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Holy Shit, Maybe Desiigner Is Great?

Getty Images
Getty Images

Ever since we learned about Desiigner, he’s been over a barrel. The 19-year-old Brooklyn MC and GOOD Music signee was thrust into the spotlight four months ago, when we first heard “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2” boom over the speakers at MSG, which was really just Desiigner’s lone YouTube single, “Panda,” plus a few sparse, Auto-Tuned Kanye West bars. But it sounded like such a Future pastiche that everyone was bigging up the Atlanta rap impresario for capping off a banner year by landing a feature on a Kanye album.

“Panda” took on a life of its own after that, eventually becoming the no. 1 single in the country (which the Hive had a religious objection to). Something was cosmically unjust about a Future clone that didn’t spend enough time in his first petri dish (and zero time in Atlanta) topping the Billboard Hot 100 (before Future) with a song that had really only one verse. It felt like Grey Goose was being outsold by any of those store-brand, bottom-shelf vodkas that come in a plastic handle. But bottom-shelf vodka still gets you drunk, and “Panda” still makes you want to jump off of couches and break things.

On top of that, the music video — which sadly contains no actual pandas in Cuban-link chains — was incredible: a too-close view of a harrowing joyride with Desiigner’s boss’s boss’s boss, Kanye West. It grabs you, makes you sit down and appreciate how fucking fun this song is.

I sent it to everyone I cared about within an hour of its dropping, varying forms of the same mild suggestion attached: Maybe we should let Desiigner cook??? And after seeing his recent XXL Freshman Freestyle, that suggestion may have just hardened into a demand.

First off, these XXL Freshman Freestyles are usually pretty cheeks. They’re done a cappella and often come out stilted and awkward, if not outright bad. (Pour some out for OJ Da Juiceman, who’s scarcely been heard from since we learned that he had “two rangs on like a basketball plair.”) The only ones that aren’t catastrophic failures are the ones that were obviously prepared beforehand, like Chance the Rapper’s bars about talking to God in public, or like Desiigner singing a half-baked elegy about “Timmy Turner wishing for a burner so he could kill everybody walkin’.”

Guys. Guys. The Desiigner freestyle is, like, one 45-second hook with five other mini-hooks crammed into it, references Fairly Odd Parents and BET, and (if you’ll allow me to reach to the outermost bounds of the known universe) sounds vaguely like a Fela Kuti praise break. It’s good. Very good.

2 Chainz saved Kanye West’s superpowered posse cut “Champions,” but Desiigner had a hand in it, too. After Big Sean’s NyQuil bars about buying some tryst a Honda CRX straight cash, Desiigner pops in for a short, cascading mini-bridge that perfectly tees up the next verse — “Round and round it go, round and round it go, I’d rather be strapped and ride with a pole than to get down in a hole.” I confess to having next to no clue what that means, but somehow, it enhances the ensuing image of 2 Chainz taking a nap in a pulpit.

You can still poke fun at Desiigner’s warbled short-recoil-machine-gun bars — he’s still thoroughly unconvincing as a rapper. But his knack for melody is becoming kind of hard to ignore. So whatever, you know? Let Desiigner cook.