The rate at which we now create our online heroes, villains, memes and musical stars, in truth, can no longer be seen as a thing of wonder and novelty, but rather an accepted parcel of immediate global connections we’ve built up across media over the last decade. Ten years removed from Soulja Boy's viral hit "Crank Dat", Brooklyn native Desiigner stands as the biggest recipient of the overnight explosion the internet affords those lucky enough to make the right connection, at the right moment.
Powered by priceless placement on Kanye West's eighth solo album, The Life Of Pablo, you'd be hard pressed to think of a better introductory platform for a new rapper, and Designer's "Panda" shot to No.1 in a matter of weeks. From then on, it hasn't always been plain sailing. Hailing from the same Borough as NY rap luminaries Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G., his emergence was met with derision in some quarters—chastised as not only carrying a sound foreign to his locale but in some regards, ripping off elements of southern rappers, with Future the name most commonly connected. Failure to drop an album in this time frame also appears a stumbling block and the lukewarm reception to last year's New English mixtape suggested Desiigner's time at the top may well have already struck out.
But what separates Desiigner from those in the same bracket is his apparent outlook on his circumstance, music and life on the whole. Carrying endless bounds of energy and infectious charisma, Desiigner's disposition is one of a young man all too aware of his luck and intent on riding the wave to even greater heights. It's through his positivity that Desiigner manages to evade criticism and pushes in his chosen direction. In his recent interview with Canadian veteran Nardwuar, Desiigner effortlessly manages to out-oddball the most eccentric journo in the game—this signals where his staying power resides. The irony is that a rapper initially labelled a copy has carved out a lane for himself.
Ahead of Desiigner's arrival in London to headline a show unveiling adidas Football's Nemeziz drop—and just weeks before he unveiled a music video with Paul Pogba—we caught up with Desiigner over the phone, where he explained what it was like to live the "Life Of Desiigner" in his own unique blend of New English.
It's an exciting time for you right now—what have you been working on?
Maaan! I'm just working on my album right now, The Life Of Desiigner—like right now, as we speak. Got videos in the pipeline too, man; it's just a lot going on right now. Songs are getting mixed with so much going on: the album, the video, stuff I can’t even say. Just know the main focus is to get people dancing again. We gotta have my people dancing!
We definitely need that energy back again.
Come on, man! Aye! You what time it is. I’m coming from every different angle—everybody's gonna be happy, from my fans to everybody else. It's gon' be crazy.
You're spending a lot of time in London. How good is your knowledge of the UK music scene at the moment?
Yeah, last time I was out here, I had a couple videographers telling me about a couple of grime artists. I like the music, I like the energy—it's kinda like trap mixed with almost like, techno beats. Craaazy, man.
You've followed the lead of your labelmates, Pusha T and Kanye West, and signed with adidas, and you've just dropped a visual alongside Paul Pogba. How was that? Did you play sports much growing up?
First of all, shout out to Pogba. We did that shit as a team. It was great, man. I'm a basketball guy and a football guy; those are my sports, you know what I'm saying? I used to play little bit of baseball, you know, like, Little League, so shout out the baseball guys too.
You're a Knicks fan too, right?
Aye! Aye! You dig! You know we always ballin’. We gotta stay on the court, mayne. Gotta stay on the court! [Laughs]
What would say has been your biggest highlight to date since you've been down with adidas?
It's just everything, just working with adidas. Just to be down with the Originals, that's a big thing to me, you know? That's number one. Working on videos, all of these things, it's all helped me in my career.
Have you had a chance to see the new Adidas Football video with Astroid Boys and Abra Cadabra?
Oh yeah, I've heard it and I love how the track sounds. Like I said, it's a brand new sound... I kinda wanna jump on that.
You recently went sneaker shopping with our guy, Joe La Puma, out in the States. Tell us more about some of your favourite sneakers?
My favourite sneakers would have to be the two pairs I'm working on, you dig what I'm saying? No, no, no, like, for real—you just need to wait and see. When I was younger, though, I'd go to old school shell tops: the Superstars.
I also see you out here stepping your car game up. What's the collection looking like at the moment?
Aye! You know I got that Batmobile! That BMW i8. You know what time it is [laughs]. Look on the gram, it's crazy! That's the whip right now. Grrraaah!
Back onto the new music you have coming, people aren't sure what kind of a sound you're about to return with. What's been your current process in recording?
When I'm recording, it's always been an energy vibe; I just need the feel the vibe, and then let it go. I used to write it down when I was younger, but now my energy is high up and my thinking process is at such a speed, I just do it with a maximum amount of energy. I always just keep my positive energy up and make sure sure you feed off of that through my music.
How do you guys manage to make it all work at G.O.O.D Music, with the rest of the team working on so many other projects? Do you all still find the time to get together and make music?
Everybody's still coming together as a team, you know? I've got Pusha, you know he A&R'ing the project; I got Kanye, you know he helping out too. We're actually working on a team project. I won't say too much on that, but we workin'!
Finally, what's your plans for the rest of the year?
I'm coming back out to the UK, for sure—I've got a show out there. I'm also premiering new music from the album. It's about to be crazy, so just stay tuned. I'm really coming from all different angles, from the Caribbean side, from all sides. It's gonna be nuts, man. Shout out London too, man. I love y'all.
Desiigner's official video for 'Outlet', created with adidas Football and Paul Pogba, is available to watch now.