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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Doja Cat explores personal image more than musical style in “Scarlet”

“Scarlet” rips away Doja Cat’s soft, bubblegum persona and showcases the artist’s blasé attitude towards criticism.

“Look at me, look at me, you lookin’?” When Doja Cat dropped “Attention” in June this year, it’s safe to say it took the internet by storm.

On Doja Cat’s newest album “Scarlet,” released Sept. 22, the singer-rapper’s edgier, enigmatic persona has been thrust into the spotlight, making it clear to the world that the artist known for softcore hits like “Kiss Me More” and “Say So” is nowhere to be found. While it contains some standout songs, the album isn’t so much a reflection of musical experimentation as it is a vessel for Doja Cat to antagonize her critics.

The album starts off with a tame, mellow track, one you’ve probably heard many times before, entitled “Paint the Town Red.” While there’s not much to say about this song, the track highlights Doja Cat’s ability to reinvent hits from the past into hits of the present, using samples as a launching pad for infectiously popular music like “Streets,” “Vegas,” and now this song. It’s clear she’s capable of reverence as she recognizes that art from the past isn’t just a collection of relics, but something to be reintroduced.

All that flies out the window with the second track, “Demons.” If “Paint the Town Red” was Doja Cat’s sendoff to her old sound, “Demons” ushers in her new musical era, the artist reveling in allegations of satanism. With its reverb; throbbing, heavy beat; and intricate, pitched up synths, it reminded me of some of Baby Keem’s earlier works, particularly “family ties.” However, Doja Cat is less playful than her counterpart as she mocks her critics: “Lots of people’s hopes and dreams are finally trashed now/…I done took the spotlight and made ’em black out,” she taunts.

She doesn’t lie. The subject matter of the next couple of songs feature Doja Cat at her most incendiary. For example, while “Wet Vagina” is mediocre with its lackluster chorus and some unexciting flows, her explicit lyrics are sure to garner some hilarious, emotional Facebook videos from aggrieved, conservative Christian moms, so I’ll give it an A-.

Yet besides that, Doja Cat’s experimentation bears mixed results. Her songs like “FTG,” “Often” and “Love Life” are laden with ‘90s R&B and rap influences, which don’t suit my fancy. “Go Off,” with its minimalist production, bored me so much I had to resist the urge to hit skip. While possessing a distinctive sound, most of the tracks didn’t live up to their promotional hype. I often wondered why an album that prided itself on its rap songs often featured the mellow vibes the singer claimed to have left behind.

The real strong point of the album comes at the end with the final track “WYM Freestyle.” With its moody orchestral trap beat and a heavy Kendrick Lamar influence, Doja Cat, fends off attacks about her controversies, relevance and her shift to rap. “Got a lifelong career, you make a living,” she hisses. “I got a overflow of trophies, you ain’t winning.”

From all of this, it’s clear to see that Doja Cat would rather not be beholden to expectations set by her fans, her critics and the music industry. She wants our respect as an artist, not necessarily as a person. While it’s debatable to what extent that is possible, “Scarlet” is sure to get people talking.

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