“I got broads in Atlanta, blah blah bluh blah blah da jamma…” And whatever else he said. Those are some lyrics from Desiigner’s new single Panda. And this is where we are in hip hop now – experimenting with various and often unorthodox melodies, spitting inaudible lyrics, and more often than not, adopting another region or artist’s sound, or as the kids call it, riding someone’s wave. This is the case for Brooklyn rapper, Desiigner. Yes, Brooklyn rapper. Not Atlanta. For years New York rappers prided themselves on being original. They were the models and architects of early hip hop, and even rappers from other parts of the country that were influenced by them made hip hop uniquely their own, but in today’s world originality isn’t valued as much as being a really good carbon copy.
It seems as though no one truly knows the direction that music is taking. Ten years ago who would’ve ever thought the south would still have great influence over the sound of hip hop. The Internet has played a major role in the South’s staying power, too. It has also helped to democratize the music industry, by giving unknown artists the “world” as a platform to popularize music that normally wouldn’t get any radio spins. Today the Internet has become a main source in how we access music to the point that it dictates what we gravitate to sonically.
In the summer of 2014 now incarcerated Brooklyn rapper, Bobby Shmurda released Hot N*gga, a song laden with graphic lyrics and murderous exploits of Brooklyn street life. It carried with it a beat that was so catchy it desensitized you from its grim reality. Hot N*gga had New York on fire. In bars, in barbershops, blasting from cracked windows onto Brooklyn streets in the summer; young kids, women, to men in there 40’s were doing the Shmoney dance. It was as though the city of New York finally had something they could be proud of. Besides the local slang, sonically, Hot N*gga was another branch in the larger foliage of trap music – Atlanta music. Radio airwaves in the past 10 or so years have been so inundated with the same sound that it comes to no surprise that people’s fondness of Hot N*gga was probably grown more out of familiarity.
Hot N*gga is very telling about New York and how they’ve had to adapt to what’s popular even if it calls for them to be less New York and more south, or more west coast. Unfortunately in late 2014, New York authorities felt that Shmurda’s lyrics about what he’d allegedly done in the streets were all too real, and his GS9 crew was arrested on a list of charges ranging from conspiracy to murder. GS9 members were apprehended at a Manhattan recording studio, and taken out in chains in front of a bevy of flashing news cameras in a very public display of, “We’re gonna make examples out of these hooligans,” media circus. And for a while after that New York was relatively silent.
Democratizing the music industry has had its upsides, like artists being able to be successful without a record label, but it’s also had its downsides like, anything unworthy becoming the latest trends, and music listeners becoming agnostic to what quality music is, opting to be zombies to whatever is “hot.” And nowadays the word quality is relative. One thing that’s for sure is that because the Internet is so vast and serves as a source of incalculable information, you don’t have to come up with anything yourself you can just get all your creativity from the Internet. So, anyone can become someone else’s clone. As a result of this, the Future trend of hip hop music is Desiigner.
Desiigner is New York’s new wave. His first single, Panda, was re-released on iTunes this February to many comparisons to Atlanta rapper and mumbling-crooner, Future Hendrix. In fact, Desiigner sounds more like Future than Future. When I heard Panda for the first time I thought I was nodding my head to a new song on a Freebandz mixtape. Interestingly enough, people didn’t seem to care much that Future was being cloned, which means that if an artist can outright clone another artist’s sound without much of an uproar then that sound was probably always microwaved for mass production. This is great for an up and comer like Desiigner, but terrible for Future. Because anyone can mimic that sound, it doesn’t matter who does it as long as it sounds familiar.
This truth creates a cozy space for an artist like Desiigner, who is signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music. Currently, Panda is the number one single in the country, a feat that Future has yet to accomplish. Although it’s important to note that Future’s Dirty Sprite 2 recently went platinum, the Desiigner wave continues to grow. Desiigner is in the lab now working on his first studio album, Life of Desiigner, which is alleged to be executive produced by Grammy-Award winning producer Mike Dean. Dean is no slouch, as he has produced albums for Kanye West including, Late Registration, Graduation, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
If Desiigner makes a good album it means a couple of things…
- The Future comparisons won’t even matter anymore.
- And New York finally has someone, to the world’s surprise, who can actually restore the feeling.
For my Air Force 1 wearing, durag rocking, throwback jersey New Yorkers, restoring the feeling may not look like we expected. Riding the wave of Atlanta seems to be the answer. If Desiigner plays his cards right he’ll milk this game for every single dime that it’s worth until his wave surfaces. At that point, by happenstance or some miracle, the New York resurgence can possibly open the door to some New York originality.
Listen to Panda – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5ONTXHS2mM
© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2016
Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group