#910: ‘Zan With That Lean’ – Soulja Boy

There have been many moments in history when things start to decline in quality. Most famously, the term ‘jumping the shark’ is used to describe the point at which a TV show does just this. The term comes from the episode of Happy Days in which Fonzie does exactly that. Many noted a decline in the show’s quality from that point on. Other examples might include when they won the lottery in Roseanne, or when Agent Mulder, one of the main characters, decides to leave The X-Files. If you think this line of writing is rather abstract, what I’m saying is, please don’t consider my choosing of a Soulja Boy track in this countdown to be an indication of diminishing quality.

Soulja Boy has been a rather divisive figure in the world of music for quite some time. Ever since his debut single ‘Crank That (Soulja Boy)‘, presumably named so that people wouldn’t have to read past the track title to know who the artist is, Soulja has divided opinions with his relatively amateur-sounding style of music. Despite commercial success, his raps feature strange, convoluted rhyme schemes, tackle insipid subjects, and don’t seem to really hold up against other successful artists within the genre. Nevertheless, Soulja Boy has seen years of chart success, and has managed to release four albums, and almost 40 mixtapes at the time of writing. He’s certainly not lazy, I’ll give him that.

Upon its release, Soulja Boy’s Juice mixtape was considered one of his best. The cover art was inspired by, and the mixtape was supposed to be accompanied by a Soulja Boy-starring remake of, Tupac Shakur’s movie Juice. Soulja stated that this mixtape meant that he was truly going to be one of the greats, though many ended up disagreeing with that sentiment.

One of the key tracks on the mixtape is ‘Zan With That Lean’. Featured as the sixth track on the mixtape, it was also included as the final track as an ‘original’ version, which feels much more complete. The track was even picked up by publications such as Pitchfork who named it one of their best tracks of the year and even called it one of the best songs of the decade a while back.

What’s so great about the song though? Well, that’s hard to say. On face value, the track is a superficial musing about Soulja’s life. He’s got everything he needs. He’s got women, fame, respect, and all he could ever want. The song’s hook, sung by J-Money, is stating that Soulja is feeling pretty chilled out too. In addition to smoking a strain of marijuana commonly found in Soulja’s home state, he’s in a state of blissful relaxation, due to drinking the titular ‘Zan with that lean’. For the uninitiated, ‘Zan with that lean’ refers to a mixture of ‘Zan’, a common name for the anxiety medication Xanax, and ‘lean’, which is commonly known as ‘purple drank’, a combination of cough syrup, soft drink, and usually candy.

The entirety of the song sees Soulja Boy rapping about how good his life is. It’s a refreshing take on the usual confronting themes of daily life, often spouted by many performers. At the end of the day, ‘Zan With That Lean’ is an infectious track that shouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is. While one may be wary of a track by Soulja Boy, I highly invite an open mind going into this one, because, like me, you may end up loving this track more than you’d like to admit.

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