From Sky: A Response to Week Twelve’s Response

“[Yung Lean] makes me feel like I’m not in a reality. Like I’m floating in space with all the gravity of Io, like there’s nothing holding me down to this earth except my inclination not to take LSD.”

Recently I’ve been questioning how exactly I critique an album. What characteristics does an album or artist have that appeals to me, that makes me play their music on repeat. Since discovering Yung Lean I’ve been listening to a ton of his work. Unknown Death 2002 is such a ridiculously great mixtape. You’re right when you talk about the production. Yung Gud and the other Sadboy producers are amazing at what they do.

Yung Lean

In your write up, though, you mentioned that, “Lean is not necessarily the strongest wordsmith to me”. Well, I think that’s the point. With lyrics like: “Catch me in a Hummer with your mother and Macy Gray” from “Gatorade”; “Pokemon lotion” from “Emails”; “Optimus Prime / Do her from behind” from “Lightsaber // Saviour”; “I got money like Obama, Internet Explorer” and “Wake up in the morning and I’m married to a dinosaur / Her vagina’s sore” from Oceans 2001, it’s all kind of absurd. Again I think this is the point, and you’re right, Lean knows what he’s doing.

In cloud rap, the lyrics take on a much larger role than one might expect. You’re right, Lean may not be a great lyricist, but that’s the point–he’s not trying to be. Lean is using his words to help aid the picture the music is painting. You bring up LSD in that wonderful quote and so does Lean in a couple of his tracks. The point is that the music is supposed to be trippy. The lyrics help to add to the elevated level of the surreal.

Imagine for a second tripping balls to Yung Lean. The spacey production already has you out there. Add on top of that engaging, captivating beats and deeper into the rabbit hole you go. The cherry on top is Lean’s lyrics. His seemingly random lyrical lexicon places thoughts into your head that further your trip. You might catch the lyric “dinosaur” and have a thought about prehistoric beasts. You might catch “I’m Wario when I’m in Mario Kart” and trail off down Rainbow Road. You might catch “Living life like we in Baltimore” and be transported to the image of the hood that The Wire paints. It’s all about guiding your trip.

Now, not all cloud rap is this way. Lil B is regarded as cloud rap to an extent, with Rain in England is quite clearly his best example. Cloud rap differers from artist to artist. Lean has said that he’s the Based God not being there with him is the reason he’s sad. #sadboys. Lean is one of the best cloud rap artists out there today.

For some further listening, because I don’t think I’ll touch too much on more cloud rap, at least not in the near future:

Viper – “You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack” a pioneer of the cloud rap genre and often regarded as the first cloud rap artist.

Main Attrakionz – “Cloud Body”

Ethel Wulf & Bones – “Bochi Nibuku (Cemetery Blunts) from their ダサい project.

SpaceGhostPurrp – Tha Black God

Isn’t it amazing how much Lil B has inspired? He is responsible for a lot of what this genre has become. He truly is a pioneer. TYBG!


From ‘Cole: A Response to Week Twelve’s Response

I’m sorry if I made you think harder than usual last week. ^^ My question was supposed to lead you in a different direction, but I guess I didn’t state things clearly. My apolohies.

(By the way, if you had wanted to do more literary reading, you’d have been better off going with Transcendentalism and the all-seeing all-knowing eye).

But what I was interested in, aside from the happy vibe, was their use of second person pronoun YOU.

I love how the songs are all about misdirection. Because after all the me, myself, and I he throws out there, in the end our analysis leads us to the fact that DeLa Soul is speaking to us, the listener, directly. In a way that was never done before. If you look at their predecessors, they have all used third or first person, but DeLa has a completely different motive.

It’s not about the eye. It’s about the you.

From Sky: Week Twelve Response

Sometimes I forget about the tag line, if you will, of each week’s track. “Happy”.

I’ll admit it. I went too deep into this one. I listened to it the first few times and had some theories as to what the “eye” refereed to. They were… out there. I did some substantial reading up on Freud that didn’t pan out. I read lyrics. I struggled.

Then it just kinda struck me.

De La Soul

Let’s start with “Me Myself and I”. At first I gave a notion to the idea that “I” was referring to “hip hop” and, to simply, music, in a more general sense. I got to thinking about what exactly their music was like. A few weeks ago De La Soul gave all their music away for free online. One of the albums I copped was De La Soul is Dead. I had also listened to 3 Feet High and Rising recently, so I was up on De La’s sound. I really felt like De La Soul was unique. I look at the albums that came out around ’88-90, with 3 Feet, being released in ’89: Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold us Back, NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Gangsta rap was taking violent and explicit leaps and bounds. But it’s “Happy” week. It’s different. They were going in their own direction. The “I” in “Me Myself and I” refers to just that. Him. Be it Posdnuos or Dove. It’s them. “But when it comes to being De La / It’s just me myself and I”; “When it comes to being Plug One / It’s just me myself and I” “De La Soul is from the soul / And in fact I can’t deny / Strictly from the Dan called Stuckie / And from me myself and I”. They’re so confident in themselves, that they’re really celebrating their uniqueness and, to level, celebrating themselves. That “happy” thing. A big part of being happy is loving you. Celebrating yourself. De La is doing just that. Loving them. Because it’s so damn smooth and chill, you love them too, accept their message as your own and BOOM… happy.

