5 Things You Didn’t Know About Desiigner

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iHeartRadio MMVAs performer Desiigner was an artist only Kanye West saw coming. The Brooklyn native grew up in the same, rough neighbourhood as many other greats like Biggie, Nas and Jay Z. Just a year ago, he was a young kid trying to find a way out of a bad situation through music. It wasn’t until West took notice of Desiigner’s hit-making potential with “Panda,” which he sampled on The Life Of Pablo, sky-rocketing the 19-year-old to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 100. In under a year, he went from an unknown kid to a huge star. Since his career is still on the rise, you may not know much about him besides his massively catchy song. Here are five facts about Desiigner.

1. His original stage name was Dezolo.

This changed to Designer Royel, as Royel is his middle name. His sister convinced him to drop “Royel” from the moniker and add an extra “i”. Thus, Desiigner was born.

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2. After being shot at 14, he decided to turn his life around.

The same year his rap career started to flourish, Desiigner’s life drastically changed after getting shot in the hip. He cites this as the reason he stopped dealing drugs and started focusing on his talent instead.

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3. He’s always been a performer.

As a kid, he spent a lot of time in the church choir and performing in school plays. His favourite song to sing was “Don’t Walk Away” by Jade, which he used to perform in subways. “I always saw myself using my voice. I was the ladies’ man—I performed ‘My Girl’ in the cafeteria,” he told Billboard.

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4. There was an 11-label bidding war to sign him.

Eleven labels where trying to sign the young rapper, with some offering him deals right away while others waited to see how successful “Panda” would be. Earlier this year, Desiigner ended up cutting a deal with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music. “Panda'”was sampled in Kanye’s song “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.2” and shortly after, the song blew up.

“Everybody had their own creative bond to it,” he said about his hit song. “It was just like being creative and building on top of music is what makes music. That’s what Kanye’s like—he built on it. He had an idea for it, put something on the beginning and let me rock out for the end.”

HBD YEEZY ⛽️
A photo posted by Desiigner (@lifeofdesiigner) on

5. It took him a year and a half to finish “Panda”

The song was inspired by a cluster of things that were going through Desiigner’s mind at the time: game of Grand Theft Auto V, the panda emoji and a white BMW X6 with black windows that he saw outside. A friend came across the beat for the song on YouTube and Desiigner bought it from then-unknown producer Menace for $200. His original idea was to shop the hook around to established artists, but his manager convinced him to keep it. He confessed he still hasn’t been to Atlanta and told Genius he only had one broad there—a girl he met on Facebook.

Catch his performance this Sunday, June 19 at 9E/6p!