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Desiigner is back like he’s never left. The Brooklyn, New York rapper exploded onto the rap scene with his 2015 debut single, “Panda,” which became an instant viral hit. The record not only ascended to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, but it introduced audiences to an artist they’ve never encountered.
The former G.O.O.D. Music rapper gained much recognition for his insane spitfire flow and unmatched high energy. Not too long after the song dropped, music lovers around the world were quoting the first line in the song: “I got broads in Atlanta…”
The 23-year-old most recently dropped his new single “SURVIVOR” aptly inspired by quarantine and the COVID-19 pandemic. The song sees him channeling his own life battles. In a world where society is so quick to be negative, Desiigner spreads positivity and hope — reminding the masses that they too will survive any hardship.
REVOLT caught up with the rapper to chat about his music, remaining positive through these times, and more. Read below.
How have you been holding up during quarantine?
Everything’s been good, really been holding it down. Really focusing on myself, really building my self-character. Hold it down until it rolls over. I’m not trying to worry about too much. Like I said in the record, “I ain’t worried ‘bout a thing.” This is the time to build within everybody. Focus on yourself, stay healthy, stay safe. You dig? There’s more to life than what we’re doing.
Have you picked up new hobbies or interests?
I got me a game, “Assassin’s Creed.” I’ve been tapping into “Assassin’s Creed” recently. Really trying to broaden my mind, get smarter. Tap into myself, meditation. Being in the studio, you know the vibes. Creativity’s always roaming. We’re going to cook up. Different situations that keep me straight.
Bring us back to the studio session for “Survivor.” What were you going through?
I was in the studio that night, me and my boy Melly. I didn’t know what else to write. There was really nothing else to write, but what was going on at the time. It all hit us. I wanted to go in there and tell that story. When I came back home, I had just the hook and verse. I let my girl Zana and everybody else on the team hear it. She’s like, “Yo man, go hard on that s**t. Tell everything that you see.”
I wound up really going in the world. Going around, seeing what’s going up. It’s different. Malls are empty, s**t’s crazy. I am seeing merry-go-rounds that are dead, that s**t looks different. Really trying to experience what’s going on outside of what I’m used to. Everybody’s in the crib, they’re panicking because they don’t know what to do. It’s such a different change, but I want everybody to be cool. Don’t tweak out about anything, stay in yourself, Learn yourself more. A lot of things in the future are going to change.
You say, “They try to divide us like Biggie and Pac.” Can you expand on that?
They’re literally trying to divide the spirit. The situation of starting from the bottom, trying to keep people away from each other. This is a time where you still need to be close to your people, next to your people but in a social distancing way. Making sure we all work and unite together…
The video hit a million in a month. How does that make you feel?
It’s going up. We passed a million streams ultimately. We got almost 200K on the regular audio, we got a million on the video right now. It’s going crazy. The thumbnail is ultra. I only got 1,000 thumbs down; 73,000 thumbs up. Everybody’s loving it. A lot of people are appreciating it and taking the message as I want them to.
You’re at Whole Foods, you’re at Target. Whose idea was it to shoot at these locations?
It came to life because of the team. Shout out to Zana Ray tapping into the natives of the city, so we could understand certain areas. We’re going to Whole Foods, seeing that s**t was like crazy. Real life s**t, it’s really going on. You can go anywhere nowadays, you see people in lines outside. It’s different.
What’s the metaphor behind the urgent care facility in the video?
People being tested, people checking up on themselves. I was trying to get in that body of a person going through it. People who went through that situation, went to urgent care seeing they’re getting any type of symptoms. I made myself that type of character in that scene to get the message through.
Being shot at age 14, do you have any type of trauma?
Aw man, I don’t suffer from any trauma. That s**t made me stronger. No cap, it definitely made me stronger. It made me wiser, it made me pick my decisions more carefully. Knowing where I want to go and understanding how I want to move in life, it’s way more sharper now. After that happened, everyone still made left and right turns, but I was more on point for staying alive. Being more on point with my career and situations. Being shot was a boost of motivation for sure. I didn’t want to see my moms and everybody upset because of the situation. I didn’t like that feeling.
What are your thoughts on this “new normal”? How do you stay positive during these times?
Just being in myself. I zone out of time. Time passes so quickly when you’re meditating and figuring out who you are… I use this time wisely. Even when I was alone in the projects, in the slums. Nobody’s walking past me, you had to stick to yourself and get yourself through these times. It’s an inner feeling, I know everything’s going to be okay. I want everybody to have that confidence of knowing it’s for you too because we’re all built the same. You can’t be worried about it for real. You need to figure out who you are.
Things you’re doing every day, is that what you want to continue? The life that everybody wants to get out to — when everybody rushes out the doors, it won’t be the same. It’s not going to be the same socialization, everybody can’t be that close. It’s dope for me, I’m loving the vibrations. I’m loving everything that comes around, the world’s for you to enjoy. Enjoying the sun, enjoying the vibes in my backyard. For all my homies in the slums, you don’t have to be in the slums. You can get out anytime. Go by the water, be in your meditation zone. Build your character. It’s going to be better for all of us.
A portion of proceeds from “SURVIVOR” is going toward a Coronavirus relief fund that benefits healthcare workers and displaced families. Why is it important for you to give back?
Definitely, it’s a lot of people on that frontline risking their life every day. A whole bunch of situations going on, we want to make sure everyone’s protected. For the people who are really out there in the urgent care room, workers on the frontline putting down the work, it’s only right to help them out through this time.
Talk about teaming up with Mouth Masker, a small business in Anaheim, to create your own mask.
They’re upcoming. Everybody had to be that person coming up. They’re definitely honored to be in a situation. Let’s make a move, we can join it up and give back.
How’d you celebrate your 23rd birthday in Malibu?
We turned up. We went over there by the water in Malibu — first time playing beer pong in my whole life (laughs). It was crazy… I was out there with my boy Bobby, he brought me out there by the water. We’re chillin’, had some salmon. Ate by the water. Enjoy life every day. I didn’t have a party this year, but L.A. was crazy last year… This year, [I] was waking up to myself, embracing life for what it was.
You were 17 when “Panda” was released. How have you evolved?
I’m more comfortable within my skin for sure. More comfortable with myself, not really worried about too much. I’ve always been that kid with the drive. It was a lot of excitement because everything’s coming brand new and fresh. As expected, you’re going to feel that rush. As time went, I felt more comfortable with myself.
What are your current goals?
Stay sharper, tune [in]to myself. Zone into myself. A lot of things with fashion. I want to put things in clothing, put things in movies. I might have some quarantine films coming out real soon, all types of stuff. Anything that I believe, if I want to do it, I get it done every time.
What can we expect music-wise?
I’m about to drop some new music, it’s about to be crazy lit. Turn up. For all the fans, I love you all. From overseas, everywhere, man. If you’re in the house quarantined, you’re going to have some Desiigner music to bop to real soon.
You’re independent now. How’s that going?
It’s amazing. I’m able to feed my fans as much as possible. That’s what it’s about, feeding them and really getting it out there. Being able to introduce myself to other parts of the world at any second — any moment. I’m definitely with it.