Ladies and gentlemen, meet our new hottest star. He has fresh beats, a killer look, and best of all; he’s just like every artist you might have already heard of. The latest word is that the new golden boy in the rapping scene, Desiigner, is just another knock-off of another titan in the scene. Future, who is an Atlanta based rapper known for his particular style of auto-tuned singing and rapping, is being copied and instead of flattery, the two are often found defending their own ‘unique’ styles in the media. Is Desiigner being unoriginal or is he just taking shape of a problem already in place? As these questions pile up, a more prominent question becomes evident: Why has the popularity of Desiigner risen so much, even with current Atlanta trap rappers like Future popping up in the mainstream music scene?
Desiigner, the new Brooklyn artist topping the charts with his latest single, ‘Panda’, has been under fire by the press recently for being Future’s creative clone. There is no doubt about it. In addition to the similarities in sound, Desiigner’s latest single, “Pluto”, has the exact title as Future’s debut album. Then there are the smaller gags. Like when Desiigner teased us with the cover art for his latest mix using an image of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’, replacing Prince’s head with his own. A bit too narcissistic perhaps? Desiigner responded to accusations of being a wet copycat during an interview at SXSW by explaining that he is his own man. He knows he is “Desiigner”, but the similarities are just too undisguised. When asked about his Atlanta sound, Desiigner agreed, “It just sound like it sound” almost like a joke. “It’s a fact,” he repeated.
It might be possible that Desiigner is doing what other artists have been doing since the conception of hip hop and rap, just without subtlety and certainly without grace. Let us digest this for a second. So many songs are built around similar or borrowed flows. Usually, we strip down rap to just lyrics, often forgetting the rest of what’s on the plate – the use of vocabulary, context, the binding of syllables and rhyme. In this case, where lyrics aren’t really…understandable, we’re left to over analyze Desiigner’s use of flow which is oddly similar to Future’s. If there is one element that Future fans love, it is his use of flow; however, are fans being too quick to dismiss Future’s comment about his constant change in style? In an interview with The Fader last November, Future admitted, “Every record I do, I try to reinvent myself.” Who is to say that Future doesn’t steal his own inspiration from other artists as well? We have to ask ourselves, how easy is it to reinvent oneself from one record to the next with originality being a top priority? Influences from other like-minded and Atlanta based rappers are deeply embedded in Future’s own style as well. No? I encourage you to relisten to some of the hits from Migos, 21 savage, Young Scooter, Soulja Boy. It may not be as blunt as Desiigner’s style, but the similarities are there.
Artists shouldn’t be the only ones held accountable for creative similarities. It is no secret that music industry representatives are partly to blame. How often have up-and- coming artists been pressured to sound like the hottest trend current on the radio waves? Is Desiigner just putting a face to a growing problem in the industry? Unique ideas can be rare, but unique sound is always evolving and has arguably been present in different facets of rap and hip hop. We have already categorized west coast flow, east coast, the dirty south (ATL included). Rap has stood the test of time because it fights to go off the beaten path, away from the hottest trend. Standards begin to drop when artists are pressured for new material. They are encouraged to not redesign the wheel for the sake of time and money.
Desiigner remains popular because he is part of the trend. His endorsement from Kanye West definitely gives him that boost in support. Being featured in West’s latest, ‘Life of Pablo’, as well as being picked up by his label, G.O.O.D Music, couldn’t have been a bad thing for Desiigner either.
The more the industry neglects originality, the more listeners are going to settle. Audiences might argue that originality isn’t important anymore, just as long as the songs are coming from a similar place. The fact that Desiigner has been caught ‘stealing’ from other artists is irrelevant. Instead, the conversation should be, what is he going to do next? Desiigner isn’t the first artist to copy, he isn’t even the first to be caught with such a claim, but he is the first to be barbaric about it