Yung Lean
Frost God


3.5
great

Review

by davidwave4 USER (54 Reviews)
December 17th, 2016 | 35 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wait, what?

I have a long and complicated history with Yung Lean's music. I’ve reviewed both Warlord and Unknown Memory, and can say I had a not-great time reviewing both. While Warlord boasted some excellent production and, at times, some genuinely catchy choruses and interesting lyrical moments (note the distinction between “moments” of goodness and worthwhile or good songs), Unknown Memory is, to me at least, one of the worst things ever committed to wax (or memory). Even so, neither of them stuck with me for more than a week or two, and neither had the kind of standout that endears it to year-end listmakers or anyone outside a small internet-based niche. So I approached Frost God with heaps of trepidation. The single “Hennessy and Sailor Moon” ended up surprising me a bit. On paper, it seems like the worst kind of dirge. Lean has never been the moody troubadour that someone like Corbin (FKA Spooky Black) is, and his efforts at heartfelt balladry rank among his grandest and most spectacular failures (“Leanworld” is the kind of self-important, boring mess that would make some quit altogether). But “Hennessy” was different. The production was effortless and ethereal as ever, but Lean actually turns in a passable performance as a lover, and Lean’s mantric vocal intonation is simplistic in a good way. It actually works, and got me mildly excited for this project. And “Hennessy” is no red herring: Frost God is undoubtedly Lean’s strongest release.

Frost God improves markedly on almost all the redeeming qualities that Lean has demonstrated throughout his career. The lyrics, while not even close to the output of more lyrical rappers (or even other mumble rappers), are coherent and workable. In some places, Lean details personal experiences that are infinitely more compelling than his usual subject matter. On “Hennessy,” he talks about how the hope of seeing a girl again kept his spirits up when he was in the hospital (for those who don’t know, Lean was in a pretty bad accident after overdosing on, you guessed it, lean). “When I was in the hospital I saw you/I know what you're feeling inside cause I feel you” is perhaps the sweetest, most authentically emotional line in Lean’s oeuvre. The other lyrics in the song are simplistic but effective, and do nothing to ruin the song's sentiment.

Elsewhere, Lean’s renewed vigor imbues some of his more stereotypically bland lines with a needed bravado that sells them. The one-two punch of “Back at It” and “Hop Out” is aided by a vigorous and energetic delivery from Lean. A line like “I serve your mommy and daddy cause I'm the ***” is given the smirking delivery that it deserves for being so hilarious, and that self-awareness is a welcome light through the frozen wilderness that is Lean’s world. The guest features range from unnoticeable to genuinely surprising and pretty good. Adamn Killa's verse is delivered in such a way as it's virtually indistinguishable from Lean, making his appearance perfunctory at best. Same with bladee on “Hennessy and Sailor Moon.” Bladee's other output has been pretty good, if not great, and it's sad to see him so underutilized. If it hadn’t been for the video, I’d have never know two people were on the song. However, not all the features are underutilized or subdued. A$AP Ferg surprisingly shows up and delivers a damn good performance on "Crystal City."

But focusing on lyrics is, ostensibly, not the point here. The real focus should be on the atmosphere, the raw emotions that Lean has been billed as projecting. At least production-wise, this project is par for the course for a Lean project. All the usual suspects show up and do good work (Yung Gud, White Armor, et al), and Lean doesn’t necessarily *** on any one of them. Special recognition is due for newcomers Acea and Shlohmo (!!!!), who produce the album’s most effective songs (Acea with “Crystal City” and “Hennessy,” and Shlohmo with “Hop Out”).

It’s worth noting however that Lean's tendency to rely on the production to carry him is still present on some of the tracks here. “Kirby” with its lurching, sliding 808s and Southern trap horns, has an instrumental suited to someone more charismatic like Gucci Mane or Lil Uzi Vert. Lean slurring his way through is an injustice! “Cashin,” with its midtempo production, slurred delivery, and lovelorn lyrics ("she called me up and called me on the phone/she fucked me over once, someone that I know") plays like a poor retread of “Hennessy,” but without the infectious chorus or the energy. “Get it Back” to its credit, works, but just barely: Lean does actually sound like he’s putting in effort, and the buoyant production is jovial enough to make lines like “diamonds on my wrist, give me an ice attack” seem as playful and comic as they’re (hopefully) meant to be.

