On July 9, 2019, Sweden’s own Drain Gang CEO’s Bladee will celebrate the 5-year anniversary of his debut tape GLUEE. And I’ll be honest - right off the bat, I wasn't a fan. The main reason why I gave it a listen was back in early 2014, I got into Yung Lean and one of the highlights of Lean’s first project Unknown Death 2002 were the Bladee features. Now, I can honestly say I’m at least open to GLUEE - there’s something absolutely hypnotizing about the opening track 'Delete (intro)' and, for some reason, it just took me a long time to really get it (and Bladee as a whole).

It would take me until 2016 for things to really start to click, but ever since, I’ve been a massive fan of his. I honestly believe his debut album Eversince - sonically and production-wise - deserves to be considered one of the best albums of the decade. What Whitearmor (a producer from Sweden who has worked countlessly with the artist) and Bladee did on the record is amazing. The atmospheric, cloudy sound, the production, how the autotune just cuts through and the existential feeling throughout the whole project, is an incredible experience and for a lot of Bladee fans, it ranks highly in his now ever-growing discography.

When it comes to why I didn’t quite like him during the GLUEE era, the finger could be pointed towards the autotune, which managed to drown out his vocals. But in the years since its release, he’s developed some vocal clarity, which has certainly brought him a lot of positive attention. With projects such as AVP (the collaborative project with Thaiboy Digital), the D&G Compilation (D&G standing for "Drain Gang" - the collective of Bladee, Ecco2k, Thaiboy Digital, Whitearmor and Yung Sherman), Working on Dying (the collaborative tape with Philadelphia’s own collective Working on Dying), and his sophomore album Red Light, I could feel him growing stronger and stronger. And that’s not even including all of the loosies, features and EPs he’s dropped in between, because if Bladee is one thing, he’s certainly a workaholic.

In a complete and utter surprise, on December 29, 2018 Bladee released a 19-track mixtape called ICEDANCER via Soundcloud. The project featured the already released track, 'Frosty the Snowman', as well as features from Yung Lean, Thaiboy Digital and Cartier’ God. It’s now just a little over 3 weeks since the release and the project as a whole has already garnered over 1 million plays on Soundcloud. Hell, even Spotify has got in on the action - offering up a This is Bladee playlist. Fan favourite 'Be Nice 2 Me' is seeing the biggest headway with over 175,000 plays on Spotify and 200,000 plays on Soundcloud. Given the amount of time since its release, that’s remarkable.

Often, when people think of Bladee, they think of Yung Lean, but in reality, Bladee was always his own separate person and artist. He sells out shows on his own and has his own collective. What people should be saying is how truly special it is that Yung Lean has continued to grow over the years and build up Sad Boys, and how Bladee has been growing himself with Drain Gang. Bladee is finally having his moment and saying it’s well deserved would be one hell of an understatement. 2019 might just be the year of Bladee.