Brooklyn rapper Desiigner, who recently signed to G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam and is featured twice on Kanye West's The Life of Pablo album, isn't your typical New York City artist. His sound is more in the lane of Atlanta's scene right now than a lot of the music coming out of NYC, but he's focused on making his own lane, and with the success of his hit single, "Panda," it's hard to argue with the results.
With the triumph of "Panda,"—a catchy trap song that Kanye brilliantly flipped onto his own track "Pt. 2"—detractors have popped up to question Desiigner's originality, despite the fact that he has limited music out. And still, the questions are fair to ask because Desiigner does sound similar to Future, and that's something that he'll have to deal with going forward as an emerging talent.
However, despite the doubt from some, with Kanye West in his corner, Desiigner will have every opportunity to show and prove that he has his own place in the game. And with a first single like "Panda," which at this point is only scratching the surface of its potential, the sky seems to be the limit. In an exclusive conversation, we talked with Desiigner about the success of "Panda," lessons from Kanye, and his thoughts on people comparing him to Future.
When did you know that "Panda" was gonna be big?
The second I put it out, it became a special record. Once I put it out it was already like 5K [streams] then over the weekend just went to like, 200K. Before "Panda" I had a buzz already. I was on the radio. I touched radio before through a couple features I did in the past and a couple of artists that I connected with. I had collaborations with some other artists. After that, everyone was used to hearing me. I was putting my music out. Everyone was in love with my name, they was in love with my style, in love with the funk, you know, dig the flavor.
Explain where the whole "Panda" theme comes from.
The panda is the black X6 and the white X6. The black X6 look like a Phantom, the white X6 look like a panda. I’m just putting it in a greater way of how I say and the way I live.
I actually like Future’s music. I like his music, you feel me. I’m not a hater or a critic on him, you know, I do me.
What's your response to people who say you sound like Future?
God gave him a blessing, but he gave me a blessing too. I ain't gonna doubt the man's music. He make beautiful music too. Music is made every day. Big ups to him, big ups to Future. I actually like Future’s music. I like his music, you feel me. I’m not a hater or a critic on him, you know, I do me. God bless him, God bless me.
You don't have a typical New York City sound.
I’m here to actually deliver art and deliver the creation, you know, wherever the music brings somebody. If it makes somebody want to do this or inspires people to step to another level or my level or whatever you’re from. I love to, you know, just inspire people however they wanna take it.
How was "Panda" added to Kanye's "Father Stretch My Hands?"
The moment it became "Pt. 2," I don’t know how long had he been working on it, but he came to me. He was like, "I got an idea." He put his brain power together, we put my brain power together, and you know, we made it happen. It was just like he had an idea, brought me a little of what he was thinking about, and was like, "Let’s go with it. Let’s make it happen."
Describe being in the studio with Kanye.
It was definitely a dream come true. It was just time to work. It was like someone who you know got that type of art power and my type of art power and let’s put it together and let’s make beautiful music.
What swayed you to sign with G.O.O.D.?
The title itself. The way they move. It’s strong. I mean, you know, they stay united. I see they’re a united team, and they’re not all about just the streets. They’re more of a business team, you feel me? That’s the future I’m working on.
What about a G.O.O.D. Music remix? Could that happen?
Whatever's going to be created. I can't give out the specialties! Y'all trying to make me tell everything. I'm trying to have y'all excited, but definitely stay tuned.
What about Kanye's show at MSG? What was that experience like?
It was a blessing the way it hit people. I’m glad it hit people like that. It gave everybody something to talk about. I didn’t want to give nobody something that people really expect. If you expect something, there ain’t nothing to really talk about. It’s just like, "Oh it happened, it happened." But I’m glad that it happened that it was so unexpected that everybody got to enjoy and embrace the moment.
Did being in your hometown make it that much better?
Yeah, it was more powerful because this is what I do—I live for this. Just to see that type of crowd in front of me in the stands next to the greats like, that is wonderful.
You were spotted by the paparazzi in L.A. with Kanye recently. Are you used to that kind of stuff yet?
It was just a grateful moment. When I saw the cameras on me, I actually wanted to dance, I wanted to be on top of the cars. Get crazy. I embraced that moment. That moment right there was definitely something that was new for me. I've never seen that before.
What are you learning about the business from the G.O.O.D. team?
They're definitely crazy motivators. They definitely a good camp. I talk to Kanye. I talked to a couple of them. I talked to Push. I haven’t really got to talk to Big Sean or them. They say, "We’re not rappers, we’re artists." And I’m big on that. We’re artists, and we’re not just rappers. And that’s what I look at. I don’t look at it like as I’m just this dude with lyrics and I can just put songs on—no, I’m an artist. Everything I think about I want it to be creative, make me feel some type of emotion.
When are we going to get a video for "Panda"?
Stay tuned for the "Panda" video. That's definitely coming soon, so fasten your seat belts.
Will we see actual pandas in the video?
[Laughs.] It could be. I can't tell you though. It could be panda bootys, panda animals, panda trees, anything.
How do you feel about "Panda" becoming the "it" song to remix in rap right now?
It's a blessing for everyone who did. I never had that before. I got no hate against. If you think you got another verse for the song, put it on there!
What's next for Desiigner?
Stay tuned for the video. I got a mixtape coming soon. Lot of stuff on the way.