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Desiigner, the future of rap

 

At the age of just
19, rapper Desiigner has achieved overnight fame after coming under the aegis of Kanye West. Signed to the
star’s G.O.O.D. Music label, the young prodigy is currently working on his greatly anticipated first album.

Desiigner photographed by Danielle Levitt.

It’s a muggy, late-summer afternoon and Desiigner is gamely making his signature grimaces for the camera. Outside the Lower East Side studio where he’s getting his picture taken, a scrum of young kids from the neighbourhood patiently wait their chance to catch a glimpse of the 19-year-old rapper and maybe take a selfie with the hometown hero. It’s incredible to think that a mere eight months ago, Desiigner − born Sidney Royel Selby III − was no different from them, just another city kid with big dreams growing up in Bed Stuy, the same Brooklyn neighbourhood that was home to hip-hop legends like Biggie and Jay Z. Now he’s Kanye’s newest protégé and has signed to the megastar’s G.O.O.D. Music label; he’s got a no. 1 single and song of the summer on his hands with Panda (and a second success, Tiimmy Turner, to prove he’s no one-hit wonder); and he’s working on finishing his début studio album, titled Life of Desiigner, though he refuses to confirm any details. He’s even caught the eye of the fashion industry: Vogue named him “Best Dressed Man” at MTV’s Video Music Awards this year for the blushpink Maison Margiela suit he wore sans dress shirt and accessorized with numerous gold chains.

“Everything is moving so fast,” Desiigner says. “It’s crazy!” In many ways, the same could be said of the young artist’s rapid-fire, occasionally indecipherable − yet no less impressive − flow. During our conversation, Desiigner seamlessly transitions from straightforward answers to rhythmic oratories that sound more like rap freestyles than responses to interview questions. It’s clear he possesses an innate talent for musical form and an ear for beats, rhythm and structure. “All my life I’ve been doing this,” he says. “When I was young, my pops gave me a rhyming dictionary. I used to sit down and spit mad fast and just rhyme every word. This is my talent.” Witnessing this raw, unvarnished talent in person is enough to convince you that criticism of Desiigner − that his slurring flow and husky bass voice are too similar to that of Future and other Atlanta rappers − is nonsense. While every young artist is going to be inspired, consciously or not, by other artists that came before him or her, you can’t fault someone for the way their voice naturally sounds, particularly someone as talented and promising as Desiigner. Besides, when you have one of the most influential hip-hop artists in a generation championing your music, there’s perhaps no better seal of approval or stamp of authenticity.

Recalling the first time he met Kanye West − in a car parked out- side LAX airport − Desiigner describes the wisdom the megastar passed along and how his own ambitions have begun to mirror those of his famous mentor. “[Kanye] was saying that we’re not rappers, we’re artists,” he recalls. “And that was something that I always dreamed of and see myself as.” More specifically, and more immediately, Desiigner says he dreams of performing “in front of millions of fans” and of recording an album that “makes you feel every type of emotion.” So far, he’s already mastered the ability to spark joy and excitement in his fans. His nonstop energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and even critics aren’t immune. “Kill them with kindness,” Desiigner says of his approach to dealing with haters. “If you’re sitting there and I’m dancing and wilding out, you’re like, ‘I can’t hate this dude! He’s sitting there having a good time!’” And so are all of us watching and listening.

 

The Life Of Desiigner, Desiigner (G.O.O.D. Music), available 2017.

 

By Abby Schreiber

Lana Del Rey, rough seas and butterflies in her new video for “Mariners Apartment Complex”
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Lana Del Rey, rough seas and butterflies in her new video for “Mariners Apartment Complex”

Music Over a year after the release of “Lust For Life”, Lana Del Rey is back with “Mariners Apartment Complex”, a searing guitar ballad accompanied by a vintage-look black and white video directed by her sister. Over a year after the release of “Lust For Life”, Lana Del Rey is back with “Mariners Apartment Complex”, a searing guitar ballad accompanied by a vintage-look black and white video directed by her sister.

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Meeting with The Blaze, the duo that shines French electro abroad

Music After only a few tracks and just a couple of arthouse videos, French twosome The Blaze are being touted as the next big thing on the electro scene. Ahead of the release of their first album, the haunting Dancehall, cousins Guillaume and Jonathan, a generally shy and discreet duo, agreed to discuss their work with Numéro. After only a few tracks and just a couple of arthouse videos, French twosome The Blaze are being touted as the next big thing on the electro scene. Ahead of the release of their first album, the haunting Dancehall, cousins Guillaume and Jonathan, a generally shy and discreet duo, agreed to discuss their work with Numéro.

Meet Kiddy Smile, the queer herald of our times
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Meet Kiddy Smile, the queer herald of our times

Music The DJ, singer and voguing star set the Élysée Palace on fire last June. Now he’s getting ready to conquer the world with a first album, caught between flamboyant house and a queer pop hymn. A future legend who lent himself to a fashion shoot for Numéro. The DJ, singer and voguing star set the Élysée Palace on fire last June. Now he’s getting ready to conquer the world with a first album, caught between flamboyant house and a queer pop hymn. A future legend who lent himself to a fashion shoot for Numéro.

Christine & the Queens as an S&M prostitute in her new video for “5 dollars”
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Christine & the Queens as an S&M prostitute in her new video for “5 dollars”

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Music Catapulted to fame after being spotted by Drake and Kendrick Lamar, Jorja Smith is hot property right now. Barely 21, the young British singer has just released her first album, Lost & Found, a mature, assured début that is the sign of greatness to come. Catapulted to fame after being spotted by Drake and Kendrick Lamar, Jorja Smith is hot property right now. Barely 21, the young British singer has just released her first album, Lost & Found, a mature, assured début that is the sign of greatness to come.

Who is Brooke Candy, the indomitable trash and neofeminist rapper?
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Who is Brooke Candy, the indomitable trash and neofeminist rapper?

Music Provocative and ultra-sexy, former strip-teaser Brooke Candy is kicking neo-feminist pazazz into the misogynist, macho worlds of rap and hip hop. Provocative and ultra-sexy, former strip-teaser Brooke Candy is kicking neo-feminist pazazz into the misogynist, macho worlds of rap and hip hop.