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Doja Cat’s “Scarlet” redefines her artistry, challenges controversy

Zoe Karibian
Doja Cat’s new album “Scarlet” has taken fans by storm following its release Sept. 21. According to Spotify, the track was the second-most played album during the week of Sept. 28.

Perhaps fed up with being considered too pop-oriented to be a legitimate rapper, as mentioned by the Independent, Doja Cat moved away from her previous dreamy style for her new album. Her new style is unrecognizable from previous tracks like the 2019 TikTok sensation “Say So,” replaced by a more intense, brooding sound on her latest release, “Scarlet.” 

However, it seems that Doja Cat is transitioning into a more unconventional phase of her career. In August 2022, she boldly shaved her head and eyebrows, claiming she never liked having hair. Additionally, Doja Cat made headlines when she appeared at Paris Fashion Week sporting an all-red, jewelry-encrusted Schiaparelli outfit that NPR states was labeled “demonic.”. It appears that Doja Cat’s recent actions have been more than personal preferences; they appear to be a deliberate marketing strategy aimed at creating a buzz and shaping a new, edgier image.

Leading up to the album’s release Sept. 21, Doja talked up “Scarlet” by calling her last two albums, 2019’s “Hot Pink” and 2021’s “Planet Her” – both multi-platinum smashes – as digestible pop hits that were only released for profit, according to IMDb.

Furthermore, Doja Cat has distanced herself from the controversial producer Lukasz Gottwald known as Dr. Luke, who worked on some of her most significant pop hits. This is evident through the absence of the blissful disco sound that characterize her previous songs. Instead, “Scarlet” portrays a grittier side of Doja Cat, making her come across as a rapper first and a singer second.


The album kicks off with the electrifying track “Paint The Town Red,” a wildly popular song that stands as the highlight of the entire record. Its infectious melodies and eerie undertones make it a well-deserved Halloween hit.

“Scarlet” is neatly split into two distinct halves. The first half exudes an unapologetically in-your-face energy, paying homage to the golden era of 90s boom-bap and the vibes of a 2000s mixtape with tracks like “97” and “Ouchies.” Meanwhile, “Demons” and “WYM Freestyle” feel more contemporary with pulsating 808s basslines.

The album takes a surprising turn in its latter half. Despite Doja’s initial commitment to a strictly rap-focused vision for “Scarlet,” songs like “Gun” and “Go Off” gracefully incorporate R&B influences and a dreamlike production style, adding an ethereal essence to the album. “Attention” weaves between airy choruses and bass-driven verses, leaving a lasting impression, whereas “Agora Hills” showcases Doja’s talent for crafting catchy melodies.

Throughout “Scarlet,” Doja delivers sharp responses to critics in the album’s more aggressive tracks like “Ouchies” and “Attention.” While the references are intriguing at first, they begin to exude a pettiness that detracts from the music. In “Ouchies,” Doja digs at rapper Remy Ma, who previously questioned her rap credibility. Her lyrics include lines like, “You full of Remy, now your face look tired. Used to be the baby ma, you marten now.” While this may resonate with her superfans, it may leave casual listeners questioning the album’s appeal. 

In the end, “Scarlet” shapes up to be an album that’s lengthy and occasionally repetitive, but ultimately compelling. The pursuit of settling scores seems to overshadow Doja’s creative expression, affecting the overall quality of the album. Her undeniable talent deserves a more captivating and enjoyable showcase. By the end of the album, it’s clear that she doesn’t owe anyone anything, as she takes on the persona of the demon her haters and fans accuse her of being.

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