Why “Scarlet” is Doja Cat’s Cry For Help


After a two-year gap from her last studio album “Plant Her”, Doja Cat’s comeback was a much anticipated release. The hype mainly came from the artist herself, who repeatedly distanced herself from her Grammy-award-winning previous album,  denouncing her old music as “fake,” while promising fans and news outlets that “real music” was on the horizon. Well, after listening to “Scarlet”, I kind of understand what she meant.

The entire album is essentially a diss track to everyone and everything said about her the last two years. For example, one of my top five songs off the album, “Ouchies,” is Doja telling her haters that they can’t fight her and win. She stays successful and boasts that she “doesn’t need another hit” because she’s already bigger than everyone else out there. Though it isn’t elevated from a lyrical or musical standpoint the sentiment is there, “Don’t you ever / Ever / In your life / Come for me”.

While Doja does everything in her power to show through her hip-hop hitters that she is stronger than the hate she’s getting, the lyrics and messages in her songs can’t help but seem ingenuine. In fact, I would venture to say that her words do nothing but make it clear that she is extremely bothered by all of the trash talk. Hidden in pockets of the F-Yous and I Don’t Give A F, there’s a young woman who wants the love and acceptance of someone. In “Love Life”, which to me feels like a nod to a Lauren Hill sound, Doja raps a love letter to her fans on the surface. But in the context of all of the blatant trolling and arguments she has exchanged, not to mention her complete disregard for the fan base that fell in love with her through “Plant Her,” I believe a more fitting interpretation of this song would be Doja’s expression of remorse. She admits that she has been problematic to her fans, but she wants them to still love her. She still wants to be wanted, which in turn, means that right now she isn’t. 

There is an air of sadness in the undertone of every song on the album that makes “Scarlet” a little hard to listen to. Some people might feel the album is underwhelming, but outside of her message, stylistically I appreciate what she does on the album. She masterfully hones in on a nostalgic R&B and Hip-Hop sound much like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and many other women in those genres. Her craft and artistry is there, but what she does with it really just feels like an over-glorified cry for help. Now, it could also be true that these songs exist to simply prove that she is desirable despite the people around her claiming otherwise, but as Doja said herself, these songs on her album are “real.” So, I can’t help but take the emotion in the music at face value. I believe she’s thriving, but there’s an underlying hurt and sadness that I can’t shake.

But what do I know? Maybe I should believe her hype, say f- you to all of the doubts, and “Paint The Town Red” with her. 

Featured image from Pitchfork



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