Tune For Tune: Battle of the UK “Panda” Refixes

Who Flipped The “Panda” Beat Better: Gappy Ranks or Lady Leshur?

All this week we’ve been deluged with a Desiigner media blitz since the 19-year-old Barbados-by-way-of-Brooklyn eccentric dropped the Tidal-exclusive video for his chart-topping smash “Panda.” Though he spends most of the tune talking about Atlanta—and sounding a whole lot like Future sippin’ on some sort of new double-cup concoction—Desiigner goes down in history as first New York rapper to top the pop charts since Jay Z dropped “Empire State of Mind.” Where Jigga did it with an assist from Alicia Keys, Desiigner of course got a huge boost from Kanye West, who discovered his tune on Soundcloud and incorporated it into “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2” the third cut on The Life of Pablo. Since that time a bunch of American rappers—from Fabolous to Lupe Fiasco to Jadakiss, and Meek Mill—have all hopped on the beat, which was built by UK-based producer Menace (who reportedly sold the beat to Desiigner for $200). Two of the more interesting flips have come from British microphone controllers, both with Caribbean roots: dancehall deejay Gappy Ranks aka Pelpa and Lady Leshurr of “Queen’s Speech” fame. No more long talking—let’s get to the tunes. Audio After The Jump…

First up is Lady Leshur, because, you know, Ladies First. Let it go…

OK Pelpa, Your Time Now…

Lady Leshur went all out on this one, dropping a full music video, which has racked up over a million views. Her lyric dexterity is on full display, throughout, as well as her obsession with oral hygiene. “First off, shut your gob,” is the opening line of the first verse, which ends with her asserting “Ya mouthpiece looks like a crusty cob.” Along the way she berates her nemesis (apparently another female) advising her “don’t big up your chest in your wonder bra.” Later on she names the object of her fury “Miranda,” perhaps to rhyme with “Panda” or maybe just to give this woman “the right to remain silent.”  The second verse is directed at all haters, regardless of gender. “To the people that dissed Queen Speech / Let’s see your bank balance,” she begins, driving the point home with bars like “I’ve gotta keep it classy / I be getting chauffeured / You be getting taxi.” Yes, we get the point—and we’re happy for her success. But this time, “the lady doth protest too much methinks.”

Gappy opens things off with a snippet of dialog from the film American Gangster in which Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas points out “The loudest one in the room is the weakest on in the room.” Clocking in at just two and half minutes, Pelpa’s freestyle (which actually sounds like it might have been just that, whereas Leshur’s elaborate rhyme schemes must have been written out first) also makes time for an appropriately bizarro Tanto Blacks cameo (“Remember you haffi have your budget… Rich!”) The lyrics may be simple, but the energy is intense. “Straight like an arrow no wobbly wobbly / Me no cornmeal soft me no hominy hominy.” Gappy mirrors Desiigner’s rapid-fire simplicity, repeating words for sonic and dramatic effect. “Bullet ah load in a banana banana banana banana” he spits, evoking the rapid fire impact of automatic weaponry. Although the song is titled “Miami” Gappy also shouts out New York, T-Dot, London, Kingston, Napoli, Birmingham, Soweto, Port Au Prince, Aleppo, Bogota, Nairobi, and California (entirely-tirely). As simple as Gappy’s take on Menace’s menacing track may be, the implied threat is powerful—perfectly matching the ominous mood and complementing the original without once mentioning Atlanta or biting any other aspect of Desiigner’s original except the vibe. In short, “No hickory dockery.”

And the winner is… Gappy Ranks

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