Panda, panda, panda panda panda panda panda
Today is a sudden and probably brief interlude between the The Life of Pablo release and the Painting With release, a second of sanity between my two most anticipated albums of the year, so let's do the most typical thing in the world for this blog: talk about some crazy hip hop song, and say the word "banger" a lot. I first heard this song during Yeezy Season 3, where Kanye sampled it for "Father Spread My Hands pt 2", and I, like probably many others, assumed it was Future. Like the song starts with Metro Boomin's producer tag, which samples Future?? And c'mon he sounds like Future.
But in the aftermath, I saw many posts calling out that no, this wasn't Future, this was Desiigner, a new rapper from Brooklyn signed by GOOD Music, that had been cultivating some hype over the last few months, largely on the strength of this gigantic single. Imagine how they felt - this treasure they had discovered, that they had invested some hope in, hope that he'd make it, suddenly on the world's largest stage, becoming an integral part of one of world's the most anticipated albums... pretty shocking, right? But pretty great too. But maybe a little frustrating, too? To see people assume it was Future? I've been on that side of these things a few times before - niche things you enjoy suddenly exploding into mainstream popularity (well, not quite Kanye mainstream, of course) - and the propagation of the slightest inaccuracies or uneducated attitudes can be almost viscerally painful (if you're a dweeb like me). It's a real rollercoaster - you're overwhelmed with the feeling of potential, you're excited to see their success, you feel like you're somehow sharing in it with your early support, but in recognition of that feeling, which isn't really true, you suddenly become aware of your desire to "steer" the greater understanding of the success, and how ridiculous that is, and it makes you feel elitist and fraudulent and basically a sad panda.
Okay well that was how I felt about pannenkoek and TGM and One Punch Man and a bunch of other stuff but uhhh that probably isn't how fans of Desiigner felt about the sudden prominence of "Panda", because this is a gigantic banger about making money and nice cars and not some video game subculture that I care too much about. There is something to be learned here. The central motivating image is that a white BMW X6 looks like a panda, which is the sort of adorable observation that a 6 year old might make. But the key observation made by Desiigner is that "panda" is an amazing word for rappers - the rhyme potential, the cadence, the emphasis, the hard, spitty "p" and the diminished, leading "da"... how did no one realize this before? I can remember Riff Raff saying it occasionally, but always as like, a modifier - "banana bird fists look like panda piss", etc - which is a different point of focus in terms of flow or whatever. Man, what a discovery! I eagerly await waves of Panda-imitators, rambling endlessly about pandas and things that look like pandas. I also just like pandas.
As a final note: this song goes hard and talks about hard stuff, like even bank robbing at one point, but apparently he got the idea when he was playing Grand Theft Auto - i.e. looking at a virtual car. So perhaps we aren't so different. But then again, we almost certainly are.