February 21, 2017

maxresdefault

Jibril Yassin plays left wing for the Edmonton Oilers.

You probably didn’t know this, but Desiigner released a new song not too long ago. It’s called “Outlet.”  It’s meant to be a breakthrough for Desiigner, a fully formed manifesto. It comes with no hook; the closest thing we get are the horns that start it off before being submerged under layers of adlibs. Those ad-libs deserve mention: there are enough to officially designate this track as a major body of water, a Great Lake of Engineers Pulling Their Hair Out. There are beat changes, a verse conducted a capella, melodic yelps all swirling like a typhoon. There are bars about getting it back to the Tri-State and a start-and-stop flow that begs the question of whether or not Desiigner recorded this while dabbing inadvertently.

It’s a strange, Frankenstein’s monster of a track. It’s also the closest Desiigner has come to fashioning some sort of an identity. Turns out there’s some benefits to just letting Desiigner do what he wants: “Outlet” is a sonic mess, but at least there’s something alluring, something unusual about it. “Panda” is starting to feel like an outlier now, Future-clone criticisms aside. That’s not to say Desiigner succeeds at nullifying those comparisons, but the energy injected into “Outlet” is the first step toward forging something of his own (especially as Future continues with a more laconic delivery). 

And still, the product doesn’t quite match the promotional push. The problem isn’t all Desiigner. He’s an easy target for jokes, and it’s not as if he’s come out with anything remotely critic-proof. But since linking up with Kanye, Pusha T and Mike Dean, it’s arguable that he’s being stifled. Desiigner’s music has not been given the chance to breathe. “Panda” succeeded because it exuded menace just the way it was, the Kanye additions on “Part II” minimal. The hook from “Timmy Turner” had enough at its core before the melody was stuffed with an unnecessary beat change, faux-Travis Scott production, and sandwiched between tepid verses that failed to propel the song forward. The XXL Freestyle video was enough to convince that perhaps Desiigner had more than just “Panda” in him. New English, on the other hand, wasn’t.

The fumbling of Desiigner’s early work is indicative of G.O.O.D. Music’s larger struggles. Are we ever going to see Cruel Winter? The tepid reaction to last year’s “Champions” suggests otherwise, and Kanye’s recovery may have put the long-gestating album on ice. It’s a shame, but maybe a blessing in disguise. Do we really need Tyga and Desiigner rapping over volume-up-to-eleven Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight leftovers in 2017? “Outlet” is G.O.O.D’s latest attempt in catering to the street, but they’ve proven incapable of making bangers. Bangers are meant to be effortless, a far cry from G.O.O.D’s philosophy of operatic maximalism. One only needs to listen to the unnecessary “Don’t Like” remix for proof. The best parts of Cruel Summer (an album that came out almost five years ago) sailed by without making an impact the way Kanye and Co. wanted. “Mercy” is still a mesmerizing track, but its success largely had to do with its beat and its hook, 2 Chainz’ incendiary verse coming in a distant third. Do you remember hearing it on the Saint Pablo Tour? Do you remember how elated you felt hearing that only to see Kanye kibosh it after the hook to go straight into “All Day?”

Anyway, can’t we just lock Desiigner up in a studio for a few years–somewhere far away from Mike Dean–and let him cook? What’s the point of pushing and promoting him as a star when we’re just getting half-baked ideas? It’s clear he has potential; if there’s any thrill in “Outlet” it’s hearing that potential begin to round itself out. But there’s still a long way to go.