Mixtape Review

Inventing a ‘New English’ With Desiigner

Future drops a mixtape every other month, and to be a true Young Thug fan requires investing in multiple hard drives–his released music is in the thousands. Quantity versus quality can be debated here, but this volume produces a dispensability to the music being created. This makes Desiigner quite the contrast. A bonafide one-hit superstar, Desiigner rocketed to the top of the charts with his debut single, “Panda”.

Instantly labeled a Future clone, and without a discography, Desiigner’s uniqueness hinged on his unusual rise. His lack of music became a part of his identity, especially in contrast to Future’s wealth of mixtapes. New English is both an introduction and a proving ground for Desiigner.

His debut mixtape doesn’t offer definitive answers. New English is a sporadic array of high-octane energy and unintelligible gibberish. Some are extensions of his “Panda” sound, others are more experimental–all feature plenty of ad-libs.

Tracks like “Caliber” or “Roll Wit Me” certainly won’t help shake comparisons to Future or damper complaints that he’s a one-trick pony, but at this point, it might work to his advantage. While Future continues to pump out countless projects–almost effortlessly, New English fills the same quench, but with a sense of urgency.

Desiigner sounds like he’s trying really hard here. He raps as if the English language is too slow for his tongue. As weird as it may seem, especially in a genre that promotes posturing, it translates to a sense of authenticity–or at least relatability.

It’s not a surprise. One of the few things we’ve seen of the Brooklyn rapper is his insistent eagerness, whether it’s his animated expressions or his constant dabbing. Desiigner may not be bringing anything fresh from a technical or stylistic perspective, but his small library of songs and genuine passion provide a sufficient hook for the audience.

And once the hook is established, it’s a nonstop ride. Songs on New English are often short and explosive, jumping from one to the other without transition. The lyrics are difficult to parse through–often trivial next to the raw energy and emotions.

They play out as a blur of anthems, only broken up by the occasional serene interlude. His liveliness seems to know no limits, and it’s certainly infectious, but a narrative with only car chases and explosions make for shallow work. “Shooters”, “Talk Regardless”, “Zombie Walk”–all mindless fun, but not much else.

There are a few exceptions: “Make It Out” demonstrates an aggressive, DMX-lite Desiigner, and the brief “Monstas & Villains” shows promise. On the flip side, “Overnight” offers a more laid-back, but nicely structured, ode to his sudden success. Desiigner’s enthusiasm is no doubt a useful tool, but it’s only effective when directed in the proper way. It’s not surprising to find some of his better tracks, “Jet” and “Da Day”, require a feature to offset Desiigner’s own indiscriminate energy.

As a demonstration of skill and distinction, New English is a wash. Good ideas and new sounds are drowned out by repetitive bangers that struggle to outshine each other. The Southern trap subgenre is just too crowded for New English-quality to stand out. With “Panda” waning in popularity, Desiigner will either need to single out another mega-hit–“Timmy Turner” is promising, or flesh out his sound and image. Otherwise, Desiigner might be heading down the same path as his favorite black and white bear.