It wasn’t as clear in “Eye Know” to understand the meaning of “eye”. Now, I’m going take a pretty simple approach to the spelling of the “eye” in this one. A while back on reddit I saw someone mention something along the lines of, “why don’t rappers misspell track names anymore?”. Even though it’d come out six years after 3 Feet High and Rising, Big L’s Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous exemplifies this with tracks like “8 Iz Enuff” and “No Endz, No Skinz”. The hook in “Eye Know” comes from Steely Dan’s “Peg” and is “I know I’ll love you better”. Now, “Eye Know” is definitely an ode to hip hop. This is mixed in with a message of love for a woman. Not as clear cut and constant as Tupac’s “Me and My Girlfriend”, though. The “eye” or “I” (I’m sticking with a misspelling theory) in this case is referring to him, again, the rappers, Dove and Posdnuos, but also referring to the music. “But clear your court cause this is a one-man sport / And who’s better for this than Plug One”–it’s braggadocio and so lovingly sincere. It’s pretty damn unique. “When I put the needle into your groove”–again, pretty solid wordplay. “I know I’ll love better” is referring to his love for the girl as well as his love for hip hop. It’s like being the biggest number one all-time fan of something. It’s devotion and love all wrapped up in one.

Personally, I don’t like when rappers spell things incorrectly, but I understand and embrace the phonetic spellings of things.

Once I got it, understood the meaning of the ‘I’s, I think I was finally able to see the joy and happiness in it. They truly are happy, joyful, and to a level, love songs. Again, it’s the idea of celebrating uniqueness and loving ourselves. It’s so flowery you’ll even find them on the cover.

From ‘Cole: Week Twelve Response

“[Magical Realism is] what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.”
-Prf. Matthew Strecher

“Bitch I’m Murakami.”
-Yung Lean, “Hurt”

Did you know Lean was on Hip Hop Heads a while back?
He recommended three songs from his discography, so I listened to those too. ^^

Man. I feel like this kid knows what he’s doing.

Yung Lean

In a bout of what I can only call coincidence you chose these tracks right while I was in the midst of 1Q84, which makes me feel sort of like I’m in a work of fiction. But there is such a thing as the right place at the right time.

Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84”

First, “Gatorade.” That beat is unreal. I see why he got so much recognition for it, and I give props to Yung Gud. Lean is not necessarily the strongest wordsmith to me–shots fired. But his phrasing and his tone are where the interest lies. Cloud Rap, I feel, has an awesomely poetic name–because everything about it is nebulous.

He makes me feel like I’m not in a reality. Like I’m floating in space with all the gravity of Io, like there’s nothing holding me down to this earth except my inclination not to take LSD. It’s for this reason that I say he knows what he’s doing when he says he’s Murakami.

I think Cloud Rap achieves the same thing as Magical Realism in that there’s nothing to hold us down to reality when the unbelievable happens. I think there’s also that longing and search for identity present when this sadboy puts in visuals where he’s surrounded by Japanese characters that he undeniably does not understand (there was some hangul in there, did you catch it?)

“Hurt” and “Kyoto” are a great pairing because it is this fascination with identity and the nebulousness of life that invariably very Eastern feeling. Lean is pretty into Japanese culture (he totally seems like an otaku). I mean where else have you seen a rap with Charmeleon in it? And his obsession with Pokemon all but points to the adoption of Japanese culture into the mainstream (did you know Pokemon is the second most successful game media based franchise in the world? Second only to Mario. Now that’s some global movement).

Lean Doer

Hip Hop is always about the real, the what’s-realer-than-real. But Lean is going for the kill. There is no real. Everyone’s reality exists in the mind. Everything is concrete and in a state of suspension, nothing is concrete and the more we try and depict how bizarre and amorphous this life is, the more real it gets. So in a way, Lean is the realest.

This pick was grrrrrreat.

From Sky: Week Twelve – I’ve talked about him enough, it’s about time week

I’ve mentioned this guy numerous times. I’ve been really big into cloud rap recently and this guy is the perfect example of cloud rap. Here’s a great definition:

Watch these videos:

My favorite track of his:

Watch this get a little understanding of his personality:

And his newest shit, what he’s become:

My question to you is this: What is the significance of his lyrics and his lyrical style? I realize it’s kind of a vague question, but I think you’ll have some interesting ideas about it.