Rapper Desiigner is made waves in the music industry with his breakout hit,Panda. In a few short months the twenty year old Brooklyn native has become a polarizing figure for the aesthetic similarities to veteran rapper.
The comparisons were inevitable, however when Desiigner first came out the differences between his sound and future’s were evident. But then I heard Desiigner’s follow up single “What I’ma do today” on the radio a couple of days ago. And holy shit it’s like the guy wasn’t even trying to sound like anyone other than Future. If you don’t believe me listen to Desiiner’s single and compare it to Future.
Coming to the conclusion that the hottest new rapper in Hip Hop is a shameless copycat is a frustrating statement on the current state of Hip Hop. How does a kid from Brooklyn doing his best impersonation of Future, down to the faux-twang and everything, make a song that features the word “Atlanta” prominently and not only do people not call him on his shit, but it actually charts higher than anything Future ever put out?
Then I thought about it and it came to me. A blatant biter topping hip-hop’s charts, isn’t a new shocking development because hip-hop has been building up to this for the past decade or so. Historically, hip hop is an art form where creative people take something that’s already been done, sample it, and turn it into something all their own. The first Rap song to garner widespread radio play was “Rapper’s delight” by the Sugarhill gangwhich samples Chic’s “Good Times.” Hip hop has always worn its influences on its sleeves that way.
But lately, however we’ve seen a string of artists who have outright jacked other people’s style. Swag stealing and outright being a buster is what’s poppin in the streets these days. So let’s look at the artists who paved the way for the fundamental fallacy that is Desiigner’s career and the people they stole their swag from.
who she bit: Lil Kim.
Nicki Minaj is a lot like Desiigner in that, like the gravelly voiced Brooklynite she didn’t even try to be original. She took her entire persona, her look, the content of her raps and some of her style directly from Lil Kim with zero discretion or shame when she first came out.
In a way it’s hard to blame Nicki for surfing on Lil Kim’s wave, especially given the number of parallels that exist between them both personally and professionally. Both women hail from inner-city boroughs in New York City, both were known early in their careers as protegees of the preeminent rappers of their time, but what was more obvious, and important was that Nicki borrowed from Kim’s style combining a cute and colorful appearance with defiantly raunchy lyrics and a gritty, in-your-face delivery. When she was in her prime Lil Kim was the highest selling female rapper in history so who could blame Nicki Minaj for latching on to her formula. Of course Nicki surpassed Kim in record sales.
Lil Kim’s influence on Nicki Minaj may seem undeniable, however the two have feuded over the fact that Kim feels like Nicki copied her style, which seems fair enough seeing as, well she did. The two have traded multiple barbs at each other since.
It’s tough to say who won this beef seeing as Lil Kim’s career is completely in the shitter and Nicki Minaj is engaged to Meek Mill. It seems like everybody involved in this scenario is the loser.
who he bit: Ghostface Killa
I mean goddamn, Action Bronson sounds so much like Ghostface that The Ironman famously commented that the first time he ever heard Action Bronson he mistook him for himself.
Although Action’s inflections and delivery closely mirror those of Ghostface’s and his lyrics are every bit as whimsical, ghost talks about 70s soul albums, old comic books and cocaine dealing while Action Bronson talks about old movies, cooking and weed. Big difference right?
Ghost was on board with Action initially however Action must have been tired of being compared to the legendary Ghost and lash out a little bit. Ghost responded in this now legendary, and fucking hilarious video in which he repeatedly threatens the Albanian Chef-turned- rapper.
The two eventually squashed their beef. Ghost went back to listening to soul albums and wearing bathrobes and Bronson went back to eating exotic foods (no really).
The fact that Action Bronson sounds an awful lot like Ghostface is undeniable though.
who he bit: Everybody
I won’t lie, Travis Scott is a pretty good (but definitely not great) hip-hop producer, but I’ve been listening to his songs trying to pin down exactly who he sounds like in terms of vocals and I’ve came to the conclusion that he sounds like everybody and nobody at the same time.
Scott isn’t shy about telling people how much he admires Kanye West and Kid Cudi, and he also is unabashed in how much of their musical sensibilities he inserts into his music. In any given song the guy could sound like his idols Ye or Cudi, or big Sean. I swore that the song “Waves” he did with Miguel was a Wale song.
It’s one thing to have an influence guiding the direction your art takes, it’s another thing to wholesale do impersonations of people while trying to pass yourself off as a unique artist. Scott’s efforts come off sounding particularly uninspired and, well, boring. If you’re going to be a biter at least be interesting like the guy below: