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Yung Lean and his Sad Boys movement have evolved far beyond their YouTube and blog beginnings. Several million views later, Yung Lean now identifies more with a slicker, more “punk”-influenced style and has matured beyond his initial lo-fi, Arizona-and-lean aesthetic. As far as the his other Sad cohorts are concerned, they, too, have evolved. Case in point: one of the original architects of Sad Boys’ melancholic barrage, producer Gud (or, Yung Gud as we used to know him.)
The beatsmith behind some of Yung Lean’s biggest records and breakout tracks, Gud is just as responsible for the Sad Boys’ influence on modern rap as the rapper at its forefront. He is the individual responsible for the codeine-coated, sullen sonics and melodies that propelled Yung Lean’s deadpan vocals. For the second installment of our HYPETRAK Lab series, we linked up with Gud to discuss some of his biggest songs, his influences, the producers he vibes with the most and more.
How did rap production originally come into your life?
It came from listening to Lil Wayne and Paul Wall and sh*t like that when I was around 13, 14. It just came from starting to listen to hip-hop, wearing BAPE and all that — that was how it came into my life.
What was the age when you got technical with it?
Pretty much right away, it started when I was like 12. I was pretty serious right off the bat, it was pretty immediate. I would say around 2005/2006, but I didn’t start really making beats until much later.
As far as finding your own sound and that whole Sad Boys sound, how did that come about?
At the time, I was just looking for a way to incorporate my influences — down-south hip-hop like Atlanta, Houston, Memphis — with the calculated way of making music that I knew before. I guess this whole Sad Boys thing was a calculated venture of merging production techniques with things that were very “vibe-ish.”
Nowadays, does the same sort of southern rap sound influence you? Does the new Atlanta scene influence your sound?
Yeah. I feel like the Atlanta scene is the starting point for any new sound in hip-hop or any new direction, so that’s always going to be a very strong influence for sure. I guess with influences you spread them out more , because you know what music you want to make, and you become more set on what you want to pick from different genres. I would say it [Atlanta rap] has a steady hold on us and the music we make.
Any specific producers you hear now and think it’s something next-level?
I’m listening to a lot of Allen Ritter beats, Vinylz, Frank Dukes, Metro Boomin, TM88 — all those guys I think are pushing the envelope of what you can use in rap music in general and bring to the table. Those guys definitely are the future.
Are you still motivated to produce rap like that or do you want to expand as time goes on?
I feel like rap and R&B are the most exciting places to be. I’m actually trying to find my place within rap and R&B and see what I can give to that and not spread out and do too much. I’m always trying to draw inspiration from other places, but with taste of course. Anyone can be influenced by anything, so I don’t feel like that’s [branching out] a very important thing. You should really try to make one or two styles, get really good at those and try to connect with those. It has more meaning.
Explain the story behind “Ginseng Strip 2002″ and “Yoshi City.”
“Ginseng Strip 2002″: I received some weird, open source stuff from this Japanese dude and he sent me this huge pack of random samples that he had. I don’t know why he did, but it was like some Japanese electrician who made these things. “Ginseng Strip” was on there, and I just put some drums — super easy, like 5-10 minute thing — and the chorus for it was just some sound check. It was just Lean testing the microphone. He dropped some quick bars on it, and he put it out.
For “Yoshi City,” it was just us in some shitty studio in the center of the city. I just wanted to make something Kid Cudi-esque, something melodic. That was like our first time we really made a “real song” with the intention of making a “real song.” “Kyoto” and those tracks were basically freestyles. It was like the first time we actually sat down and talked about direction of the song, so it was like the first “proper production” from my side at least.
When you look back to those songs, do you find them to be some of your best releases or is your best work is still in the future?
Definitely in the future. As an artist, it’s always going to be “some shit you have in your head.” The shit you put out is never going to be what’s good as what’s in your head. But, what we have put out, it’s really inspiring because we have made it and it’s all weird and something we like to do. I really look at those releases with a lot of love and feel they made me go into the direction I’m going in now.
In the future, what’s ahead for you and what can we expect?
I’m still putting together an EP that’s been in the works for the last two years. I’m insanely touching up and breaking down tracks on that. I’m going to be releasing new music of course, more music with friends and family. Hopefully I’ll link up with other good, cool musicians and hook up with them for more beats. As for now and the recent future, it’s about the EP. I’m not really bothered with specific collaborations, so I don’t have any of that that I want to do. But, I am happy to if I like the person.
Check out Gud’s latest release, “Body Horror” here.