Doja Cat welcomes you to her bold, colorful and scandalous world on her sophomore album Hot Pink.
Whether it is Taylor Swift’s transition from Country Sweetheart to Pop Powerhouse, or Nicki Minaj’s incorporation of Pop and R&B to mostly Hip-Hop bodies of work, artists have been experimenting with different genres for years; and if 2019-breathrough stars Lil Nas X and Lizzo have managed to top the charts with singles that are difficult to fit into a unique category, they are certainly not the only genre non-conformists out there.
Doja Cat’s debut album Amala – released in March 2018 and upgraded almost a year later with new tracks such as the viral hit ‘Mooo!’ and the Rico Nasty-assisted Rap anthem ‘Tia Tamera’ – showcases a mixture of Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop on almost every track. Her versatility, witty lyricism and unmatched creativity have since sparked the interest of many, making her follow-up project Hot Pink a very exciting way to conclude the decade.
Doja Cat kicks off the album with ‘Cyber Sex’ and ‘Won’t Bite’, two songs that offer a refreshing take on her signature style from Amala, making the transition from one album to the other flow perfectly.
‘Cyber Sex’ is an ode Doja’s online boyfriend. On the dreamy chorus she sings “Wish you were here right now / All of the things I'd do / I wanna get freaky on camera / I love when we get freaky on camera”, she then effortlessly shifts to an exciting rap verse describing what seems to be a perfect modern-day romance (“And he don’t even scroll through insta / ‘Less he going through my pictures”). What makes the song so enjoyable – and an amazing album opener – is the singer’s animated personality that is perfectly reflected through voice and flow changes. For Doja, nothing is too racy lyrically (“surf that 'til I drown in all of your pics / Can't scroll down cause some of them dicks”), nor visually as she literally gets “freaky on camera” to the excitement of internet strangers and creates her own lab-boyfriend in the song’s official music video.
The singer’s wish for an artificial boyfriend might come from whoever the next track is about. On ‘Won’t Bite’, Doja Cat lets her man know she is sweet as long as she is treated well (“I’m such a good kitty, don’t put up fights / But if you trick me, baby, it gon’ get sticky / I might, bite”). It is another playful versatile song and has an incredibly catchy post-chorus. Additionally, American rapper Smino matches Doja Cat’s energy with the best guest appearance of the album.
Next up is ‘Rules’, a single that took the Hip-Hop Twitter community by storm after its release, two weeks before the album, with clips from the music video sometimes gaining tens of thousands of likes on the platform, and rightfully so. On one of her most heavily Rap records yet, Doja Cat is more assertive than ever and opens with the line “Said play with my pussy / But don’t play with my emotions” and continues with “If you spend some money / Then maybe I just might fuck ya”. She echoes that second idea on the first verse with the metaphor “break bread up, that butter my biscuit”, reiterating that she will only allow her partner to make love to her if he shares his fortune with her. However, what makes this track a real showstopper is the fantastic second verse, where Doja Cat proves she is more than worthy of her title of ‘rapper’ as she switches from one flow to another with incredible ease on many occasions, spits more bright bars, gives bold orders and radiates with confidence. The artist’s attitude on the track is flawlessly portrayed on its accompanying visuals where she plays the role of a head of mafia and shares the screen with a snake.
The singer and rapper proceeds to praise her best friend on the catchy ‘Bottom Bitch’ and sounds sexy as ever on the Disco influenced ‘Say So’ which almost sounds like it belongs on a Carly Rae Jepsen album.
‘Bottom Bitch’ and ‘Say So’ have very different styles that perfectly come together on ‘Like That’, probably the most talked-about track on Hot Pink after the tracklist was posted on social media a week early, due to the song’s mystery featured artist. Many fans made it their mission to get the name of her secret collaborator, but Doja never cracked, although she did debunk the very popular theory of a duet with Nicki Minaj. Other names like Kash Doll and Summer Walker seemed more plausible; and while Gucci Mane’s appearance turned out to be rather underwhelming, Doja Cat manages to carry the track and make it one of the album’s standout moments thanks to an infectiously enjoyable hook, another great and audacious rap verse, and a sultry outro.
Dreamy melodies and vocals are paired with explicit bars on the raunchy but romantic ‘Talk Dirty’. Doja Cat then seems almost euphoric on ‘Addiction’, as she puts her listener in a trance sustained by the mesmerizing ‘Streets’ and ‘Shine’.
The former sees the artist longing for a serious romantic relationship with the man of her dreams (“In my head, we belong / And I can’t be without you / Why can’t I find no one like you”).
The latter is a steamy and delightful track that mixes the regular sexual content with drips of wealth and luxury. The shining diamonds lyrical aesthetics are impeccably matched by the sonics of the record, incorporating a captivating beat, elegant instrumentals and a Charli XCX-like subtle and luscious use of autotune; which has by contrast been used excessively in recent hip-hop records as a lazy way to make anything sound bearable, proving yet again Doja Cat is highly meticulous when it comes to her craft.
This “calmer” part of the album concludes with confident and self-uplifting groovy track ‘Better Than Me’, on the chorus Doja Cat sings “All of them bitches ain’t better than me / I know you wanted somethin’ else at your feet / You gon’ figure out you lost one and that’s me”.
Finally, a remix version of the Amala bonus track ‘Juicy’ with an additional verse courtesy of American rapper Tyga closes the album to its most radio-friendly track. While the original version is impeccable, Tyga’s verse is a fun way to attract a wider audience and has proven successful, giving Doja Cat her first US Billboard Hot 100 entry after the release of the record’s official fruit-themed music video.
Overall the album is an extremely welcome project in contemporary music. Hot Pink is creative, daring, fun, sexual, scandalous, confident and very well put together, it sees Doja Cat continuing her journey as one of today’s most interesting new artists.
Ratings for individual songs
1. Cyber Sex – 9/10
2. Won't Bite (feat. Smino) – 7/10
3. Rules– 10/10
4. Bottom Bitch – 7/10
5. Say So – 9/10
6. Like That (feat. Gucci Mane) – 8/10
7. Talk Dirty – 7/10
8. Addiction – 8/10
9. Streets – 9/10
10. Shine – 10/10
11. Better Than Me – 7/10
12. Juicy (Remix) [with Tyga] – 7/10