Lew Later, an impressive effort at creative experimentation

Lew Later is a side-project by Lewis Hilsenteger, perhaps better known as Unbox Therapy, a popular YouTube channel dedicated to gadget unboxings.

Lew makes what I’m going to call “music videos” of him in a dimly-lit music laboratory surrounded by keyboards, speakers, computers, and mysterious boxes with flashing LED lights. Lew produces the beats on the spot, laying down a few notes at a time and then repeating and mixing them to make what are actually surprisingly solid end result. He’ll dramatically let the beat cycle once or twice before he drops in and starts rapping.

I’ve followed Unbox Therapy for a while and I’m familiar with Lew’s personality and style. This is something entirely unlike what he’s become known for. At first I thought it was a little try-hard, and when he goes overboard with the voice modulation, it’s gets a little cringey. 

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging with some friends when one of them suggested we watch one of Lew Later’s videos. I chuckled — which says a lot. But the more I think about it the more I respect what Lew is doing here.

Lew has a unique style that you can tell is inspired by his history as a successful YouTuber: he raps about self-expression and the power of ~believing in yourself~. I actually really dig his message — his lyrics are from the heart. You can tell he really feels what he’s rapping.

Lew is taking a risk by posting videos like this — he could alienate some of his followers who are used to him only making a very specific kind of video. His most recent video, “One” addresses this head on:

“Something magnificent lies somewhere in this kind of experimentation… Then again, something magnificent lies in expression in general.”

I couldn’t agree more. Experimenting with self-expression isn’t just important, it’s the foundation of new art-forms. For people who grew up on the internet — a place where rapid growth and evolution is valued above all — this kind of experimental expression is delightfully poetic. I say this entirely disregarding Lew’s technical skills as a rapper, which I admit leave something to be desired, but are more than solid enough to get the point across.

I love the fact that Lew is trying to break out of the box. He’s taking risks, and I respect that.