by snakes and they’re all nipping at his ankles. Confused and afraid he’s making for the door. The beat is spacious and unadorned, which is a standard stomping ground for one of the most forgettable lyricists in the game: [LISTEN]

Fallen Demon

Heavy synth work simulates his fall from grace and subsequent rise to stardom. He’s addicted to the rush and is willing to sell out as many times as he needs to. The vicious cycle is wearing on him, but he doesn’t mind so long as the riches keep pouring in. There is no cost too high for him, which is symptomatic of a talentless chump looking to extend his fifteen minutes of fame: [LISTEN]


Mushy piano licks open up old wounds. He’s musing over the past, and writhing in agony at all the pain. The scars are deep and the sight of them is creating an emotional reaction. The memories are slowly resurfacing and instead of manning up and learning from it, he’s picking at the scab like an infant. It’s thick with melodrama, a noodle-arm sobfest that is more pathetic than inspiring: [LISTEN]


One last cry before he exits stage left. The tears are flowing like a tidal wave, and instead of channeling that energy into something fresh and raw he’s resorting back to old practices; proving that his growth is nothing more than cosmetic. All his musings have reached its breaking point, and with nowhere else to go he mumbles his way across the finish line like the farce that he is: [LISTEN]