Meet Yung Lean, the Swedish Teen Who’s This Month’s Weirdest Thing on the Internet
In the video for Yung Lean’s “Ginseng Strip 2002,” the 16-year-old rapper from the Södermalm district of Stockholm dons a bucket hat, does a version of the cooking dance and talks about about getting dome from a crackhead who looks like Zooey Deschanel. Born Jonatan Leandoer Håstad, he’s a beguiling mishmash of American hip-hop’s more peculiar, Lil B-indebted elements, and he raises a lot of questions. Mainly, who the fuck is this kid? And why is he like this? Lean’s head-scratching online presence includes a track called “OREOMILKSHAKE” about enjoying a delicious shake and sticking his member in a glory hole. He flexes about a constant Super Mario habit on “5th Element” and in one photo flashes a gallon jug of Arizona Iced Tea while wearing a do-rag, which strikes me as something that would be tough to find in Scandinavia. When I Skype with Lean, he’s guzzling foreign Pepsi and polishing off a bag of chips while producer Yung Sherman of their Sad Boys crew plays Super Smash Bros 64, and it becomes apparent that these kids are not, in fact, trolling. Aside from the awkward pauses in conversation when they consult each other in Swedish, they seem no different than restless American teenagers as they wave Lil Ugly Mane records in my face and are genuinely awed when I tell them I recently caught a Project Pat show. In our nation’s weirdest rappers they’ve found a culture that speaks to them, and like teenagers do, they’re emulating their idols. The resulting tracks are uncanny, habit-forming and inexplicably brilliant.
You used to be Yung Lean Doer, now you’re just Yung Lean. Where did your name come from?
Leandoer, that’s my name. I just thought it was funny, like sippin’ lean, promethazine. Shouts out to Yung Sherman for the name. We had this rap collective before, and when I joined he was like, Little Lean Doer is in the clique.
How did you all meet?
Me and Yung Sherman met at a park. There were a lot of people drinking beer in that park. We were listening to like Robb Bank$ and just started connecting. Then Yung Gud Shorty—the third member of Sad Boys—was friends with Yung Sherman before, so I met Yung Gud Shorty through him.
I heard that you’ve been been singing and rapping since you were a little kid. What did that stuff sound like?
It sounded horrible. At my summer house we made a mixtape with horrible beats, rapping about Eminem and football. When I was in fourth grade I made a song about the part in Stockholm where we come from.
What’s it like there?
It’s a lot of hipsters, definitely. It’s very cold. It’s just a very normal neighborhood.