Desiigner Throws Selfie Party Onstage

By Rami Abou-Sabe

Desiigner, born Sidney Royel Selby III, made a name for himself when King Kanye sampled the young upstart’s debut single “Panda” for The Life of Pablo. Now the Brooklyn MC is bringing his brand of energetic hip-hop across the country on a debut headlining tour.

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Selby treated a sold-out Cambridge crowd to just over an hour of sultry, sweaty, and downright swanky beats at The Sinclair Tuesday night (May 9). Brief respites from the onslaught of tinny hi-hats and thumping bass came as the trap-rap was punctuated by a healthy dose of Snapchat and IG mugging.

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Lacking an arsenal of well-known hits to build a set around, Selby relies on brash, youthful exuberance to carry the show. The high-school-aged musician carries his string-bean lank with confidence typically reserved for teenagers and presidents. The impressive part? He actually pulls it off.

Selby’s woozy rasp is reminiscent of old school Ludacris, while the ATL-style beats pull from his contemporary Future. But the nearly-unintelligible adlibbing? That’s entirely, uniquely Desiigner.

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Far from the most talented rapper in the game, Desiigner has embraced his modern celebrity persona to supplement what’s lacking in musicality; Snapchat and Instagram stories are as big a part of the show as the actual music.

The crowd skewed young, even for a college town like Boston, and Selby’s schtick played perfectly into the minds (and iPhones) of the 20-something audience.

At one point, every girl with a “big, wide thing that can shake it” was invited onstage, and the resulting dance party was reminiscent of the late-2000s daggering that took the dancehall world by storm.

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While the young MC is just getting started, if he continues to build a brand as the party-loving, snapchat-using, brash, womanizing rapper from Brooklyn, it won’t really matter that the music kinda sucks.

As the stumbling Tufts sophomore (a proud new owner of an onstage Desiigner selfie) said while leaving the show, “I could barely understand him… But look how many people commented on my Insta-story!”

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