Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Desiigner - New English Review

More is said in the two words of the title than in the entirety of Desiigner's debut mixtape. Lyrically empty bars aren't anything new in the Trap game, but New English posits an interesting theory that the genre, and Desiigner, its newest boy wonder, have taken part in a significant alteration of language and how the English dialect is spoken. An expert linguist could dissect this mixtape and find copious amounts of evidence to the fact that language, especially for the youngest generation, is moving faster than ever. To elders, and everyone really, Desiigner is, at times, largely indecipherable. A coded, gnarled, misshapen vernacular that efforts an intense focus on flow, to the point where the voice becomes an instrument, words a mere secondary factor that has little influence. It didn't matter what Desiigner said on the ludicrously stylized 'Panda,' what did was the gusto, the bravado, the inherent patterns in guttural noises that produced a fiery chart-topping single of almost utter nonsense. Fans of Desiigner's style will certainly find value in New English, and while there's significant problems that hinder its overall appeal, it does mark a decisive shift in Trap, something that seems to be happening triannually now.

There's a couple statements regarding the 19-year-old Brooklyn native that, when spoken, dangerously approach satire. One is his fame driven almost entirely by Kanye West thanks to his odd appearance on The Life Of Pablo and two, the uncanny resemblance to Future. I'm in the boat of thinking both these statements are true. An NYC teen who created a single Trap song with no credible experience behind that should not have graced radios across the world, but with Hip-Hop's most illustrious co-sign and a sound that amps Future's lazy flow to treacherously energetic levels, along with unrestrained charisma that matched social media's sporadic chaos, Desiigner became more than just another rapper. Surprisingly, New English proves both sides of the coin, that yes, 'Panda' is unquestionably the best song here, but also there's some untapped potential to be found. I say untapped, because while the ideas are expressed, they're done in such a poor and incomplete way that you can't help but feel they could be utilized better. 'Monstas & Villains' is a 37-second snippet, while 'Caliber' and 'Shooters' cut off mid-sentence. Sloppy work to say the least.

Another issue glaringly displayed over New English is its track listing and erroneous sequencing. Partly because of horrendous mixing issues, the first half of the mixtape soars by without hitting cruise control, causing the first half, in which nine songs encompass just 15 minutes, to flash by while the second half drags, showing obvious fatigue. You can see the exhaustion visibly, as tracks like 'Overnight' and 'Zombie Walk' are slower and more in tune with Future's syrup-laced Trap, the fact that all features (biggest prize going to Pusha T on 'Jet') happen here too proves this more. The only segments to halt Desiigner's speeding on the first half are the interludes. Composed of victorian era strings seemingly plucked from a twisted Disney tale, these flashes of the past help to drive home the distance we've covered with our language; old English has become new English, the admiration of what came before overshadowed by juvenile madness. Nowhere will you find such absurd discrepancies, as GOOD Music has certainly already shed its mark on its latest signee. From the disjointed, careless structuring to the impromptu shifts in genre, New English fits snugly in the record label's shift into unorthodox Hip-Hop.

Musically speaking, there are some high marks here. I'll ignore 'Panda,' a deliberate add-on that's been discussed to death, but apart from his notorious single 'Make It Out' takes the cake as best song. Whereas most of New English dives into autotune, 'Make It Out' launches Desiigner into grizzled Street Rap, with unparalleled energy, driven mostly by his voice alone. The chorus is powerful and incredibly feral, with a head-spinning amount of pent-up aggression and vigor. 'Overnight,' despite sounding derivative of Future, tied in this regard with 'Roll Wit Me,' features a melodic tongue-rolling chorus that seeps in the trenches of ATL's nightlife, despite its curator originating a thousand miles away. As you can see, much of New English's acclaim rides on the hooks, a clear strong suit for the Brooklyn spitter. With merit too, as they're often times catchy, provocative, and senseless fun, his now-viral 'freestyle' for XXL, the latest in a string of high-quality earworms. This also means his verses are lacking, which is an understatement. Due in large part to the nonsensical dabbling's, small part to the redundant Rap tropes, Desiigner, I feel, will be seen as more of a hook savant than rapper. By no coincidence similar to his idol Future.

While one can talk up and down about New English and what it means for Desiigner, the answer is not all that much. 'Panda' is still his crowning jewel, as everyone should've expected, and the music found inside isn't swaying one way or the other to his mark on the genre. At the end of the day, he's a Trap artist with a gimmick, like every other noted one in today's age. Young Thug's voice, Lil Yachty's weirdness, Future's cadence. Now Desiigner's energy, certainly unmatched by anyone in Hip-Hop today. Much like his predecessors, there's beacons of hope to find in a sea of clutter, the fact that New English is only 37 minutes is a gigantic relief. 'Zombie Walk,' supposedly the next single, judging by Desiigner's announcement it'll receive a music video, not a good sign for extending his longevity for those outside of the Trap scene. Others would've been better suited for the role, but directionless as New English comes, Desiigner's just a kid working to find his niche, slip-ups are bound to happen.

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