WHO ARE YOU…? 18-year-old Swedish rapper Yung Lean
He is quite a man. We caught up with rising star of the Swedish rap scene Jonatan Leandoer Håstad, a.k.a. Yung Lean, just before he went on stage with his group the Sadboys at the Machine du Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Who is Yung Lean?
Yung Lean: First and foremost, an artist. Not a rapper, a singer, or whatever. An artist.
How is the tour going so far?
Well. Tonight is the last night. I don’t feel too tired. I managed to sleep on the train. Yesterday was great. We were in London. Of all the places we have visited on our tour so far, that was where people knew us the best. Some of the crowd joined us on stage for the closing track. It was incredible.
What are your main sources of musical inspiration?
To begin with it was 50 Cent, but he’s not been doing much good stuff lately. At the moment, I get a lot of inspiration from Beyoncé. I love all the energy she puts into it.
Have you been influenced by Swedish artists too?
Yes, by Monica Zetterlund, Goram Hagglund (a Swedish politician, Ed.), and the group The Shitlickers.
You said in an interview that you were fascinated by the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 because they were “emotional’. What is an emotional year for you?
A year when lots of things happen. I don’t actually have a lot of memories of that time. But the last few years have been emotional too.
Who was the biggest actor of that period, in your view?
Bruce Willis, without hesitation.
And a video game?
Do you miss that period? What is your reaction to the hyper-connected era that we live in now?
I am not super connected to the world of today. I haven’t got a mobile phone and I have no plans to buy one, and that’s just fine.
Where are you up to with your education?
I’ve stopped studying and I have no intention of starting again. Music is my thing.
Nearly two years ago, you said that Swedish rap was crap, apart from the Gravity Boys. What about now?
I haven’t changed my mind. But I would like to inspire a generation of young artists.
If you were to do a track featuring a US rapper, who would you choose?
Rick Ross. He knows me and everything.
What inspires you? Drugs? Arizona?
Who knows? That’s the mystery of it.
Your tracks include Yoshi City and Kyoto. Can you explain your fascination with Japan?
I’ve never been there, and I haven’t made plans to go there yet. But I’m sure I would get a nice welcome.
What would you be doing without rap?
I would still be working at McDonald’s, like before. It sucked, by the way.
Have you always sung in English?
No, before I sang in Swedish. Now I prefer to sing in English. It’s a better language for rapping.
How did that happen?
One morning, I woke up and I spoke English. That’s how it happened.
Have you got any new interests? What have you been drawn to recently?
I live in the present, that’s all. We’ll see what inspires me.
Do you still feel like making music about Gatorade?
Travelling, meeting new people, visiting new places… does that inspire you?
I don’t know. I don’t like that lifestyle… going from one town to another is tiring and painful. I don’t want to live like that in the future… it’s not the way I want to make music.
Your songs are often tinged with melancholy. Are you happy?
Yes. Well, at the moment, not so much, because I’m doing an interview. But in a few minutes, I’ll probably feel better.
You don’t like the media?
No. They all want a piece of you. I don’t like reading things about myself. I don’t see why I should read what I’ve just said.
Are you interested in other arts, apart from music?
Yes, I like films. I tried acting in one once, but it didn’t work out. But in the future, why not?
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve got a new salsa mixtape coming up, with a Spanish producer. I can’t tell you his name yet. You wouldn’t believe it.