Youngn Lipz - Area Baby (Review)
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
The arrival of Youngn Lipz’s debut album, ‘Area Baby’, comes following a few years of impressive growth from the Western Sydney based artist who has remained unwavering in releasing what is truly a quintessential project. Youngn Lipz’s beginnings can be traced back to Soundcloud release ‘Sacrifice’ in 2018 where he donned the name Jr Lipo, a tag he kept as he provided a feature on Western Sydney duo Pistol Pete & Enzo's track ‘Mama’. From there, as YL’s repertoire grew he donned the now infamous Youngn Lipz name, with an outstanding “YL” artist tag to boot.
With a number of singles released between his iconic beginnings with 2019’s ‘Misunderstood’ to now, Lipz has continually demonstrated an intense ambition to evolve and to reach the top in order to represent his area and the talent that resides there. Within ‘Area Baby’, Lipz balances the two worlds of his challenging upbringing and his well-earnt success with immense sophistication. The whole album remains captivating all the way through, whilst taking listeners deeper than ever before through the highs and lows of Youngn Lipz’s life up until this point.
What a triumphant start to the album. The titular ‘Area Baby’ kicks off proceedings with a smooth flowing, melodic track aimed at showing love for the areas Youngn Lipz grew up in; namely Cabramatta, Liverpool and Miller. From the first lines you see the dilemma in Youngn Lipz’s world; “I’m an area baby I was made for this; I’m not in love but I got love for the streets”. There is an attachment to the world that shaped him and a comfort in it, but in order to truly represent his area he accepts a need to push beyond what he knows – a theme present throughout the album. Lipz raps about having to earn what he works for, with nothing given out for free, yet despite his hardships his love for where he’s come from has never faltered. Further enhancing this song is the quality of the hook, which definitely elevated the track to another level due to its free-flowing nature.
‘Visions’ is an inspirational track which speaks to persevering through the struggle for greener pastures. Lipz highlights the importance of maintaining one’s grind, even when the tides start to turn in your favour to ensure the results keep coming. What makes this track even better is how infectiously catchy it is. The hook has you instantly reeled in and by the end of the song, you know every lyric off by heart. Will Roman joins Sheph, Lipz and Lowkee on production and the team employ subtle keys and a rattling trap beat to allow Lipz to deliver his echoey vocals and powerful lyricism.
On ‘Silent’, Lipz and producer Open Til L8’s use of a low, brooding bass draws you in alongside subtle plucks of the acoustic guitar, followed by Lipz bellowing out his distinctive artist tag. Lipz’s melodic flow is a real winning component on ‘Silent’. It’s outstanding and drifts through the track with ease, ensuring an immensely enjoyable listening experience. Lipz raps about the grind and working to make it in the music scene whilst learning how to separate the people who are real and fake, all whilst trying to support his family. It’s clear to see loyalty is a massive motivator in not only this song, but in the Western Sydney artist’s life.
On ‘Falcons’ we see a more vulnerable side to YL as we traverse his journey from essentially being lost to found. We hear how music has been his ultimate saviour, allowing him to mature from his mistakes and to become the man he is today. The ‘falcon’ represents an evolved Youngn, someone who got afforded the opportunity through growth and wisdom to fly high above the pack and not be shackled by society’s expectations. The soft play of the piano in the background helps to add a velvetiness to the track that really drives home that different side he has exposed to us to, with Paradigm & Zaihbeats, Mixtri, Lowkee and Open Til L8 each smashing it with the production.
The big thing that standouts for ‘No Love’ is the lyrical masterclass on show. Each bar is as relenting as the next with Youngn not giving us a chance to sit back and relax. This feeling is epitomised through the line: “Stressing over green but now I get it for free, changing up the scene and now they notice me”, which is YL’s ode to making a living doing something he loves. YL also expands his vocal range with some eclectic R&B notes incorporated that are a welcome addition.
It’s been nearly two years since ‘Misunderstood’ was first released and everything about it still hits. From the plucks of the Spanish guitar to the signature “YL, YL”, this landmark track still resonates today, with Lipz battling a tumultuous relationship in the face of misconceptions around who he is. Open Til L8 and Lipz’s production, alongside Lipz’s spot-on delivery, never fails to hit. The discussion around iconic Australian hip-hop tracks would be remiss to not include ‘Misunderstood’.
In this track we experience a different side to Lipz as he relays his journey from the bottom to the top. We hear him talking about proving his haters wrong, earning his keep and providing for his family. ‘Everyday’ is enhanced through Lipz effortlessly switching up his flows mid-song, thus expertly showcasing his natural talent and skill. Throw in the phenomenal production from Lipz, Open Til L8 and Chunkyluv, who, through opting for the feint use of an electric guitar, take this track to a whole other level whilst simultaneously intertwining hints of R&B.
