Touching down from his hometown of NYC to grace Huffer’s NZFW afterparty, held at The Powerstation tonight, rap artist Desiigner — aka the legendary voice behind ‘Panda‘ (which casually amassed over 440 million hits on YouTube) and who is famously signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label — was waiting for us, cool as a cucumber, at Seafarers Level 6 this afternoon. With a 10-minute time slot, we sat down to soak up the man’s infectiously positive demeanour via a quick-fire Q&A.
So it’s your first time in NZ?
Heck yeah, it’s my first time out here, its amazing! Jumping off the plane… but it’s cold. I didn’t know it was so freezing out here!
And you can understand us?
Yes, I can understand you.
Excellent. So tell me, how are your broads in Atlanta, are they well?
They cool, they cool. But I’m about to make some broads in New Zealand. Heck yeah (laughs).
How would you describe the difference between your life five years ago and your life today in five words? Oh man. Five years ago, I was poor. Today, I’m rich! Five years ago, I was hungry. Today… I’m hungry (laughs). Five years ago and today — one word: amazing.
Who is your favourite uncle?
My Uncle George (laughs).
I don’t know how much time you’ve spent around Kiwis but is there a word, a favourite word of yours, that you think we should be adopting? When you’re talking, you gotta say what you gotta say. That’s it.
No trickery here.
That’s it. No trick to it.
Tell me about your personal style, how do you describe that? Oh man, I describe my personal style as en-er-gy, exciited, you know what I’m saying? I’m bringing positive vibes. And just turned up, you know? Turn. Up.
I love the yellow [puffer jacket]. I had to make sure the swagger’s on. Gotta always make sure I’m Desiigner down. Shout out Huffer.
Being an artist and doing what you do, how important is it to have a personal style? Oh man, you’ve got to definitely be who you are. You never wanna overthink it. You never want to put yourself somewhere where you’re uncomfortable. Just make sure your style is swag. You’ve got to step out and step up.
Here in New Zealand, we’re guilty of being a bit conformist with our personal style. What would you say to someone who wants to express themselves a bit more? Oh, I would just like to say to be yourself at all times. Never change for the environment… unless it’s cold or something and you need a jacket. Everyone should definitely wear jackets if they’re cold (laughs). But yeah, just be yourself and be open. That’s what makes the room different. You need different colours and different things to make the room come alive.
What was the last thing you purchased?
I ain’t gonna lie, the last thing I got was a jet.
Un-huh, congratulations. What kind of jet?
Unh you know… a G5.
Tell about your jewellery — I love your watch?
I just be calm about my jewellery. I gotta calm watch… you know an [diamond-encrusted] AP. I got this chill chain around my neck. I be messing with the jewellery here and there but I don’t be messing with it too much. I like to invest you know. I like making my money flipping. In New York City everyone wears crazy chains you know.
So comparatively, you’re pretty pared back?
Yes, I like to be cool, calm, you know what I’m saying? I keep my wrist icy, I keep my finger icy, I keep it a little chill around my neck.
Can you describe the moment your life changed?
Oh man, I don’t really tell too many people this but it was when something dramatic happened in my family, it was to do with a bad illness. I was in front of the hospital and I knew it, that minute, I said [to myself] “I’m gonna get signed.” And the next day, Kanye West called my phone. It was something as dramatic as that. After that, I knew I was going to win.
And you just changed your mindset?
It was ASAP. I want everyone to know that negative problems are going to come through, but you should never dwell on that. The same time you think of negativity, think of something positive. I promise you, it’s like the game of life. The more you stay positive, the more [your world] expands.
That’s cool because I feel like people would have thought it was the moment Kanye called you that you knew your life had changed. But you’re saying it was the moment before that… Heck yeah! All day.
How do you stay humble given your success? I know it’s important to you…
You’ve got to know that everyone’s not here to be your friend. I was number one at one point in time and I noticed that people change. I just knew to keep myself humble, to keep God first, number one, and just keep smiling.
Okay… it’s time for some not-so-quick-fire. Mariah or J.Lo?
(Laughs). Both! A threesome (laughs).
What does your mother call you when she scolds you?
Oh she calls me by my first name [mocking her voice] — “Sidneeeeeey!”
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
At my high school, I wanted to be an EMT so I would probably be out there saving people’s lives. But I also wanted to be an astronaut so I might have been up on the moon too.
Who have you been most nervous performing in front of?
Oh man. Definitely Anna Wintour.
What would your dream holiday be?
It’s already good! It would be a ‘get-money’ day when everyone just gets money put into their bank accounts!