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The journey to Doja Cat’s “Planet Her” is better than the destination itself

<p>Doja Cat is running the pop-rap game at the moment.</p>

Doja Cat is running the pop-rap game at the moment.

Doja Cat is running the pop-rap game at the moment. The “Say So” songstress is the whole package. Her musical versatility is unmatched — she sings effortlessly over disco-inspired tracks like “Kiss Me More,” but she can also traverse genre boundaries to make rock-influenced songs like “Bottom B*tch.”

This versatility translates to the stage where Doja captivates her audience. In 2020, she kept what seemed like millions of performances of “Say So” fresh by incorporating metal, broadway and sci-fi themes into various performances.

Off-stage, Doja shines perhaps even brighter. Of all the numerous stars to rise to fame among Gen-Z audiences, she stands out. She possesses an ingenuity when using social media that allows her to be in on the joke rather than punchline. She provides the glitz and glam that comes with being a celebrity, yet her ability to be effortlessly memeable makes following her on social media feel as if she is an internet friend. 

Despite all these traits, almost none fully translated to her third studio album, “Planet Her.” The rapper’s penchant for visuals are seen with “Planet Her.” The album photoshoot — shot by David LaChapelle — is sleek, glossy and intergalactic. In the music videos “Need to Know” and “Kiss Me More,” the singer creates a hyper-feminine, futuristic world far from Earth where humans are the extraterrestrials. 

The aesthetics extended all the way down to minute details such as pre-saving the album. Prior to its release, if fans pre-saved the album they received a ticket to board InterstellHER. 

While the takeoff for “Planet Her” was smooth sailing with the aesthetics and visuals, Doja Cat missed the landing with the album itself. The worldbuilding is lacking — there is no backstory for “Planet Her.” Who inhabits the planet? What makes Earth so appealing? This failure to provide any worldbuilding consequently impacts the album itself.

It is a solid third album, but it fails to live up to the hype built by its visuals and name. Delivering something in the vein of “The Archandroid” by Janelle Monáe that tells a thought-out story with a fitting sound could have made this album fit its out-of-this-world name. 

The album does contain catchy songs like the Afrobeat-inspired opener, “Woman,” or the album’s standout — “Get Into It (Yuh).” The track encapsulates everything that makes Doja Cat's music infectious. Taking inspiration from an internet meme, the song contains multiple cultural references, yet the comedic sensibility of the track does not detract from Doja’s captivating delivery and flow.   

Unfortunately, catchy songs do not make a stellar album. Without the theme, the album would stand on its own as a cohesive pop-rap album. However, the inclusion of such a grand theme makes it feel as though Doja Cat produced a half-baked concept album. “Planet Her” would benefit not only from worldbuilding but also sonic risk-taking. Channeling the sounds of artists like Bjork, Kate Bush or even someone like Dev Hynes would give the album the edge it desperately needed. 

It is abundantly clear from Doja Cat’s quick and meteoric rise to fame that she has what it takes to be a star. She can sing, rap, perform and has the personality and digital presence to hold the attention of Gen Z’s rapidly changing interests. She is by no means on her way out. But the question remains — if she does not deliver artistically, how long and how bright will her star shine? 

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