The first track on Doja Cat’s fourth album Scarlet is “Paint the Town Red”, her latest number one hit single. After several months of fighting with fans and claiming her upcoming album will be a lot less commercial friendly, Doja Cat delivers a commercially friendly single, and makes it her album opener. After her initial lead single “Attention” failed to become the smash hit she hoped it would, she quickly recanted the idea of “Attention” being the grand introduction of Scarlet, and instead pushed “Paint the Town Red” as the start of the Scarlet era. This is not to say that “Paint the Town Red” is a bad song it most certainly is not, with its infectious hook, well implemented Dionne Warwick sample, and hard-hitting rap verses, it is no wonder the song is a success. This LP is Doja’s grand attempt to prove to the general public that she is indeed a female rapper, and not just a pop star. In her third single “Demons” which happens to be the second song on the album, Doja raps “Lots of people that were sleeping say I rap now” which leans into the idea this album showcases her rap skills, which people have been overlooking, according to her. In the “Demons” video starring Christina Ricci, we see Doja Cat transform into a literal demon, depicting a much darker Doja than the general public is used to. While the song itself has a flow that fans of Baby Keem are familiar with, the single’s objective is to lean more into the rap ability of Doja Cat, even if the sound itself is not entirely original. This theme of a new Doja is pushed ever further with the introduction of her alter ego Scarlet,who appears fully nude and covered in fake blood. Scarlet makes appearances in both the “Attention” and “Paint the Town Red” music videos, and her presence represents the rebirth of Doja Cat. Her deep cuts in the album show off the rap skills she wants you to recognize, with songs such as “Wet Vagina”, “FTG”, “Ouchies”, and “97” which all follow “Demons”, we see what she can do when rapping is at the forefront. Following the J.Cole model of having absolutely no features on the record, we really get to know Doja more intimately without the distraction of another star on the song like her debut album Amala had. However, with her latest single “Agora hills”, we see a Doja Cat we are well acquainted with; the song perfectly captures a forbidden love story, with the hook stating “Kissing and hope they caught us Whether they like it or not”, we see her directly address her controversial relationship by doubling down much like she has previously done with her recent controversies. This leads into the main issue of Scarlet, the lead up Doja trolled her fans with on Twitter stating this album will be different, this is her rap exclusive album with no pop tracks, but then you hear songs such as “Agora Hills” and you quickly realize that’s not the case. The song directly after “Agora Hills” is “Can’t Wait”, which continues to show off Doja’s vulnerable side where she is yearning for her lover. The songs on the latter half of Scarlet focus on Doja’s ability to prove her own hooks while rapping her own verses. The overall issue with Scarlett boils down to the fact real Doja Cat fans already knew she was a rapper, and this album was for fans of “Say So” or “Kiss Me More”, who believed Doja could only make bubblegum pop. Longtime fans have made this point for years, and this is when Doja had to make sure there was no more speculation regarding her rap skills. However, regardless of whether or not Doja Cat can rap is not and should not be on fans minds; what’s on their minds is her love life where her legacy is being tarnished by her choice of lover, and if she wants the listener to buy into her love songs, maybe she should do a better job at hiding who she’s seeing. While the topic of who Doja Cat is seeing may be invasive, much like her idol Nicki Minaj, it is getting harder for fans to separate the art from the artist when their favorite artist turns a blind eye to the actions of their men. Doja has fought her fans on Twitter in defense of her boyfriend, the controversial Twitch streamer J. Cyrus, and it is clear arguing with her about the situation will not get her fans anywhere. Just like how she raps on the deep cut track “Love Life” “I love it when my life’s like this”, it is evident this new Scarlet era has brought out a happiness in Doja that we have yet to see prior. She is content being a rapper, she is happy with her boyfriend despite what you think, and she is happiest when she’s buried in controversy. Maybe we are finally seeing the real Doja Cat whether we like her or not.
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