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Bladee pushes the boundaries of pop, trap and everything between

Swedish musician Bladee is getting more attention thanks to his viral hits on TikTok.
Swedish musician Bladee is getting more attention thanks to his viral hits on TikTok.

After nearly a decade in the underground hip-hop scene, Swedish rapper, singer, artist and designer Bladee and his groundbreaking sound are reaching the mass consciousness of music fans with the help of social media.

Active since the early 2010s, Bladee has maintained a small but loyal following.

Despite a long career, Bladee (pronounced blade) is only now receiving more attention after his songs went viral on TikTok. 

The rise of hyperpop on TikTok has seen an influx of new fans. Though a vast majority of Bladee's music doesn’t really fit the mold of the genre, Bladee has been heavily associated with it on the platform.

Most notably Bladee's songs “Be Nice 2 Me” and “Hotel Breakfast” have blown up on TikTok, leading them to be Bladee's two most streamed songs on Spotify to date.

Bladee’s early career was characterized by collaborations with established musician Yung Lean, who himself has collaborated with household names like Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and Playboi Carti.

Around the same time, Bladee established Drain Gang, a band with friends and fellow artists Ecco2k and Thaiboy Digital, as well as producer Whitearmor. Originally going under the name Gravity Boys, the group went through numerous name changes.

I can’t claim to have been a fan from the beginning, having only discovered Bladee in 2019.

I was originally a passionate denouncer of Bladee's music.

Yet very quickly, Bladee went from an artist I despised to my absolute favorite. That quality defines Bladee as an artist. 

The story of discovery to hatred to adoration is common within his  fanbase. I’ve seen it multiple times within online communities.

Bladee’s music is ever-evolving and difficult to define. To tie it down by genre is a disservice to his  creativity.

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Bladee has a large discography consisting of five studio albums, three mixtapes, five collaborative tapes and five EPs. Every project has its own unique sound, from “Gluee” to “The Fool.”

The most recognizable aspect of Bladee’s music —and the primary reason for Bladee's controversy — is Bladee's very heavy use of autotune. It’s why I disliked him at first.

I'm ashamed to admit that at the time I had a heavy bias toward lyrical rap music, and this was the opposite.

Bladee’s earliest music relies on autotune the heaviest, containing dark themes centered around substances and parties. The production, primarily done by Whitearmor, is entrancing and atmospheric in a truly beautiful way.

The writing on “Eversince” is heart wrenching and emotional, “Gluee’s” production and vocal effects are revolutionary and “Working on Dying” is full of bangers. “Red Light” is a blend of atmosphere and energetic beats, full of emotion, and “Icedancer” is colder and more trap based.

Bladee's music pre-2020 feels cold, dark, and cloudy. Post-2020, Bladee has added a newer, brighter dimension to his sound.

“Exeter,” his first 2020 project, is bouncy, bubbly and magical, “333,” the follow-up, is beautiful, emotional, and extends those newer sounds from “Exeter,” and “Good Luck” delves even deeper into pop and the newer hyperpop subgenre.

Bladee’s most recent project, 2021’s “The Fool,” is a culmination of Bladee's older more trap-influenced music, and his newer, brighter pop-influenced style.

The album comes together seamlessly, giving us one of Bladee’s best efforts to date.

“Hotel Breakfast,” the most popular song from “The Fool,” exemplifies his growth as an artist and the new-found virality of his music on TikTok and social media. 

The recent growth in Bladee's fan base is all the more reason people should give him a try, even if he may never become a mainstream artist.

mezacuem@miamioh.edu

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