It’s rare for a rapper’s debut single to jump to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and while Desiigner’s “Panda” soared to massive heights after being sampled on Kanye’s “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2,” it takes more than a hot single to cement your name among rap’s next generation.
With these great expectations on his shoulders, Desiigner has delivered his debut mixtape, New English. While no one really knew what to expect from the young New York rapper, New English is in no way a surprising release from the Panda man—and that’s not a bad thing.
After a cinematic intro, the tape kicks off with “Caliber.” This track has all of the expected components of the trap-rap genre, complete with auto-tuned mumbles, rolling drums and all around in-your-face production. For the majority of New English, this is the sound that Desiigner sticks with and thrives off of. In most cases, the trap sound could get repetitive after a few tracks, but Desiigner avoids this lull with his energetic presence on every song. The beats on this mixtape are all solid, which isn’t a surprise considering GOOD Music’s elite roster of in-house producers. Outside of the GOOD producers, though, the likes of NickFRSH, YsOnnaTrack, and Menace create a flame out of Desiigner’s natural spark.
There’s no doubt that the Future comparisons will persist after hearing New
English, as Desiigner’s vocals can sound all-too-similar to Future, especially when he’s auto-tuned on tracks like “Overnight.” However, Desiigner’s own inflections also shine at some points. On “Make It Out,” he switches up his voice into a more menacing garble; he picks up the pace of his flow and it pays off.
Desiigner’s biggest distinguishing factor remains his unmatched bursts of energy, even though they are often short lived. “Monstas & Villains” is the mixtape’s most exciting track but lasts only 40 seconds. It seems like Desiigner included these seemingly unfinished songs to tease that there’s more to come on his forthcoming debut album, and if he can continue to deliver this mic-throwing level of energy, maybe he will be able to find his own lane.
At large, New English serves as another landmark for the trap side of current hip-hop. Once again, it brings the “do lyrics still matter?” discussion to light. It’s tailor-made for the Rap Genius era, enticing confused listeners to look up the lyrics they probably did not catch on first listen (I swear the only words I understood on “Talk Regardless” were “talk regardless”) and determine whether or not Desiigner is actually saying anything substantial. And while it’s only one mixtape, New English demonstrates that Desiigner knows how to excite and win over a listener’s attention.
On a recent Reddit discussion thread about New English, someone compared the mixtape to eating desert before dinner. It’s an apt analogy; Desiigner isn’t trying to give us a nutritious, well-balanced meal here. Instead, New English gets right to what you’ve been expecting and ends just as soon as you’ve had enough.