desiigner talks new york, making movies, and blasting 'tlop' in kanye's rolls royce
By day he’s in the studio with Kanye, by night he’s ripping up stages with Pusha T. This 19-year-old rapper isn’t getting much sleep.
What do you get when you take an ambitious teenager and promise him the world? That'd be fledgling rapper, Desiigner. Though he burst out only a few months ago bragging about "Versace shit" and "Bugatti whip[s]" in Panda -- the trap banger that came out of nowhere and beat Beyoncé and Drake to a Billboard #1 -- the 19-year-old's sights are set even higher. And after being signed by Kanye, praised by Pusha T, and becoming the first NYC rapper since Jay-Z to take the top spot, then why not?
We meet Desiigner on his first ever visit to London. Reclining on the sofa in his hotel room, he's dripping in gold, and sporting a diamond encrusted Rolex, which refracts light around the room and onto his six strong entourage. He's feeling a little ropey after taking to the stage the previous night with new label mate Pusha, and partying till the early hours, but that doesn't stop him hungrily sharing the details of his impending world domination. Here's what we learned from spending half an hour with the hungover rapper of the moment…
1. First things first, Desiigner has no time for your Future comparisons.
Much has been said, little of it positive, about how Desiigner sounds similar to Atlanta native, Future. He doesn't have anything to say on this. He's over it, off limits, no comment.
2. He may have "broads in Atlanta," but Desiigner is a New Yorker through and through.
900 miles away from Atlanta, Desiigner actually hails from Brooklyn, but admits his musical influences are eclectic. "My pops is into that old school Funkadelic sound," he begins. "Growing up, my sister used to listen to a lot of reggae, there was always this big sound clash going on in our house. But with me, it's not just about Panda. I'm gonna give them another one and then another one and another one. I know my quality, and before I knew my quality, I knew my style. I'm always writing, there's always melodies going round in my head," he declares. "Before Panda blew up, I was just at school, but I stopped going towards the eleventh grade. Everyone was like, 'you're gonna fail' but I always felt like they weren't telling me the stuff I really wanted to know."
3. He hung out Kanye until his mom ordered him home.
Desiigner's first meeting with Yeezus is exactly how you'd expect a future signee's first meeting with Yeezus to be. It took place in a Rolls Royce outside LAX, surrounded by paparazzi, and lasted less than half an hour. "I got out of our car into his car," he explains, "he started playing Father Stretch My Hands Part 2 [the track that samples Panda and features on Kanye's The Life of Pablo album]. We were in the car and he was just playing all this music, it was a great, great moment in my life. I was signed later that day. I went back to the studio and did a song called Overnight with Mike Dean. They were trying to keep me hostage, like, 'You're not going anywhere, stay in LA' -- but I had to leave -- my mom wanted me home!"
4. There's already an Obama dubbed version of Panda… and it's got almost 2 million views.
"Shout out to Obama, I know you've been listening to Panda. Someone made it but I know he listens, he be doing his thing, Michelle be doing her thing to Panda."
5. He's a big fan of the dancers who went viral with a Panda dance routine.
Prepare to have your tiny mind blown by the sheer dance skills possessed by pre-teens Kyndall Harris and Taylor Hatala. Desiigner actually reached out to them after seeing this, with the idea of featuring them in the Panda video. They weren't available but he'd still really like to meet them. "I'd like to chill out with them. Have a good time, maybe go to an amusement park or something? That would be cool." Girls, it's your move…
6. Desiigner really likes London.
He bought his own place in New York as soon as he was signed and he's since gone on to purchase pads in LA too. London, he tells us, is next on his real estate list. After we speak, he's off to Hyde Park, a stones throw away, to get high. What else is on his London to-do list? "I'm gonna try and make a Panda flash mob. I think it could happen! Then we have another party tonight, at Tape." He pauses, gazing out the window. "There's a whole lot of foreign cars, everything here is just like the movies, all the cars with blackout windows, I'm up here looking like a dope dealer! London traffic is so different it's crazy, people driving on the other side of the road?! I'm not driving here, no way!"
7. He has an unusual way of chirpsing the ladies.
He sings them Happy Birthday. "When I was much younger, I was always doing it." he confesses. "I used to sing happy birthday to girls the whole time, that was my thing. I was a ladies' boy, you feel me?"
8. His grandfather is a legit blues musician.
Sydney 'Guitar Crusher' Selby has performed with everyone from Ben E King to the Isley Brothers. "He's way more famous in Germany," according to Desiigner, and in case you're wondering, yes, Gramps rates Panda.
9. Desiigner fancies himself as a bit of a prophet.
Millions of YouTube views, being sample by Kanye… none of this is really phasing Desiigner. "I knew it was going to happen" he insists. "I have these very high standards. I always knew when I was younger I would make it. I'm from the projects, but I always saw myself in a higher platform, I saw myself as bigger…"
10. He'll be coming to a screen near you before you know it.
One of the best bits of advice Kanye gave Desiigner was to, "be an artist" -- not a rapper. That's what Desiigner attributes to both the trainer collab, the fashion line, and, next, he really wants to make movies… "All movies. Action movies, quiet music, sad movies; I would love to make pictures." Romance? "Hell yes, for real, I could make a romance film. No, I will make a romance film."
Text Shannon Mahanty