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‘Hot Pink’ is red hot

Doja Cat dodges sophomore slump

<p>Only on her second album, Doja Cat is already honing her craft.&nbsp;</p>

Only on her second album, Doja Cat is already honing her craft. 

The past year and a half has been eventful for up-and-coming singer-rapper Doja Cat. In summer 2018, she rose to prominence with the release of her cow-themed song “Mooo!,” quickly becoming an internet meme. Following this, her 2019 song "Juicy" with Tyga scored her first Billboard Hot 100 entry. With the recent release of her sophomore album — “Hot Pink” — Doja Cat is on the fast track to rap fame and solidifying herself as a legitimate contender in the rap game. 

In an interview with Exclaim, the songstress said, “I named the album “Hot Pink” because I wanted people to feel that before they got into the music that it felt passionate, warm and welcoming.” She went on to describe herself as “more refined” with this album release. True to her word, as a body of work, “Hot Pink” sees Doja Cat find her niche both sonically and artistically.

The “Tia Tamera” singer finds her groove artistically in “Hot Pink” by exploring her skills as a rapper and perfecting her lyrical style. Her debut album, “Amala,” relies heavily on singing. Many of the tracks sounded more R&B leaning, similar to the sounds of artists like Tinashe and Jhené Aiko. While singing is still present on “Hot Pink,” Doja Cat perfects her rapping in this album with precise rhymes. 

The evolution is most evident with “Rules,” a midtempo, guitar-based track where Doja Cat emotively raps the lines, “telling me this and that, the third / That s—t for the birds, I'm ghosting / If you don't dive in that p—sy like dolphins/ If you don't dive in that p—sy like oceans,” barely pausing for a breath. Such rapid-fire, expressive rapping calls to mind early Nicki Minaj and displays how much Doja Cat has grown as a rapper.

On this LP, Doja Cat claims her title as one of the most clever lyricists in the rap game at the moment. Her use of witty and overtly sexual lyrics again places her in the same category as other rap greats, this time amongst the likes of Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown. A prime example of this is the line, “Teach me how to jerk, make that kitty learn.” The line is both an innuendo for masturbation and a reference to the 2009 Audio Push song “Teach Me How to Jerk.” Being able to write lyrics that leave so much for listeners to unpack shows the lyrical prowess of Doja Cat.

The production on “Hot Pink” is where listeners truly see Doja Cat flourish. This is particularly evident with the middle portion of the album. Featuring production from Kurt Mackenzie, Ari PenSmith and P2J — who produced for artists like Maroon 5, GoldLink and Beyoncé respectively — the album has a groovy, synth and bass-heavy sound. Despite this sound, the songs still maintain their hip-hop sensibilities. The standout song production-wise is “Say So.” It features an infectious bassline reminiscent of tracks like “Get Lucky” from Daft Punk and “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. The heady harmonies of Doja Cat combined with the bassline perfectly encapsulate the warm feeling used to describe the album. 

Only on her second album, Doja Cat is already honing her craft. With the help of her production team, she creates songs that have enough pop touches to go mainstream, yet still fit perfectly in the genre of hip-hop. Her lyricism, while sometimes vulgar, is witty and catchy. Each of her lines is an earworm — easily getting stuck in the head of the listeners. Many artists struggle with the release of their second album. Plagued by the sophomore slump, they fail to live up to the expectations set with their debut. Doja Cat not only avoids the sophomore slump — she pummels it. Surpassing expectations set by her first album and setting the bar high with her second, she leaves listeners eagerly awaiting her third.