Two years ago, Desiigner was sitting at a friend’s house making songs with his friends when he discovered a crazy beat by then-unknown producer Menace. After “cooking it up” with his baritone-inflicted rhymes, he posted it on YouTube just to show off. A year later, it’s the No. 1 song in the country. That song is “Panda.” And Desiigner is now a breakout rap star with a huge co-sign from Kanye West.
Desiigner’s newfound fame was totally unexpected and is now a problem for the 19-year-old rap upstart.
“I can’t step outside my house now, everybody knows my face,” he tells Billboard. “I got to be more careful and more focused with my surroundings, because everybody wants to reach out to me, and I don’t know if it’s good or bad.”
According to Desiigner, whose real name is Sidney Selby, “Panda” was inspired by the white BMW X6’s grill, which makes the vehicle look like a panda. Much of the lyrics in the song was inspired by real-life experiences he says.
The song, which spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, has also sparked some controversy as well. Critics says that Desiigner sounds like Future on the track. Even Future Hendrix himself has taken a few snipes at him for using his rhyme flow.
“Nothing bothers me [about the criticism],” he says. “It’s my funk, it’s my style.”
Initially, Desiigner sought out to be a R&B singer, but of course, his music is now taking him on a new path. “I always saw myself using my voice. I was the ladies’ man,” he said. “I performed ‘My Girl’ in the cafeteria. I was David Ruffin in The Temptations. I sang for years. I used to sing in the subways. I didn’t see no other way out.”
Now with Yeezy guiding his music career (he recently signed with G.O.O.D. Music and featured him on The Life of Pablo), Desiigner feels he’s on his way to conquer the music game as a whole.
“The work ethic behind everything Kanye does is crazy,” he says. “It’s greatness. He told me, ‘We’re not just rappers, we’re artists.’”