|Album Review: Desiigner – New English|
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Lignen is a dense plant fiber, responsible for giving plants their strength and rigidity. In nature, some animals do better digesting lignen than others – pandas being a notable exception. The Giant Panda, native to Southeast Asia (but now, basically just China and your local zoo) is the only extant animal in its genus, Ailuropoda. Pandas eat bamboo almost exclusively, and they have evolved cellulose-eating gut bacteria to power through all the dense plant fibers.
Human beings, on the other hand, cannot digest lignen. That's why your friend on a "healthy" raw diet is a total pseudo-scientific woo-slinger who probably isn't vaccinated, but I'll leave that for a moment. The important thing to remember about lignen is that human beings can only consume this dense plant fiber when it's introduced to fire. Without fire, you'll miss most of the available nutrients within the plant.
Mixtapes are similiar to lignen in one way: Without fire, they're undigestable roughage. That, unfortunately, appears the be the case with Desiigner's just-released mixtape New English.
If you're not familiar with Desiigner, welcome back from your cyrogenic experiment. The United Kingdom just left the European Union. A discarded foreskin covered in Cheeto-dust is running for President of the United States. White girls in Volkswagen Jetta's across the United States are rolling down their windows and yelling "PANDA!" at you as you're skateboarding through East Nashville. That's because Desiigner (arguably) has the early favorite for Summer 2016's biggest rap banger. "Panda" is an unintelligible, frenetic trap tune with an incessant chorus featuring our favorite Ailuropoda, the Giant Panda. Say it with me now, "Panda, panda, panda, panda…"
Sadly, "Panda" is where the digestable part of New English begins and ends. (Technically, since it's the last track on the mixtape, it's where it ends, but I'm not trying to get lost in semantics.) I was excited when I saw Desiigner put out a mixtape, because XXL just featured him as part of their annual roundup of Freshmen. I assumed XXL must've had some inside knowledge about Desiigner's abilities, so I pressed play under the assumption it'd at least be average.
Nothing could have prepared me for the amateurish effort coming from my monitors. New English is objectively terrible, in almost every measurable way. Generally, I'm the first guy to line up and love gritty, southern-inspired, muddy-bass trap. If I didn't know this was on G.O.O.D. Music, I would have just assumed it was recorded by some broke guys from Fulton County. Nothing about the level of professionalism here says "Major Label Effort", at all, whatsoever.
The mixing and mastering is all over the place. Sometimes the bass is squashed, and sometimes the vocals are way-too-tinny. Sometimes the bass has been so compressed it just sort of rattles. It's particularly problematic on "Monstas Villains", which finishes mid-song, for some reason. So it's really bad, but also over quickly, for reasons I can't explain. "Talk Regardless" then moves into a place where the bass is almost inaudible in the mix. Track by track, this entire thing is amateur-level shit, just from a standpoint of professionalism. That's the difference between New English and something like Future's "DS2" – DS2 sounds clear. When "I Serve The Base" comes on, the bass is accurate, like someone gave a shit what the finished product would sound like. None of that quality control is present on New English.
There are two bright spots on this entire mixtape. The aforementioned "Panda", and "Overnight". I actually really enjoyed "Overnight" because the production style mimes witch-house artists like SALEM, BLVCK CEILING, and oOoOO. It's spooky, with pad-like voltage-regulated synthesizers providing a subtle contrast to the incessant "Overnight" refrain. That's where Desiigner really shines: Repetition. I'm not sure if that's a net-positive, but it's accurate. I'm also pretty sure that's a SALEM sample, but I can't be 100% sure.
Aside from those two songs, there is no songwriting here. You can go ahead and end your Easter egg hunt right now.
The feverish energy that Desiigner displays on Panda is present on the other songs, but in an entirely unpleasant way. It's like watching a guy on the subway tweak out. You know he's tweaking on meth, and it's mildly entertaining, but you're also hoping he's stays right where he is. Whatever voices he's talking to can stay right the fuck over there.
It's unimaginative and repetitive. When paired with Desiigner's repetitive style, it goes from acceptable to grating. Every song is stale before you even get to the end. You're thankful when a song ends. It's a reprieve from the incessant yelling over a poorly-mixed beat.
Desiigner's style is loud, obnoxious and boisterous. The closest thing I can think of would be Danny Brown, but then again, Danny Brown is actually a talented rapper. Desiigner is to rap music what Steven A. Smith is to sports commentary: Loud and obnoxious, in a way that makes you want to hit him with a car. If you love shouting, you'll love this mixtape. Of course, if you love shouting, why don't you just move back in with your parents, so you can hear your mother and father come inches-away from a divorce on a nightly basis. It's all your fault, Ben. You're the reason mom and dad don't love each other anymore. (But I digress.)
You should listen to this mixtape because…
You woke up this morning and stubbed your toe. Right after stubbing your toe, your ex called you and let you know she's three months pregnant, and she's keeping it. Then your boss texted you and said, "Call me as soon as you get this." So you call your boss and he says, "Hey, you know I really like you, but we've had some cutbacks, and I gotta lay you off." You open your fridge and realize while you were high last night, you put the ice cream in there, instead of the freezer, so you're left with a puddle of milky chocolate – no way to each your feelings now. So you decide to take a bike ride and clear your head, but both of your tires are flat.
"Fuck everything," you think silently. "I'm just going to get a 40oz and chill for the day." On your way to the corner store, you're hit by a soccer mom in a lightly-used Toyota Highlander. She opens the door, and you hear "Panda" playing from her speakers. Her children exit the rear doors and are dancing and singing "PANDA PANDA PANDA!" as you lay flat on the ground, not moving, not feeling anything.
"This mixtape is FIRE!", screams the soccer mom to her kids. The kids nod in agreement. "Desiigner is my favorite!" says one of the children. Your life is hell, and everything is wrong.
Verdict: New English is a mixtape complete devoid of fire. It is undigestable rap trash, the gritty lignen of music, not meant for human consumption.