Desiigner Talks ‘L.O.D.’ EP and Working With Snoop Dogg
Two years ago, there was no escaping Desiigner. The Brooklyn MC (born Sidney Royel Selby III) was riding a wave off of his high-octane smash “Panda” (which was spliced into “Pt. 2″ on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo), and the viral gem “Tiimmy Turner” (which landed a remix from ‘Ye as well). He then pushed out his debut project, New English, and secured a deal with Def Jam Records/G.O.O.D. Music.
These days, the young fire-spitter is still as rambunctious and happy-go-lucky as the rapper who would perform his first hit on tables, but rather than dole out wild ad-libs that are almost impossible to spell, he’s creating music with messages. For his new EP L.O.D. (an acronym for Life of Desiigner), he tackles gun violence and shifty relationships.
Below, Desiigner reflects on his come-up and that one time he created a track with Snoop Dogg.
How are you different from the Desiigner who created “Panda” and “Tiimmy Turner” two years ago, besides getting a driver’s license?
[Laughs] It’s life experiences, and the responsibilities I’ve taken on now have definitely put a change into the way I’m speaking, illustrating my music, the way things are happening. It’s just seeing how far I could go being around certain people. Patience is the biggest thing I’ve learned so far too.
What kind of situations have made you learn about patience?
Like really putting out the business, eating with my business partners and learning in the game, taking my time to meet everybody on my team at Def Jam and having the patience with people because I just be wanting to put music out ASAP but it’s a process. With all my supporters that was waiting for me, Desiigner always been ready, always putting it together and we had to make sure the team and everybody else was on-board.
How have you switched up your creative process between New English and L.O.D.?
I always tell people that New English was my most rushed project. I can’t say it was pressure but it was like everybody was so in a rush to hear me at the time. I had a lot of people making records for me so I put something together real quick. But this [project L.O.D.] is something I really put together. I really feel it’s different cases and scenarios down to arguments with the team. I’m talking about relationships and all types of things.
Was there a certain piece of advice you’re glad you didn’t follow while creating L.O.D.?
Heck yeah. Definitely, there’s certain things like with the song “Destiination” that’s talking about a bond and a relationship. I’m talking about me not being connected with somebody. I just prayed on it and now we more cool, and it’s dope again.
How do you handle being in a relationship while famous?
It’s crazy. It’s a blessing. People are gonna be jealous here and there but it’s human. Sometimes you gotta catch each other eye to eye. Just being regular and understanding how things gotta go and how certain things work.
Any personal favorites from L.O.D.?
My record “Hood” is definitely a breakdown for me. I lost my friend around Christmas, and I heard he died [wearing] my merch. That just touched me, like, man, he was out there supporting me and then he still ended up being in the wrong things, kind of the neighborhoods or environments we’re in. I just wanted to approach that in “Hood,” people dying in their own neighborhood. I got shot at 14 down the block from my house so I was sick and tired of that feeling. My brother also got killed at Thomas Jefferson [high school in Brooklyn]. I was going to school [there]. I know people are dying in their hood, and we’re all trying to live to see another day.
On that track, you say, “I don’t want to lose my life” and “Mama told me to stay away from no good.” As a young, black man, especially given current events, do you feel there’s a responsibility for artists to do songs like “Hood”?
Yes, definitely. I want to do “Panda” and “Tiimmy Turner” all day. I want to turn up but if I’m here in front of millions and thousands of people, I want to leave a message. I want to leave something that’s going to let you remember that we can make a change because there are a lot of negative things going on. I want to address them and make sure we can change it if we can while I’m here.
You mentioned on your timeline that your G.O.O.D. Music family like Travis Scott loves the project. Did he offer you any pointers while you were creating the music?
Definitely. I remember we was in the same studio one time in New York. I pulled up, he pulled up. He was playing [his upcoming album] Astroworld and the elements and the beats were crazy. [I told him] like, ‘Yo, bro, you got some fire.’ I let him hear certain things and he was like, ‘I’m fuckin’ with it.’ It’s about being great artists, always bringing that inspiration to bring more to the project.
Was Kanye West involved in your project at all?
‘Ye wasn’t involved. He was all about his project. It’s gon’ be crazy. This is just the storm of G.O.O.D. Music really comin’ through. Pusha, Teyana, everybody’s comin’. L.O.D. setting it off.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Desiigner right now?
Understanding me. In the beginning, it was hard for a lot of people to understand me because I was turning up. I really came from nothing. I never had a bed, I never had a room. I always slept on the carpet, I always slept on the floor or on my couch. So being able to experience and waken my eyes up to seeing things like [my success] is really shocking to me. I always seen myself here but when it happened, it was crazy. Me expressing it out there in interviews but I’m way more than that. I’m here to make a change. I’m here to make the positive. I’m here to keep that smile. You can’t cut the smile off. I’ll still turn up but I’ll still give a message.
It’s been two years since you and I sat down at the Def Jam office for an interview for another publication and you played a lot of unreleased music. There was a song I fell in love with that featured Snoop Dogg. What happened to that track and when is the world going to hear that?
You talking about that “Nasty Freak” joint. It was in L.A. It was a dope night. Shout out Che [Pope, producer and former label president] from G.O.O.D. Music. I cooked up [the song] and I said, ‘Yo, Che. I need Snoop on this ASAP.’ And he’s like, ‘Okay, I called him,’ and it was the first night of me and Snoop in the studio. Snoop got the whole thing looking like Star Trek, mad weed everywhere. He was playing some real cool vibes, just like I wanted to hear. So I was like, ‘Alright, man. Snoop gon’ put this fire on here.’ When we were laying it down, he was like, ‘Okay, nephew, I didn’t know you get down like this.’
It was a great vibe and he walked me around the studio. We was just talking, and he was giving me real knowledge. He was just like, ‘You’re killin’ it. I love that you’re keeping the energy and that’s what you got to do – always keep the energy, always look out for the family, always get time for yourself, stay focused ‘cause this time in this life go fast.’ He said, ‘Be on task with your partners, make sure you got things under control,’ and I really embraced that and the way he was saying it. [The song’s] coming out on a big project. It’s gonna be crazy.
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