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Photo: Guz Reichwald
Photo: Guz Reichwald

Yung Lean and Bladee’s Latest Collab is the Drain Gang Entry Point You’ve Been Waiting For

Psykos is the first full-length collab from the cloud rap innovators, swapping hyperpop for guitars, strings, and a touch of grunge — sad boy style.

by Tyson Lennox

Devoted fans of alt-rappers Bladee and Yung Lean are by now accustomed to the sudden and sometimes shocking evolutionary shifts in sound and tone that come with each unannounced new project. Bladee is well known for his transformative  aesthetic, while Yung Lean’s more indie and experimental output under the name Jonathan Leandoer96 has cemented his wide range of musical influences and potential forms. Frequent collaborators for over a decade, they have stayed ahead of their fans, their contemporaries and seemingly themselves.

Psykos is the first full length collaborative album between these Swedish wavemakers, and as expected, it arrived without a lead single or any official promotion. More surprising than the album’s sudden appearance or the adorable frog that adorns the cover art is the shift away from hyperpop and IDM-based beats to swells of strings, layers of shoegaze and dream pop-inspired guitars. This is more of a post-punk album than anything that could be considered rap, though both artists still bring their unmistakable flows and styles to each song to produce a sound that’s wholly unique and impossible to emulate. Psykos is both an album only Yung Lean & Bladee could make and something you might never expect either of them to create.

For those that have never been able to enjoy the output of these artists or understand their influence, Psykos makes the perfect entry point. These songs are considered and fully realized ballads drawing inspiration from familiar alternative rock touchstones and lyrical themes about addiction, depression, death and of course lost love. Standout tracks “Golden God,” “Sold Out” and the heartbreaking closer “Things Happen” allow both artists to flex their lyrical prowess with neither resting on the easy meme-worthy one liners they are sometimes both guilty of.