Cloud rap is still an underground movement in the wider genre, but it’s appropriately hovering over the mainstream in its peripheral vision, grabbing attention of many young and up-and-coming rap listeners hoping to be swept in its narcotic beats and shrouded vocal effects. Swedish rapper Yung Lean, at just 21-years-old, is already a connoisseur of the craft, exploding on the scene when he was a teenager with sleeper hits “Kyoto” and “Ginseng Strip 2002,” raking up fans left and right, all who were likely in attendance at the Fonda Theatre Friday night, reveling in the guy’s moody raps and chanting in a sea of next-generation rave-makers.

Photos by David Fisch

Yung Lean performed in support of his latest full-length release, 2017’s Stranger, which makes the bold attempt at becoming the genre’s “concept” album. He appeared on a mostly empty stage, with just he and the mic dominating even as he barely appeared in the hazy and dark lighting. His face donning clown-like makeup and wearing all black, the audience ate all of it up.

His set was fairly straightforward, performing twenty-plus tracks for what seemed like forever given his music’s penchant to swallow you in its bass and encapsulate you in its hallucinatory mood. His DJs and touring rapper Thaiboy Digital, known as the Sad Boys, supported his performance as mostly background, allowing Yung Lean to enact his fairly new-found stardom on the masses of the venue’s floor.

Yung Lean hooks you in to his world and you have a tendency to stay there, which is why the crowd was eager to not be forced out by security to leave the venue when the show ended. Though he relishes in a subgenre that isn’t looking for big-time antics, Yung Lean makes the case that maybe you should take the deep dive into the thickness, and both myself and his devotees in attendance at the Fonda can get behind that artistic statement.

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