Desiigner has had quite the year. Starting as a relative unknown at the beginning of the year, he was signed onto Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint in February, then was featured on Kanye West’s divisive The Life of Pablo. The hype stemming from the latter had his debut single “Panda” shoot up the charts, culminating in a No.1 song in America, a feat most rappers never accrue in their careers. The Brooklyn native and G.O.O.D. music signee finally has some new music other than his hit single. New English,” the 19-year-old’s debut mixtape, is an ad-lib-filled whirlwind of a project that raises more questions than answers.
First, let’s address the obvious. Desiigner sounds like Future. A lot. Much ado has been made over the similarities between him and the Atlanta rapper, which started when the former dropped his inescapable burner of a hit “Panda,” (which is also included on this mixtape) and they don’t stop with this project. Songs like “Caliber,” “Talk Regardless” and “Roll With Me” sound like you could replace Desiigner with Fewtch and you would hardly be able to tell the difference. Now that’s not to say the songs don’t bump (“Caliber” is straight fire), it’s the lack of originality that could inevitably hurt Desiigner as his star continues to rise. When Desiigner does decide to switch up the vocal style it’s more miss than hit. When he gives us a glimpse of what it’s like where he’s from on “Make It Out,” his voice is very throaty and abrasive. The chorus sounds like he’s choking on something as he shouts out the lyrics; it’s damn near unlistenable. The fact that he’s repeating the same lyrics for over a minute to kick off the song doesn’t help either.
If you’ve ever seen Desiigner live or watched videos of him performing, you know that he gives quite the show. Running around, flailing limbs every which way, dabbing fervently every other couple of seconds; he certainly doesn’t lack enthusiasm, and this tape backs that by exuding that same energy. The songs, backed by a plethora of ad-libs, are sure to hype anyone up as soon as he goes in on the mic. Listen to “Shooters” and see if you don’t immediately feel the need to go pull up on somebody. On the six-and-a-half minute epic “Da Day,” after Milly.CTD sets the tone in the beginning of the track, Desiigner goes absolutely ballistic with about three minutes left. If you thought he was lit during “Panda,” imagine how berserk he’ll be performing this. The tape also features a couple of fanciful, piano-tinged interludes which lets the listener take a breath from the mayhem of the project.
“Jet,” featuring G.O.O.D. Music boss Pusha T, is a project highlight that has the two flossing their success through various braggdocious bars. “All designer’s no problem/Ask Desiigner, I signed him/Billboard’s a jungle gym/Sat back and watch ’em climb ’em,” Pusha spits. “I’ma run right through this paper/I’ma run right through this paper,” Desiigner repeats on the hook, determined to live his new cash-filled life to the fullest.
As “Panda” filled clubs and house parties around the nation, people were skeptical of Desiigner’s future. Would he ever surpass or even match the amount of success he garnered with “Panda,” or would he be another one-hit-wonder rapper à la Soulja Boy and Trinidad James? Now that we finally have something to compare it to, the results are leaning more towards the latter. While his debut album The Life of Desiigner, slated for release later this year, should make the answers more clearer, with this mixtape there’s just too much of what we’ve already seen other people master to warrant the hype he compiled with “Panda.” He’s still only 19 years old, so there’s definitely some room to improve. Kanye’s been called a genius by many people (including himself). Is the genius that he and the rest of G.O.O.D. Music see something in Desiigner that we don’t see yet? Or does the genius lie in the fact that they convinced us that he actually had some talent?