Although this track was released last year, it still has us vibing to this very day. We are transported to the beach on this song with a Caribbean-infused style beat courtesy of Lipz and SLADE. In typical Youngn Lipz style, he expertly mixes a catchy hook with some crafty bars in an effortless fashion. The overall flow of the song is so perfectly-crafted that you know its gonna bang every time you hear it.
‘Stuck’ is a reflective track which epitomises the themes of this album as Lipz offers insight into his learnings and lessons from his past struggles. Lipz’s use of a ceased flow, in addition to the subtle but effective vocal layering, works to evoke the lessons he has learnt. Most notably, he acknowledges the bridges he’s burnt and the progress he’s made both as an artist and a human being.
A tantalising distortion in Lipz’s vocals introduces this track, one which sees Lipz recognising the past in order to strengthen his embracing of the present. The multi-layered essence of the track can be felt in the line: “Can’t forget the times when it was winter in December”, which precedes Lipz conveying: “I seen that bright light came in and show me more, jump in the booth don’t get it twisted we still do it all”. Ultimately, ‘Before’ is Lipz’s statement of finding not just his calling, but his solace in a new life and the learnings he’s taken from the past.
From the twinkle of a xylophone evoking childhood nostalgia to YL’s pain-ridden reissuing of his signature tag, every aspect of ‘Broken Home’ is heartfelt and earnest. Within this track YL tackles the shared trauma that many in Western Sydney (and in communities around the world) would feel intimately. ‘Broken Home’ is an admittance of vulnerability and a reminder that your demons are not a reflection of who you can be, something YL is a testament to. Despite success, Lipz still feels like he’s pushing up from his difficult come-up – “I tell my father, I tell my mumma I’m still pushin’ up” – and although he’s not taking for granted that he’s still here, he’s still fighting to never be back in a place of emotional and physical toil and hardship.
This track simply hits. ‘Restart’ wholeheartedly demonstrates Lipz’s talent for balancing both stripped-back internal monologues and spirited heartfelt statements, all of which expresses a gratefulness at discovering his second chance; music. An ever-present acoustic guitar brings a warmth to the emotion behind this track as Lipz juggles fluctuating flows with sophistication aplenty, illustrating his ever-changing emotion regarding his losses. The laidback delivery of rhythmic bars such as: “AP on me, no it’s not for show, they don’t know me, we’ve been through the most” have a transparent tangibility to them. Following those bars, Lipz switches it up and hits us with an emphatic energy that lifts the spirit, only to bring it back to that stripped-back feel that shows YL has a deep love and reverence for the music he’s making at its core.
‘Spaceship’ is YL’s declaration of self-love and success. And despite the obstacles and objections in his path, YL adheres to his trajectory. Colcci joins Lipz, Lowkee and Will Roman for a wonderfully-suited production that features comforting guitar notes and some sublime booming bass.
‘Misunderstood Pt.2’ ft M Huncho
Lipz teams up with UK giant M Huncho for the surprise sequel to his hit single ‘Misunderstood’. The effort taken to passionately recreate an undisputed favorite of Lipz’s discography is undeniably there to see, something which enables the listener to appreciate the nostalgic feel of the original song and to embrace the new verses from Lipz and M Huncho. Lipz manages to spit some incredible bars in his new verses, incorporating unique melodies whilst keeping his illuminating energy alive. Featuring UK Trap star M Huncho on this single was everything we needed. In typical M Huncho fashion we receive the Arabic-infused melodies in a pure trap form, whilst he maintains the theme of the original by sharing his own similar struggles to Lipz. An amazing collaboration – Australia to the world.
On ‘Fallen’, Lipz hits the listener with an excellent match-up of his trap-R&B vocals and a surprising rap flow which demonstrates YL’s ability to strut across multiple styles. His silky, passionate vocals and effortless but firm rap flow is complimented by the production from Sheph, Lowkee and Lipz which lays a platform of echoey ephemeral backing vocals and an understated electric guitar. ‘Fallen’ is a summation of YL’s life to this point which sees Lipz showing love to those closest to him whilst acknowledging his desire to see them rise with him.
Evident throughout the album is YL’s desire to unveil more of himself to fans and listeners. Each and every track unravels more of Lipz’s life, personality and thoughts about the world he’s grown-up in. ‘Area Baby’ is a focused project, one where its topics intertwine with the significant impact his area has had on him from a youngster to now. For Lipz, there is no forgetting where he’s come from as that is who he intrinsically is.
Whilst YL is telling a story that is unique to him, it is made powerful and relatable through how eloquently he reflects the hardships of growing up in Western Sydney’s hotbed of far-reaching suburbia, distractions, street life and creativity which is on the cusp of exploding. This wave of Western Sydney talent captures the importance of embracing yourself and where you’re from. The overriding theme is that if you are able to accept, and most critically, love yourself and those around you, that is invariably when alienation, anger and misdirection subside. As the listener, we are meant to take in and learn from YL’s story, one that is palpable in its humility, tragedy and triumph beyond one’s circumstances.
Words by Joachim Subramaniam, Matthew Badrov & Maroun Ghossain
Published August 12th, 2021