Is 2019 the Year of Bladee?
On January 18th, European rapper, Bladee, dropped the video for his new single titled “Red Velvet” with fellow rapper, Yung Lean. In addition to this release, he also posted on his social media that he will be touring again with his most notable stop being at Austin’s South by Southwest festival.
To many in the states and Europe, “Bladee” is not a household name. If you are familiar with Yung Lean, then you’ve seen his name in features from time to time. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Bladee gained his start in the music industry in 2012 as a SoundCloud artist. Originally, he was a part of the group of artists in the area called the Hasch Boys, which consisted of Yung Lean, Yung Sherman, and many more. Most of the members would eventually branch out to create smaller, concise groups, leading Bladee to create what is now known as “Drain Gang.” Along with his musical prowess, Bladee is known for his visual art and sense of style. This led him to become the creative director for Yung Lean’s clothing line, Sadboys Gear.
As far as his sound goes, it’s not anything that can be described in one word or genre. The foundation of his music is the trap beat that became apparent during the early 2010s era, and still persists to this day. The fast and unusual subdivided high hats, kicks, and sub-bass are very prominent, being the driving force for most of his songs. The synths are another key component to his music, which can only be described as primitive “digital” and this is incorporated into his entire aesthetic. Not quite like synth heard in genres such as chiptunes, but a more simplified version of those sounds. He also utilizes space and ambient noise subtly in the background, making for an airy and atmospheric sound. However, the biggest component to his music is his use of auto-tune. Bladee completely manipulates his voice in every song, making his vocals on every track unlike anything heard in music today. His voice essentially acts as another instrument, creating the main melodic line for all of his songs. On top of this, Bladee changes it up further by making his auto-tuned lines incredibly dissonant, having it go to places you wouldn’t expect.
When discussing Bladee, it is also important to note his overall aesthetic. Bladee is known for his visual graphics and video editing. The easiest way to describe his aesthetic is unnecessary, layered, and easy editing. His album covers are all collages of heavily tampered images with varying unique fonts. Similarly, his music videos carry the same qualities. He makes liberal use of transparent images and fonts that layer on top of videos of him singing, or random imagery. At first glance, the visual overload can look messy and disorienting—but on further inspection, every last detail is created with precision and intention, leaving something to be admired. As for his look, it is reminiscent of early 2000s fashion: metal chain necklace, oversized tees and baggy pants.
Album Icedancer by Bladee
Releasing his album, Icedancer, in the last days of 2018, Bladee is off to a great start in 2019. He has also been slowly gaining traction in the commercial music industry world. Music site Fader has even commented, saying that the track titled “BE NICE TO ME” off of his latest release is one of the “10 Best New Rap Songs Right Now.” Whether or not it was a hacked post or a purposeful nod, he was mentioned by rapper Takeoff on Twitter stating, “ s/o @BladeeCity best artist out right now,” which brought his name into a more public spotlight. His music is honestly not for everybody, and I can admit I wasn’t a fan during my first listen. However, I found myself listening and humming his tunes as the years went on. If you’re looking for something different, it’s well worth giving a shot. I personally believe this will be a strong year for Bladee, and I look forward to what he has in store.