Desiigner: is the hyped rapper the genre’s new hope or a shameless hack?

Hes signed to Kanyes label, divided opinion at the BET awards and been accused of ripping off Future but is there more to him than fulfills the eye?

Last year, Brooklyn rapper Desiigner crashed into the spotlight with Panda, a catchy trap track that likens a white BMW X6 to the endangered mammal. Within months of the way surfacing, the 19 -year-old rapper was signed to GOOD Music by the labels newly appointed president, Pusha T, and the signing was announced soon after by label boss Kanye West at his Yeezy Season 3 event. Wests album cut Pt 2 featured a instead prominent sample of Panda, which is now being blamed as a blatant bite of Atlanta rapper Future, who rendered two number 1 albums last year: Dirty Sprite 2 and What A Hour To Be Alive with Drake. The comparing isnt without its flaws, but it has far more merit than Action Bronsons resemblance to Ghostface Killah or when some rap fans believed Your Old Droog to secretly be Nas. You dont have to listen too hard to hear Panda as Future cosplay.

Panda is clearly influenced by Futures highly influential run, a stretch among the most prolific in rap history. It attempts to synthesize the most basic elements of Future hits into a serviceable rapper-suit: the auto-tune coated croaks, the hammering nature of some of his most fearsome cadences( Same Damn Time, and Sh! t, for example ), and his chant-like recitations( Racks and Jumpman ). Even the lyrics to Panda read like a generator spewing out garbled content from Future songs( I got broads in Atlanta/ Twistin dope, lean, and the Fanta isnt much of a stretching from Im rolling strong weed inside the Phantom/ Im simply a street nigga from Atlanta/ We put the codeine inside a Fanta from Futures Jordan Diddy ). The ballad and Desiigner have received the ire of the #FutureHive and created eyebrows from even casual commentators. He isnt the first rapper( or musician) to mold himself in the likeness of a popular superstar, but he very well might be the laziest.

In the weeks that followed the Future revelation, Panda climbed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, getting a folksy pop cover-up, and eventually running platinum in several countries. Its been a bigger reached than any anthem of Futures. But whats been particularly astonishing about this run is watching a anthem this boring become so trendy, and considering Desiigner double down by releasing a full mixtape of Panda variations.

Desiigners story is an interesting one. The rapper turned a beat he purchased online for $200 originally labeled in its YouTube description a Meek Mill-Ace Hood Type Beat into a cosign from the worlds most popular rap star. If he isnt playing Future, then hes playing someone else. As MTV News critic Meaghan Garvey points out, his sound is heavily indebted to Chicagos drill scene, mimicking tumbling cadences from rappers like G Herbo( FKA Lil Herb) and Lil Bibby. Its a bit like watching one of those Michael Jordan-Kobe Bryant mirror-image highlight reels( merely instead of Kobe, its Nick Young ). Hes committed to the role.

The few samples of his early music remaining on the web are vignettes of other rap starrings: Desiigner fashioning himself shadow marionettes in the likenesses of Kid Cudi, Travis Scott or Kevin Gates. His recently released debut mixtape, New English( a fitting title for a rapper who has mostly produced indecipherable poems ), scans as parody that turns on the sonic flourishes of Chief Keef( Da Day ), Waka Flocka Flame( Monstas& Villains) and, of course, Future( Roll Wit Me, Caliber ).

Desiigner Whats been most astonishing about this run is watching a song this boring become so trendy. Photograph: PR Image

If Desiigner isnt blatantly rending off the styles of others, then at the very least hes a master troll. He continues to dance around the Future comparison in interviews, never outright denying the accusation. And when skeptics first starting telling Panda was a knock off of the Atlanta rapper, Desiigner responded by taunting a follow-up sung called Pluto, the name of Futures debut album. The trolling has continued as recently as this week, when he performed Futures part in DJ Khaleds new single I Got The Keys. Its the closest hell get to being Future.

The best anthem of Desiigners career thus far isnt even a ballad; its an a cappella freestyle for his XXL Freshman class selection, a rap hymnal called Timmy Turner that has already inspired countless remixes. The tune commands more impression in 46 seconds than New English does in 36 minutes. Or, at least, it did, until legendary producer Mike Dean taunted the official version, which turns what was an impassioned performance into only another one of his soulless imitations. Desiigner is most interesting playing himself, but hes most comfortable playing someone else.

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