Yung Lean is Proud He's Turned Into More Than a "Viral Hit"

The grind never ends for artists who want to be known for more than just their first viral hit.
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There's nothing wrong with authoring a viral hit record, but for many artists, despite the success that will typically follow—increased radio spins, on-demand streams, digital sales and licensing opportunities—the association carries with it a label that closely resembles that of "one-hit wonder."

In 2013, 21-year-old Stockholm rapper Yung Lean first dashed across our radar with semi-viral hits "Ginseng Strip 2002" and "Kyoto," the latter having racked up nearly 30 million plays on YouTube over the past four years, but, according to the artist himself, the achievement of becoming a viral sensation was never good enough.

“I guess I’m just proud that I kept on working, not becoming just a viral hit,” Lean toldDazed.

Lean's rise to internet fame was the direct result of making rap music. However, it now appears he's just as comfortable distancing himself from the "viral hit" label as he is from hip-hop as a genre. “I’m still an outsider in the hip-hop community," he said. "I don’t even know if I’m making hip-hop anymore.”

Like Lean, Desiigner will likely never be able to recreate the success of "Panda"; OG Maco, if given the chance, has zero interest in recreating the success of "U Guessed It"; and Fetty Wap—who on the low has manufactured a catalog of material that has earned him eight Platinum and two Gold certifications by the RIAA—would be hard-pressed to create a record as triumphant as "Trap Queen," but all of them have worked tirelessly since their respective hits went viral, never resting on their laurels and working to prove they're more than "moment" artists.

On Friday, Lean will take another step toward longevity with the release of his latest studio album, Stranger, the first since last year's Warlord and his third in total since 2014.

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