Shore Fire Media

Johan Lenox Subverts Pop Orthodoxy On Debut Album WDYWTBWYGU Out March 11

Johan Lenox Subverts Pop Orthodoxy On Debut Album WDYWTBWYGU Out March 11

Features 070 Shake, Lancey Foux, Thouxanbanfauni, Ant Clemons, Rmr, Mr. Hudson, Cousin Stizz + The Brooklyn Youth Chorus



Today, Johan Lenox — the artist whose work with luminaries like Kanye West, Lil Nas X, Snoh Alegra, Big Sean, Channel Tres, and Teyana Taylor has made him an in-demand collaborator, songwriter, and producer — announces the March 11 release of his debut album WDYWTBWYGU, an ambitious examination of ennui and souring nostalgia at the precipice of adulthood. Across 14 tracks that feature contributions from 070 Shake, Lancey Foux, Thouxanbanfauni, Ant Clemons, RMR, Mr. Hudson, and Cousin Stizz, the self-produced, self-composed album subverts maximalist pop and hip-hop production orthodoxy by eschewing synthesizers and guitars altogether. Instead, Lenox employs strings, woodwinds, and assorted vocal textures — including choral arrangements performed by theBrooklyn Youth Chorus — that lend the music an epic scope as it addresses dashed hopes, workplace precarity, and the collapse of the American Dream.

Lead single “You Up?” grasps desperately at intimacy in a moment of weakness. “I just want to feel like I’m in love,” Lenox sings atop pizzicato string plucks and skittering hi-hats, before admitting: “Bet I find a way to f**k this up.” Ant Clemonscontributes a verse that follows the cadence of a late night text conversation, careening from measured confidence to a frantic unspooling of insecurities. 

The “You Up?” video, directed by Aamir Khuller, posits a cab ride as a purgatory where Johan confronts an older version of himself that didn’t quite get things right. Watch it here:

Johan Lenox’s distinctive production style is indebted to a youth spent listening solely to classical music. He grew to love it and sought to understand it deeply, putting him on a path that led to him emerging as an elite composer at age 16. However, he did not deeply engage with pop music — until one night at a local Massachusetts house party where he took acid and listened to Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It was a transformative moment, one that inspired him to explore the uncharted waters of pop and hip-hop production.

Lenox went from composing for the Yale Symphony Orchestra to creatingYeethoven, a concert that interpolated Kanye West’s Yeezus with the works of Beethoven. Superproducer Mike Dean took notice and linked Lenox with Kanye himself. Soon Lenox was contributing to songs by Big Sean, Nipsey Hussle, andJohn Legend as he harnessed his unique talents and crafted a singular sonic signature. 

On WDYWTBWYGU  an acronym for “What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?” — Johan Lenox’s vision of pop music comes into focus. By way of an evocatively autotuned croon, he ponders aging and the cavernous gap between youthful expectation and adult reality. Amid production replete with generous reverb and interstitial digressions that showcase the breadth of his compositional acumen, he chastises his own unreliability (“I’m A Mess”), fantasizes about an escape from deadend suburbia (“Fuck This Town”), and bristles against the expectations of his peers (“No One Gets Me”). On “Hitting Different,” he laments his generation’s lack of stable career options as he gets paid cents on the dollar to drive an Uber and take a pet to doggie day care. "is this all part of getting older? or is everything just f*cked,"he wonders.

Keep an eye out for more from Johan Lenox soon, and listen to "You Up" here:



What Happening (ft. 070 Shake)

I’m a Mess (ft. Lancey Foux)

You Up? (ft. Ant Clemons)

Some Sort of Intent

Get My Shit Together (ft. Thouxanbanfauni)

Fuck This Town


Hitting Different

Burning Sky (ft. Mr. Hudson)

Don’t Be A Loser

No One Gets Me (ft. RMR)

Phases (ft. Cousin Stizz)

What Do You Want To Be?

Don’t Wait For Me


Johan Lenox Online