Desiigner Tries to Find Himself on ‘New English’
Brooklyn rapper Desiigner had a lot to live up to on his debut mixtape, New English, considering he was a relatively unknown artist at the start of the year. In the past six months, Desiigner went from an 18-year-old independent artist releasing tracks on YoutTube and SoundCloud to signing to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music, having his "Panda" track sampled on West's The Life of Pablo, seeing "Panda" rise to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming part of the 2016 XXL Freshman class. So much hype on such an extremely limited amount of music would mean Desiigner would have to come correct when he released a full project to keep the buzz going.
He had to prove himself in other ways going into New English. One of the biggest criticisms of "Panda" and some of the freestyles he's released is that he seems to borrow a lot stylistically from Future, from overall sound to subject matter and flow. Many hip-hop fans immediately labeled him a complete biter of the style. While creating this tape, Desiigner needed to showcase he's more than a Future clone.
So it's good news that he's experimenting on New English. The mixtape finds Desiigner playing around with different flows and styles as he attempts to find his own unique voice to set him apart from the comparisons and the accusations of biting.
"Make It Out" in particular stands out as Desiigner experiments with new styles. "Panda" and other tracks on the tape feature his fast, smooth flow and mumbling, making listeners have to really tune in to understand all of the lyrics. "Make It Out" is different. His flow is still fast-paced, but his voice is more gruff and loud, and he focuses more on the enunciation of the lyrics. There won't be much confusion when he shouts, "All of them killers won't make it out/Car crash, call it, racing out/Got a big brick, tryna build a house/Tryna run my Mercedes out/Big grams in my granny couch."
"Da Day" finds Desiigner getting a little more ambitious. The song has two parts and lasts nearly seven minutes. The rhymer gives Milly CTD (one of the three features on the entire project) some of the spotlight, while he changes up flows throughout the course of the song himself. Those following Desiigner may remember some of his bars from a Tim Westwood freestyle he did, but it sounds better in the context of the song. On "Jet," Pusha T shows up while King Savage appears on "Zombie Walk."
Although he's signed to a major label, the production on the mixtape is largely done by lesser known names with the exception of Rico Beats ("Roll Wit Me") and Mike Dean ("Overnight"). There are some solid trap beats, but with the exception of "Panda," nothing really stands out as a really killer instrumental. Everything sounds good, but not particularly noteworthy. Fortunately, that allows Desiigner to be the focus of the tape, instead of being overshadowed by the beat selection.
Although the rapper seems to be growing as an artist on New English, there are still some flaws. The tape won't take all of the Future comparisons away, especially when people hear songs like "Caliber." He may be switching things up a little bit as he finds his voice, but he's not all the way there yet. Also, many of the songs, particularly in the first half of the mixtape, seem more like sketches. Of the first nine tracks on the project, only one of them clocks in longer than three minutes. Brevity in music can be good, but some of these songs seem to end as quickly as they start, and could be fleshed out a bit. Desiigner's lyrics also seem to be limited in subject matter, and the themes of the song can all seem the same after a while.
Despite its flaws, New English is a solid debut for a rapper who just turned 19 and is trying to figure things out. He's only been rapping for a few years, so this can be expected. His ad-libs and energy are huge assets, and with more time, he could live up to all the hype he's received in his short career. For now, he's just a young artist with talent trying to find himself.
Behind the Scenes With Desiigner at 2016 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot