Doja Cat’s newest album is decided, daring and empowering in a manner that makes for a enjoyable hear. She’s celebrating small joys — friendships, her mother’s mac ‘n’ cheese — and demonstrating her lyrical abilities. But whereas “Scarlet” solidifies Doja’s abilities as a rapper, the substance typically falls flat.
“Scarlet,” launched on Sept. 22, is threaded together with her emblems: intriguing ad-libs, playful lyrics and moments of softness that make it clear how glad Doja is now. The primary monitor, “Paint the City Pink,” units the tone with playful, devilish imagery and a Dionne Warwick pattern. The music prepares the listener for a form of resurrection — “I’m going to glow up yet another time / Belief me, I’ve magical foresight” — Doja’s able to play by her personal guidelines and present the world what she will do together with her rapping.
A number of different songs on the album additionally echo this message, resembling “Fuck the Ladies (FTG)” and “Cranium and Bones.” Even the ultimate music, “WYM Freestyle,” ends the album on this identical notice, one that’s amplified by her shifting vocal inflections and wealthy beats.
Whereas I loved the smoother vibe of the second half of “Scarlet,” a number of the songs got here throughout as pointless. Of the album’s again half, solely “Agora Hills” and “Can’t Wait” memorably floor the album’s aggression in one thing softer. “Agora Hills” speaks to her romantic, susceptible facet: “Child, are you able to name me again? I miss you / It’s so lonely in my mansion.” The second half of the album could be a refuge for individuals who get pleasure from Doja’s extra affectionate facet, particularly if the primary half was too harsh for them. Whereas the album was meant to be a show of the rapper’s vary, just a few of the tracks fall in need of this promise.
As a fan of Doja, I used to be within the premise of “Scarlet,” however a bit let down by its execution. The album might have struck a steadiness between frustration, being in love and private reinvention, however the tracks’ supply of those messages usually faltered. It didn’t sound practically as completely different as Doja Cat had promised. A number of songs, together with “Agora Hills,” sound like they may have been from her 2021 launch “Planet Her.”
This isn’t essentially a foul factor — “Planet Her” melded pop and rap options from vastly completely different artists with out dropping its ethereal sound. Nonetheless, contemplating the quantity of hype and controversy she generated round fully altering her model, the similarity of the tracks on “Scarlet” shredded her credibility.
I first encountered Doja Cat’s music in 2018, the yr she dropped her first studio album “Amala.” With its seductive and enjoyable lyricism, I rapidly grew to become a fan. Tracks like “Go to City” and “Physique Language” heralded her arrival to the R&B scene as an artist with cheeky verses and a playfully sexualized angle. She was quirky, assured and unapologetically herself, and it got here throughout within the music.
It got here as an entire shock to followers when Doja Cat lately dismissed her previous discography as a money seize. Following years of criticism of her rapping abilities and the TikTok-ification of songs like “Kiss Me Extra” and “Say So,” the artist insisted that her subsequent drop can be fully completely different. Doja vowed to unleash the demons she claimed had been dampened by the expectations of mainstream music.
Doja Cat is, after all, extremely gifted, and I nonetheless loved the album general — I wouldn’t be stunned if “Gun” and “WYM Freestyle” seem on my subsequent Spotify Wrapped. With that being stated, I hope her future releases really ship on the promise of exploring the depth of her demonic facet and shocks us all.
Though Doja has made her popularity on being outspoken, badmouthing previous initiatives and the viewers that supported them was a step too far for some followers. On one hand, she wouldn’t be the place she is now if it hadn’t been for followers of her earlier albums. However, feeling trapped beneath expectations is comprehensible.
Doja Cat has the appropriate to discover new types in her music no matter no matter backlash she would possibly face. “Scarlet,” nevertheless, wasn’t the departure from pop that she promised.
Contact Sophia Anderson at [email protected].