Just so you know, Desiigner doesn’t actually have broads in Atlanta.
Once a Soundcloud novelty, the Brooklyn rapper quickly rose to stardom after Kanye West sampled his hit single “Panda” for his Life of Pablo cut “Pt. 2.” Whether it’s his signature ad-libs or funnily disconcerting resemblance to Future, Desiigner has certainly made a name for himself in the rap industry with, impressively enough, a song whose all-too-familiar bridge chants “Panda, panda, panda.”
But the recent G.O.O.D. Music signee has finally branched out from the confines of his career — or arguably, one-hit-wonder phase — with the release of his first mixtape, New English. To say the least, it’s underwhelming and disappointing.
This isn’t to say that the production or energy packed into the 14 songs are lacking — if anything, these elements keep New English floating just above the surface. With reverberating bass and hard-hitting snares paired with Desiigner’s characteristic vigor, the mixtape has several club bangers. But it seems like that’s all they are — club bangers that will soon be replaced by new club bangers from other artists. It raises the question: Is Desiigner an unsubstantial mimicry of other rappers or a promising artist who can offer more than just machine gun ad-libs?
“Caliber” falls short as Desiigner incessantly repeats “caliber,” drawing more attention to the word itself rather than his actual caliber. He alludes to his success a whopping one time, with a meek “Life of Desiigner be stylin’ boy,” then proceeds to ramble about drugs and money before abusing the word “caliber” again. The trap track is undeniably catchy with its female background vocals, which are reminiscent of the “ohs” echoing throughout Nelly’s “Dilemma,” but it lacks anything else worth listening to.
“Roll Wit Me” continues this pattern. With two short verses, both of which contain indiscernible one-liners, the track isn’t much more than Desiigner chanting the hook one too many times as he breathlessly incants his ad-libs. Although a repetitive hook fared well in “Panda,” it’s now just a meager stand-in for substantive lyricism. Unfortunately, this played-out scheme constitutes the majority of the mixtape, as seen in “Make It Out” and “Talk Regardless.”
Disappointingly enough, “Jet” is only worth noting because of its featured artist, Pusha T. As both label partners boast about their lavish lifestyles, Pusha T spits the most clever lines on the entire mixtape as he alludes to his car: “Dual exhausts like Twin Towers / On that Carerra I cause a jet / Please call 9-1-1 / You know this a Turbo X.” Although it might be daunting to rap alongside his boss — the president of G.O.O.D. Music — Desiigner’s weak lyrical game is more apparent as he continues to muster substandard lines.
But in “Zombie Walk,” Desiigner turns the tables as he extends past one-liners and reveals more of himself along the way. Backed by a fusion of an elegant organ piano and glitched synths, Desiigner raps of the distrust he has for others as a striving rapper. It lends a peek into his new life, one infused with drugs, competition and ambition. The first line is telling: “I’m not letting no n*gga get in my way.”
As “Panda” closes the mixtape, it reminds listeners why the 19-year-old star got swept off his feet into a whirlwind of fame in the first place. “I got broads in Atlanta,” will forever be recognized in the rap community as 2016’s signal to go hyphy.
Really, what’s most disappointing about New English is we don’t learn much more about Desiigner after “Panda.” It’s a fair attempt of branching out as a new, young star, but how long can Desiigner put up with this feat of creating superficial songs that shadow “Panda” before being rendered into irrelevance as just another rapper? Who knows, but it doesn’t look like he’s faring well.
Contact Caroline Lee at [email protected].