Zadie Smith is among the most acclaimed and decorated authors in the English language. She is the author of five novels, an insightful essayist, a winner of both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and the Whitbread Book Award; she is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. And according to an interview that she gave to British comedian Adam Buxton, Zadie Smith also loves Desiigner and Bobby Shmurda.
"I really like Kendrick. But I also—my brothers despair of me—I'm a sucker for beats," she told Buxton, referring to her younger siblings, rappers Doc Brown and Luc Stylz. "So sometimes people like Bobby Shmurda…" Buxton stops her. Who is Bobby Shmurda? "Bobby Shmurda is now unfortunately in jail for shmurda," she said.
Swiftly onwards. "And there's a song, a huge hit at the moment, called 'Panda.'" We can pause for a moment here to point out that Zadie Smith, who is brilliant, is 41 years old, which is very young to be the recipient of so many accolades and also maybe not Desiigner's target market. Her awareness of Desiigner's existence is in itself an achievement. Now that we've got that out the way, Zadie, "Panda" is not a huge hit right now.
"The chorus goes: "Panda, panda, panda, panda, panda," which is literally about having two different types of car and when you put them together they look like a panda. But the song is irresistible," she said. "My brothers frown on this kind of party hip-hop."
The interview is great from front to back—Buxton and Smith both tend to be funny and insightful—and Smith goes into her own histories with both weed and rap. She says that she never bought into the goth aesthetic growing up in North London, but that she loved the music hub of Camden. "I was certainly in the sitting around, smoking weed scene. But then, that was the entirety of North London. That was what we did then." She doesn't get high anymore, but, she does still "love getting drunk. That didn't finish."
She said that she grew up loving De La Soul, Doug E. Fresh, Arrested Development, and Slick Rick, that she hated Oasis—really, really hated Oasis—and that John Lennon was a revelation. But the weird stuff came after the Desiigner and Shmurda love when Buxton asked Smith about Frank Ocean.
"I love Frank Ocean," she said. "I feel for him. I think it's so hard to be famous in that way and to have such a delicate and interesting talent. But at the same time, I hope he finds a way back to his natural abilities, which are very large. I hope he doesn't spend too much time agonizing. As old grizzled people, we've seen this process before."
Did critically acclaimed author Zadie Smith not enjoy Noisey's Album of the Year, Blond? Did she prefer nostalgia, ULTRA? What's "this process" anyway?
These questions remain unanswered for now. I'm absolutely here for a Zadie Smith essay that considers Frank Ocean's genius, though.
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