Things You Don't Know About Desiigner

We all know Desiigner as the teenager behind the the hit song "Panda," the chart-topping smash that dethroned Rihanna's "Work" to become the number one song in the country and earned over 190 million video views on YouTube. Although he hasn't been in the public eye very long, he's already made quite a name for himself. So what was Desiigner like before his debut single made him famous?

His early life

Desiigner was born Sidney Royel Selby III on May 3, 1997 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a Brooklyn neighborhood. The hip-hop artist grew up in Louis Armstrong public housing which he says is, "not the place you really want to be."

Even though it wasn't the ideal place for a kid to be raised, he does say it helped him grow up. "I was straight from the block," he told Paper. "So coming out that lifestyle and coming out that hood, it matured me. Then I got in this lifestyle, it matured me even faster... Being around older [people] is a learning experience for both sides of the table. I can teach you something, even though I'm 19, you can learn something."

He grew up around music

Desiigner's been around music his entire life, even coming from a musical family. Sidney Selby, Desiigner's grandfather, was an important blues musician nicknamed the "Guitar Crusher." He earned that name by playing with the likes of The Isley Brothers, The Drifters and Ben E. King. That rubbed off on Desiigner who started singing at his church and school—and in the subway!

"I always saw myself using my voice," he told Billboard. "I was the ladies' man—I performed 'My Girl' in the cafeteria. I was David Ruffin in The Temptations. I sang for years. I used to sing in the subways — I didn't see no other way out."

He didn't pursue blues like his grandfather but instead started writing raps. He wrote his very first rap at the young age of nine, but it wasn't something he took seriously at that age.

He got shot

Desiigner overcame a lot to get to where he is today. When he was only 14 years old, he was shot in a terrifying moment that changed his life forever.

"I was a bad kid. I was a hardhead," he admitted to Rob Markman for Genius. "I was in the streets doing dumb s***, I got hit [by a bullet] in my hip. It wasn't serious. I was in the hospital 10 minutes, 30 minutes—but it was just that moment that really said, 'Yo, mind your business.' When that happened to me, I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. I always had a voice in my head that said, 'Don't do the bad.'"

He didn't go into detail about the event but does say it changed him. At that point, he made the decision to get out of the streets and go into the studio to pursue his music.

"[Being in the streets] wasn't working for me, so I was like, you know what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna sell my talent," he said (via MTV).

He got serious about music

After being shot, he got his head in the game and began to get serious about rap. He got online and started releasing his own music at the age of 14. That same year, he also recorded his first song, "Jackie Chan." The music was his but he released it under the name Designer Royel, but his sister had a better idea.

"My little sister told me to drop my middle name and put two i's to give it some flavor—and that the girls would like it more," he told USA Today.

He found the perfect beat

In 2014, Desiigner's friend found the beat that would change his life forever. He found a catchy beat on YouTube from producer Menace and he bought it for only $200. That was the beginning of what would be his smash hit, "Panda."

"We cooked it up in two days," he told Billboard. The next year, he released the song by himself and started racking up YouTube views.

He met with Cash Money

Desiigner made such a name for himself that labels started to take notice. He got a call from Cash Money Records to have a meeting. Although he had the opportunity to sign with them, he ultimately ended up not joining Bryan "Birdman" Williams and the Cash Money family.

He met Kanye and signed with G.O.O.D.

Another opportunity presented itself to Desiigner and this one felt right—and it came from Kanye West. He flew to L.A. and accepted an offer from G.O.O.D./Def Jam.

"The day I signed to G.O.O.D. Music, it was a great opportunity," he told XXL. "I had my mom with me, my little sister out there in L.A., we was having fun and it was it. It was a great opportunity. My mom seen me sign that paper and it gave her the biggest smile of her life. I never forget that face. That opportunity for anybody that listening to this is great, definitely work hard and try to get there."

Desiigner's work ethic is strong and his future looks bright. Indeed, we have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more from him in the future.