The short answer? “Love,” as Leone shouts into the abyss, penning the main character of his pgLang introduction to be the “hero” of his own volition. Where there’s uncharted territory, though, there’s room to conquer, develop and expand, as the 24-year-old hitmaker is carving his own path on his terms — proving that he’s truly “One of One.”
Expertly melding both lyrics and melody on his first formal project, the Los Angeles native’s ability to captivate you with a homegrown aura is an instant cornerstone of his sound — uninterested of “being put in a box” on his featureless debut. Simply put, he’s much more than just Kendrick Lamar’s latest signee, revealing himself to be a multi-genre anomaly on Sleepy Solider.
“I’m not interested in being put in a box, or people attempting to categorize me as one thing or another. In reality, it’s pretty normal for a person to be able to change their faces depending on what room they’re going into. We all do it. So as an artist, I just wanted to be that.”Tanna Leone to Complex
Balancing both visceral bars and somber song structures alike, his personality, track presence and poise paint a divine portrait of originality. He’s a beaming voice of focus — and despite it being his debut LP — it seems as if he’s spent decades refining his sound. While short and to the punch — with each of its 14 tracks barely pushing the 3-minute mark — it makes replays feel seamless no matter the setting. Not only saying “f—k you to the norm” of what rappers can and can’t be, Sleepy Soldier sees Tanna choosing to be himself unapologetically.
“The project evolved from an EP. It was originally seven songs and none of those songs are on it now. It’s been in the process for probably two years, but it’s evolved so much over time. This version of it is such a standalone, strong body of work, and everybody believes in it. It’s a greatest hits compilation, almost, up to now. There’s a combination of older songs on there and then there’s some very new stuff on there, too.”Tanna Leone via Complex
Whether it be rock-influenced cuts like “February” and “Heartbreaker,” ethereally-uplifting commercial breaks like “Nirvana” or moving bangers like “Picasso,” “Fatal Attraction” and “Here We Go Again,” Leone proves that no sound is off limits. His presence and capabilities as a lyricist go far beyond that of a newcomer — seemingly honing his craft in secret until it was time to unveil his “greatest hits.”
His introspective plots on “Death n’ Taxes” is further evidence of “Lucky” Leone’s undeniable star power. Singing a heavenly cadence over guitar-driven, dreamscape production, Leone woozily invites listeners to think deeper about their existence, as his voice instantly steals the show on first listen. Spinning two of life’s absolutes, death and taxes, into a raw realization of being, you can’t help but hang on to his every word.
The world doesn’t owe me anything
I didn’t ask to be born
I know that sounds dramatic but hear me out
While I perform
What does all mean anyway
When the fabric of life gets torn
None of it matters any wayTanna Leone — “Death n’ Taxes”
The visual is equally as entrancing, as the camera solely focuses on Tanna with the world surrounding him erupting in emotion. He remains still in the moment but seems displaced from reality, creating a familiar yet otherworldly experience.
Much of the LP is like this feeling — with Tanna’s diverse soundscape keeping you present but “out of body” all at once. At the album’s peak, “If There’s A God,” Leone swoons and scintillates with more introspective quips about life over the track’s cinematically lush soundscape. With mesmerizing string melodies and off-kilter percussion, it sounds as if he’s created an entrance into heaven, surprising you once more with his raw singing ability and songwriting. Finding the light amid the darkness, it’s a somber cut on an otherwise triumphant LP that sees Tanna reflect on how his own demons were always blessings in disguise.
‘Cause I was lookin’ for you
Ten years old I tried to end it, I was lookin’ for you
My sister walked in and she stopped me, that was ’cause of you
A decade later, I was starvin’ and uncomfortable
My tears moisturized the street
‘Cause I was weepin’, hopin’ that your eyes could see
Depression had me feelin’ like you out of reachTanna Leone — “If There’s A God”
Apart from the more immersive cuts on the record, Sleepy Solider is charismatically refreshing, blending a plethora of styles and gives fans a robust sample platter of Tanna’s irreplaceable skillset. Jumping from trap bangers and percussionless ballads to love-torn emo-raps in just 29 minutes, it’s a curated crash course of his insatiable sonic palette.
While the Sleepy Solider himself possesses a slew of strengths, Tanna’s refined versatility is what makes new fans fall hard. Leaving you on a cliffhanger after the Friday night joyride “February” concludes, Leone’s future lies in his ability to expand on the world he’s created. But for now, he’s just enjoying the view.
One thing is for certain, don’t sleep on Sleepy Soldier.
Listen to Tanna Leone’s ‘Sleepy Solider’ below!