But those duds can be forgiven, not least of all because they’re nowhere near as bad as they could be. As a whole, Frost God is the Lean project that I’ve been waiting for since Unknown Death 2002 and “Kyoto” dropped in the summers of my youth. It’s chilly and well-produced, and Lean comes to the mic sounding awake for once. He sounds like someone worth listening to and investing time in. His lyrics, for once, possess some semblance of coherence. His excursions into ballad territory don’t make me want to wander into the frozen tundra and starve to death. By all metrics, this project is a success. I can only hope to God that subsequent Lean projects show Lean improving and developing the skills he’s shown here.



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user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
davidwave4
December 16th 2016


91 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

😞

hal1ax
December 16th 2016


9209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

awful review

hal1ax
December 16th 2016


9209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Unknown Memory is one of the worst things ever committed to wax (or memory)."



lol.

hal1ax
December 16th 2016


9209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and i also don't get the cashin / hennessy comparison at all. like the only similarity between the two is that they're both relatively down-tempo..

hal1ax
December 16th 2016


9209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lolzz.. damn i kinda feel bad.

david baby u gotta listen much more thoroughly and attentively to albums before writing future pieces on their behalf

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
December 16th 2016


8453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gotta say, a lot of this review reads like you either weren't interested or you're just readily admitting to hating Lean. i don't think that the latter is a problem, but you don't really pull it off with enough style for it not to appear like you're just ranting about 'Leandoers.'



sach mentioned it earlier, but when you mention not knowing / having heard of Adamn Killa, you're already selling your own opinion short. you seem to dwell on a lot of your own negative opinions and you never really have an interesting way of turning around from them, and in some circumstances- like the out of nowhere dig at Lil Uzi Vert- it just seem so unnecessary.



you're improving from your earlier reviews quite noticeably, but i still think that you could benefit from hitting the proofreading thread every now and again just to pick up on shortcomings and some basic stuff.

Digging: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland

PumpBoffBag
December 17th 2016


882 Comments


Only song I know by this guy is Hoover, which is admittedly dope af. May check this at some point.

Yeah, review needs some work also.

davidwave4
December 23rd 2016


91 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Changelog:

- edited to make it seem less like I want to fight yung lean

- fixed some grammatical errors

- apologized to Lil Uzi Vert (https://twitter.com/davidwave4/status/812368840818618368)

- spent a week listening to Adamn Killa and Bladee, fixed the sentence re: them

- took out mentions of leandoers b/c they need counseling and help for their addiction, not to be made fun of

- clarified the hennessy/cashin comparison (because goddamnit they're similar!)

- also, I love you all



FourthReich
December 25th 2016


2238 Comments


I STAY UP TILL DAWN BARBED WIRE ON MY ARMS

Digging: BIG BABY GANDHI -

FourthReich
January 10th 2017


2238 Comments


I love how she dance and got me feenin for you

FourthReich
January 10th 2017


2238 Comments


LEANDOER THE GOD


WE'VE BEEN GOIN HARD

L4titudes
January 10th 2017


3447 Comments


lol

danrawkz
January 23rd 2017


354 Comments


Head2Toe is where it's at. One of the best bladee cameos

FourthReich
May 10th 2017


2238 Comments


SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO ASK WHATEVER SHE WANTS

Toad
May 10th 2017


1397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Such a great track

Digging: The Goslings - Grandeur of Hair

Toad
May 10th 2017


1397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

God this review sucks

Imma have to write my own

FourthReich
May 10th 2017


2238 Comments


WHEN I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL I SAW YOU

:'(

TVC15
October 19th 2017


8815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wow Toad you didn't even review it

Digging: Black Magick SS - Kaleidoscope Dreams

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
November 13th 2017


19702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

jammin now

hal1ax
November 13th 2017


9209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pretty dece



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