fri 19/07/2024

Album: Doja Cat - Scarlet | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Doja Cat - Scarlet

Album: Doja Cat - Scarlet

The Gen Z superstar offers up an uneven, sprawling rap album

'The best moments are when Doja Cat explores new sounds'

It felt inevitable that Doja Cat would turn her back on being a popstar. The Californian rapper’s career has been shaped by her ambivalent relationship to fame and earlier this year she went as far as denouncing her previous albums as “mediocre pop”. She regularly gets into spats online, recently telling one of her own fan accounts that they should “delete the entire account and rethink everything.”

It was refreshing to see a popstar challenge the toxic aspects of modern fan culture so head on. But the dismissal of her own music felt a bit harsh. Doja Cat’s blend of disco-revival and glossy pop-rap has been a much-needed injection of personality on the charts in recent years. However, her polished sound has felt at odds with her edge-lord antics and her desire to be taken more seriously as a rapper.

On Scarlet, her fourth album, Doja Cat takes command and steers away from radio-pop and towards hard-hitting rap and soulful R&B. It’s nearly an hour of pure Doja, with no features and no team of writers.

The album is slightly bogged down by Doja Cat’s insistence on telling us she’s breaking the mould, while not doing much to back it up. In fact, a handful of beats here sound recycled from other big rap albums and feel a bit anonymous, like “Demons”, “WYM Freestyle” and “Wet Vagina”.

Instead, the best moments are when Doja Cat explores new sounds, particularly with the woozy boom-bap on songs like “Balut”, “97” and “Love Life”. Here it feels like Doja Cat is finally experimenting and letting her guard down, revealing more about herself along the way. “Often” is a free-form cosmic jazz jam and “Attention” features a harp and sitar – both songs are perhaps a reminder that Doja Cat grew up on none other than Alice Coltrane’s ashram between ages 8-12.

Doja Cat is a charismatic writer even though her bars are sometimes weak (“they ain’t even ready spaghetti baby they sauceless”), but often she manages to be both silly and sincere in the same breath, like when she raps: “If you were a middle American farmer/ I’d read up on every vegetable and harvest them around you”, on “Can’t Wait.” It is Doja Cat’s charm that keeps the various parts of Scarlet together – even in its flimsier moments.

Doja Cat’s blend of disco-revival and glossy pop-rap has been a much-needed injection of personality on the charts in recent years

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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