Desiigner was born on May 3, 1997, in Brooklyn, New York. Desiigner was raised by his mother in the Louis Armstrong housing projects in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood. He began practicing vocals at school choir and church. At the age of 14, after being shot, he embarked on his music career. Desiigner’s family originates from Barbados. His grandfather, Sidney Selby, is blues musician Guitar Crusher.
Desiigner embarked on his music career under his original moniker Dezolo, before he began putting out the work on these tracks under the alias of Designer Royel, especially with Royel (which is his middle name). His sister convinced him to drop the “Royel” part, and keep the “Designer” part as his new stage name, doubling the “I”‘s. On December 3, 2015, under his new pseudonym, Desiigner released his debut track, called “Zombie Walk”. The song was produced by The Shell God. On December 15, 2015, Desiigner released his commercial debut single, titled “Panda” on both YouTube and SoundCloud. The song released on iTunes within five days later, before being re-released as of February 2016. On February 11, 2016, Desiigner signed a recording contract with Kanye West’s GOOD Music imprint, under the aegis of Def Jam Recordings. After signing a record deal, Desiigner subsequently appeared on two tracks—”Pt. 2″ (which features an interpolation of “Panda”) and “Freestyle 4″—which was taken from Kanye West’s seventh album The Life of Pablo. Desiigner then went on to perform at the 2016’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival. In an interview with Billboard, Desiigner confirmed the release of his upcoming mixtape, titled Trap History Month.
On May 5, 2016, producer Mike Dean announced that he would be serving as the executive producer for Desiigner’s upcoming debut studio album. On May 24, Desiigner announced that the title to his upcoming debut album would be called The Life of Desiigner. In June 2016, XXL magazine revealed their annual “Freshmen Class” for 2016, and Desiigner was included on the list with nine other new artists. In June 2016, “Champions” was released as the lead single from the GOOD Music’s upcoming compilation album, Cruel Winter. Desiigner made a guest appearance on this track, alongside his label-mate Kanye West, and other rappers such as Gucci Mane, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Yo Gotti and Quavo. In the same month, Desiigner made his US television debut, when he performed his single, “Panda” at the 2016’s BET Awards. On June 26, 2016, Desiigner released his first full-length mixtape, titled New English on Tidal, following a live premiere of the mixtape on June 22. In July 2016, American pop singer Demi Lovato brought out Desiigner at her concert in New York. On July 21, 2016, Desiigner premiered the track, called “Tiimmy Turner”, which was released as a single on iTunes the next day and later he released another single entitled “Outlet.”