Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Scarlet distorts the world of hip-hop for Doja Cat’s own gain


Release date: 22 September 2023
Doja Cat Scarlet cover
22 September 2023, 05:00 Written by PJ Somervelle

It feels like it has been years since Doja Cat has been stoking the fires of online Stan Wars, feeding her pet internet with attention.

Triple bluffing trolls and onlookers alike, anxiously unsure if these are episodes of a pop star’s meltdown or just endless streams of self-deprecating humour. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if everything was real or none of it was. Safe to say we witnessed a grand fan exodus, in a polarising twist of events while other stars were exposed in much uglier ways.

Now that Scarlet has been unveiled, a mammoth 17-track album full of adrenaline-soaked highs (“Demons”, “Wet Vagina” and “F*ck The Girls (FTG)”) and more introspective rap jams like “Love Life” and “Skull And Bones”. Doja Cat has finally executed that rap album she promised all those tweets ago. The internet has been divided ever since and it certainly will be again this weekend.

One thing has to be said, Doja Cat has not lost any of her ability to paint a vivid picture or create a hit. While Hot Pink (2019) and Planet Her (2021) – Doja’s two previous commercially acclaimed bodies of work – cemented her as one of the top acts in the world, whom no one could quite manage to pigeonhole effectively, equal parts rap, R&B and pop. It all seemed to take a darker turn when the artist’s own body started to gather more ink and her feed started to attract more occult artefacts. Gone was the sugar-coated glossy feed.

Scarlet, is for all intents and purposes a new world that Doja Cat has woven. While she’s always had a knack for vocal gymnastics with her signature rasp, this new darker chapter is full of bravado, vulgarity, soul samples and thumping 808 drums. There are also clear homages to the last 50 years of hip-hop. There’s also a lot of anger and surprisingly, a lot more introspection.

It’s inevitable that “Paint The Town Red” will sit in the charts until the end of the year. But there are other tracks that certainly grab our attention, the venomous vim of “F*ck The Girls (FTG)”, crude hooks tuned for arenas screaming “I bring the drip / Like wet vagina” (“Wet Vagina”). On “Skull And Bones” she raps “I’ma make it through 27 / Y’all Superstitious”, highlighting how deadly pop stardom has been for those veering dangerously into their late 20s. There is more reflection on the over-exposure of celebrity culture and the uber-closeness ingrained in parasocial relationships. Doja has made a point of highlighting the faux care that fans have for her. But the message is clear: “Fans ain't dumb / but extremists are” (“Paint The Town Red”).

The album is consistently rap-heavy with some more classic Doja-pop sprinkled around. It combines all of Doja’s past lives with some more heavy-hitting punchlines. It feels like a stark departure from her previous commercial efforts, while still showcasing some clear hits like “Paint The Town Red”, “Gun”, “Go Off”. She ends the album with a heavily produced trap freestyle where she’s shouting every line and “F*CK THIS BEAT” as the production fades to black.

She’s certainly someone not to be underestimated.

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