New York City, NY — by Sophia Anderson
This story was originally published on New York University’s Washington Square News.
Doja Cat’s latest album is determined, bold and empowering in a way that makes for a fun listen. She’s celebrating small joys — friendships, her mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese — and demonstrating her lyrical skills. Yet while “Scarlet” solidifies Doja’s skills as a rapper, the substance sometimes falls flat.
“Scarlet,” released on Sept. 22, is threaded with her trademarks: intriguing ad-libs, playful lyrics and moments of softness that make it clear how happy Doja is now. The first track, “Paint the Town Red,” sets the tone with playful, devilish imagery and a Dionne Warwick sample. The song prepares the listener for a kind of resurrection — “I’m going to glow up one more time / Trust me, I have magical foresight” — Doja’s ready to play by her own rules and show the world what she can do with her rapping.
Several other songs on the album also echo this message, such as “Fuck the Girls (FTG)” and “Skull and Bones.” Even the final song, “WYM Freestyle,” ends the album on this same note, one that is amplified by her shifting vocal inflections and rich beats.
While I enjoyed the smoother vibe of the second half of “Scarlet,” some of the songs came across as unnecessary. Of the album’s back half, only “Agora Hills” and “Can’t Wait” memorably ground the album’s aggression in something softer. “Agora Hills” speaks to her romantic, vulnerable side: “Baby, can you call me back? I miss you / It’s so lonely in my mansion.” The second half of the album might be a refuge for those who enjoy Doja’s more affectionate side, especially if the first half was too harsh for them. While the album was meant to be a display of the rapper’s range, a few of the tracks fall short of this promise.
Read the rest of the story at Washington Square News.