Hot Pink (released November 7, 2019)
I feel for talented artists looking to break through in 2019. It has to be incredibly tough to catch the eyes and ears of consumers when your livelihood often relies the strength of a fleeting trending topic.
So, in this fast-paced marketplace of smaller screens and even smaller attention spans, how can a rising talent like Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini get noticed?
By cosplaying as a cow, apparently.
Doja Cat’s ridiculous song “Mooo!” became a viral sensation last year, racking up 58 million views on YouTube and instantly raising her stock. Of course, it’s pretty easy to write off a woman pretending to be a cat pretending to be a cow as a lowbrow stunt, but it’s much deeper than that. Yes, “Mooo!” is absolutely absurd but its double entendres are shockingly well-written and Doja is very self-aware, never taking things too seriously. Doja is like Missy Elliott for meme culture – there’s a definite method behind the madness and a ton of talent behind the jokes.
Just like Missy, Doja also has no problems embracing her sexuality. And while I’ve been critical of recent female artists who don’t seem to offer much besides stripper skills, save your think pieces – I’m no prude. I came up in the Lil Kim era, after all. But what puts Doja above her peers is her boundless creativity. While others come off as indistinguishable twerking clones, Doja is an Oculus Rift in a galaxy of outdated Sega Saturns.
Doja’s sophomore album, Hot Pink, is just as unpredictable as her infamous videos. From track to track, you never know what she’s gonna pull out of her bag next. It makes for an incredibly fun listen.
Album opener “Cyber Sex” is ’bout to be every cam girl’s theme song. But instead of the predictable “show n’ tell” lyrics and iPhone metaphors, Doja’s bars drip with humor – from being paranoid about her parents finding her collection of freaky vids or to being annoyed when she realizes her guy is a perv who was profiled on Dateline. She’s anything but predictable.
On that note, probably the most unpredictable thing here is Hot Pink‘s diverse production. The guitar-driven “Rules” sounds like Doja is on a paper chase through the wild west. This track really spotlights her underrated flow – she’s great at alternating her cadence mid-verse yet never losing her place on beat.
Doja goes from a shimmering roller-skate jam on “Say So” to romping through heavyweight synths on “Addiction.” Her R&B-tinged vocals are pretty impressive on the former, and she’s able to deftly mix those same vocals with her usual rap bars on the latter.
A LOT of rappers try to rap and sing on the same track these days. Very few pull it off this well.
Doja’s all over the place in the best of ways. She does her best 90s Janet impression on “Like That” while the shimmering single “Juicy” drags us back to the 2010s with an incredibly addictive bounce. One minute she flips a Blink-182 sample to allow her to play out her pimp fantasies on “Bottom B****,” the next she’s sampling freaking B2K of all things for “Streets,” slowing it down to a complete crawl for a murky cut right out of FKA Twigs’ eclectic playbook.
From the R&B knock of “Talk Dirty” to the breezy vibes of “Better Than Me,” which feel straight out of a Malibu vacation, every single song is a completely different experience. Doja leaves her inhibitions at the door and you never know what you’re going to get next.
Sure, it’s quite clear Doja has a one-track mind – this woman loves talking about sex – but Doja’s playbook is so deep that things never feel repetitive. What the album lacks in cohesion is made up for tenfold in personality.
In a year filled with bland releases, Hot Pink knows how to stand out in a crowd.
What else would you expect from the cat lady in the cow costume?
Best tracks: “Rules,” “Say So,” “Streets”
4 stars out of 5