The first time I heard “Panda” by red hot Brooklyn emcee Desiigner, it was late 2015 and I was messing around on SoundCloud. It came up as a suggestion, because of something else I was listening to. You know how that goes. In any event, I let the song run. About 40 seconds in — when the beat drops and the hook opens up the song — I kind of raised an eyebrow, because the voice sounded slightly familiar. It sounded like Future, who I’m not particularly a fan of. Nonetheless, the production was crazy, the wordplay was clever and I was definitely vibing out. I’d run the song back a few more times, before deciding I actually liked it.
I told a few of my friends — who are Future loyalists — about “Panda” and it was funny because after one listen, they were like “Yo! This is dope! This some new Future?” And I’m like “Nah. It’s some kid out of New York named Desiigner.” They immediately dismissed it. Despite previously praising the song, they’d say stuff like “What?! This ain’t Future?! Who is this clown?!” Again, I thought it was pretty damn funny.
A few months later, we would all learn that the 19 year-old emcee was the newest signee to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, and this would create more intrigue than ever, as people wanted to know who this kid was and why he was good enough to get Kanye’s blessing. “Panda” went from having a couple of thousand plays to nearly a couple million, and you kind of have to believe that a great deal of those listens came from people who were like “Wait. He’s signed to Kanye and he sounds like Future? I gotta hear this.”
Desiigner became blazing hot, landing on Kanye’s The Life of Pablo album (twice), scoring a number one single, and even making the cover of this year’s ‘Freshman’ edition of XXL. But somewhere along the way, the general public — especially those who pledged their allegiance to #FutureHive — would decide that Desiigner was the archenemy of Future, and every chance they got, they were at his neck. He kind of became a joke to people and it reminded me a lot of when Young Thug first came out and everybody hated him for sounding like Lil Wayne.But here’s my thing.
Why all the hate? I mean, I get not liking his music (although that’s kind of weird because, if he “sounds like Future” and you like Future, then… I think you see where I’m going, but whatever), but people talk about Desiigner like he’s the first artist to ever sound like another artist. We love The Weeknd. He sounds like Michael Jackson. Remember Shyne? He sounded like Biggie, but did that stop us from playing “Bad Boyz”? Some guy named Kendrick Lamar once put out a mixtape called C4 and the Lil Wayne influence was crazy. Even Future. At one point in time, he sounded like Juvenile. Now, all of the aforementioned artists have evolved into their own successful entities, but that’s my point. Desiigner is young, very new to the game, and probably still in the midst of finding himself as an artist. The kid is nowhere near developed, but people go at his throat like he’s been in the game ten years.
Furthermore, Desiigner is 19 years old! 19 years old, signed to Kanye West and the proud architect of a number one single. He’s living his dream. If you’re one of those who goes out of their way to talk down on him, ask yourself what you were doing at 19. Living in a cramped ass dorm, on a ramen noodle diet, because you were a broke college student? Living in your mom’s basement? You weren’t signed to Kanye West! At 19, this kid can pay for school and probably get the wheels turning on buying his mom a new house. What is there to hate?
It’s even more annoying when I see older people hating. 40+ years old and still don’t know what they wanna be when they grow up, but fixing their faces to talk down on a kid? That’s weird. If anything people should be happy, granted that we’re in a time where black boys are catching cases and throwing their lives away or even worse being killed by the police. This kid is on a positive wave, living life, doing what he loves and supporting his family. If you don’t like his music, cool. But don’t knock his come up.
But really none of this matters. Because in a few months, you will all be Desiigner fans, just like you all became Young Thug fans. I’ve seen this movie before. Desiigner is Hip-Hop’s guilty pleasure. You don’t want people to know you like him — especially since they all like Future — but you do. You’re a fan. Just embrace it. It’s cool. And guess what? You can still like Future too.
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