Sidney Royel Selby III is 18 years old, he's from Brooklyn, New York, and he's never been to Atlanta. He started rapping at the age of 14 after singing in school choir and at church. One day, while playing Grand Theft Auto, he noticed the white BMW X6 looks a lot like a panda.
A year and a half later that foundation coupled with an appetite for Georgia peaches, led Sidney aka Desiigner to a record deal with Kanye West's GOOD Music label, the number one song in the country and one of the hottest rappers in the game coming for his neck.
"Panda" was released December 21, 2015, but most music fans didn't hear the song until The Life of Pablo was released on February 14, 2016. Remixed and re-titled as "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. II," it was hard for fans not to mistake Desiigner as Future. For one, "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. I" was produced by long time Future collaborator Metro Boomin with "Pt. II" being the next track following immediately after. Secondly Future was coming off an amazing 2015 so being featured on TLOP would have been a no brainer.
But when news spread that it was Desiigner and not Future's voice, compliments turned to criticism.
Rap fans are no strangers to MCs sounding similar. DMX felt Ja Rule jacked his gruff flow, Shyne, who sounded a lot like the late Notorious B.I.G., started a bidding war between major record labels and before Desiigner and Future the most recent incident involved chef turned rapper Action Bronson and Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah flow and candence are nearly identical.
Coke doesn't mention Pepsi...
The popularity of "Panda" made it difficult for Future to ignore the song. Before "Panda" even reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the song debuted on Billboard higher than any Future song had.
But Future addressing it only validates Desiigner and "Panda." The song is infectious with energy that's custom made for knocking pictures down the wall and early morning workout sessions at the gym.
So why the discontent? Would it be the same if Future rapped "Panda?"
Android fans have long sat by their keyboards during any Apple press conference ready to tell Apple fans how long they've had features that were just announced. Apple fans do not care. The Los Angeles Lakers won 5 NBA finals running a slightly modified Triangle offense. The same offense that the 6-time NBA Champions Chicago Bulls ran. Laker fans don't care. If this year grants Cubs fans a World Series, it won't be less sweet because the Cubs now employ Theo Epstien the man who is credited for bringing a World Series to Boston.
Why is music any different? It isn't, themes for concept albums have been duplicated, there are ton of albums titled Black, and numerous artists have remade another artist song. Countless R&B artists have at least one song where they try to do their best Prince or Michael Jackson impersonation. These artists are only thrown to the lions when they fail. But Desiigner didn't fail.
Hearing Desiigner speak, similar to Shyne, he doesn't have much of choice when it came to how he sounds on the mic. Couple that with the track produced by British producer Menace, there really wasn't to many ways to attack that song. Desiigner is a victim of circumstance.
To be fair, no one in the south sounds like Future. Future just happens to be from the south. The same thing can be said for Desiigner's new boss Kanye West. Knowing nothing about Kanye upon a first listen most would be hard pressed to place Mr. West stomping grounds. Panda is the first song people are hearing from Desiigner. He's acknowledged the Future comparisons and promises future music will dead it. Even if it doesn't, being the first New York rapper with the number one song in the country since 09, Desiigner should be celebrate not condemned.