Yung Lean is a cryptic soul. Since 2013, the 21-year-old Swedish rapper has gone from blogosphere sensation to thinkpiece fodder to eventually a patient in a mental hospital. From inception, the Yung Lean brand seemed destined to position Jonatan Leandoer Håstad as a pariah. Hip-hop is still dealing with conversations surrounding white U.S. rappers and the line between appreciation and appropriation. Being a sad kid from Sweden singing about Arizona ice tea and anime is a level of weirdness that is embraced by the cult fringes but doesn’t endear one to the wider rap world.
“I met Fredo Santana three days before he passed,” said Lean. “We were in the studio in Los Angeles actually listening to Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and he’s a great human being. He’s a super nice guy. We recorded a song, then he fell asleep when he was going to record his part. It was a great meeting and I’m blessed to have met Fredo before he passed.”
Later in the interview, the Swedish rapper described what it was like collaborating with Frank Ocean when he was still a teenager.
“Frank Ocean called me when I was in Stockholm when I was like 17. I was buying drugs on a subway station and Frank Ocean called me and I was very very surprised. He was like, ‘Hello Yung Lean, do you know who this is?’ Like, ‘No, who is this?’ ‘Frank Ocean, I would love to have you come over to London and record with me.'”
“We had dinner. We had Indian spicy dinner and watched The Dictator — me, Mike Dean, and Frank Ocean,” he said. “I was drinking lean and smoking weed, recording. I was singing on this part with me and Kid Cudi, and Frank was telling me to like, ’cause I had like this super raspy voice and was, like, was drinking lean, and he’s like, ‘Yes, keep on singing like that Jonathan, Lean. That’s perfect. That’s perfect.'”