Earlier on in the month, Doja Cat released her sophomore album, Hot Pink. A shameless proclamation of her sexuality and a justification of why she deserves attention, the album is comprised of 12 tracks that come together to show us what Doja Cat thinks, wants and, perhaps most importantly, craves. It is her openness and honesty that elevates Hot Pink from a simple November release into the album of the month.
The opening track, ‘Cyber Sex’, does exactly what you think it would. Steeped in sex from the outset as Doja proclaims she wants “to touch on you” and “get freaky on camera”, the main takeaway from the song is how much Nicki Minaj has influenced Doja. Whilst listening to it, it’s impossible not to compare it to Nicki’s flow and more specifically her style on earlier songs in her career such as ‘Super Bass’ and ‘Roman Holiday’. It’s Nicki’s old persona of the weird and the wonderful that Doja borrows from here and does so masterfully.
It’s interesting to listen to an artist who both raps and sings; she can at times sound like pop star Charli XCX and still switch up into a Nicki style flow. Whenever she slips into the latter’s brash flow, the profuse sexuality on display becomes more than expected and more than welcome.
the profuse sexuality on display becomes more than expected and more than welcome
Throughout other tracks such as ‘Talk Dirty’ and ‘Say So’, the sexual motif continues to be overwhelmingly prevalent and welcome. On her first album, Amala, the sexual element was there but there was a sense that she was constantly holding back something. On Hot Pink she’s free of the chains that were holding her down and the sex talk now feels a lot more natural, hot and confident.
Staying on the subject of Amala, Doja’s first album could be personified and labelled as ‘the popular and elusive girl’. If you agree with this labelling, then it’s impossible not to think of Hot Pink as ‘the hot, raw and direct girl’. Doja has experienced an evolution over these two albums from inexperienced to focused.
Doja presents herself as a very playful artist. On ‘Won’t Bite’ with Smino, the entire song is like a nursery rhyme in its sound but also sweet and sickly in its catchiness. ‘Won’t Bite’ is reminiscent of her 2018 hit, ‘Mooo!’ which, although not as lyrically serious as ‘Won’t Bite’, is just as silly. Just like this song, the rest of the album is littered with humorous pop culture references like “I ain’t Gwen, but this sh*t is bananas” and “Thumbs up identically like Olsens”. There’s no doubt that Doja is having fun on this album and she wants the listener in on it too.
There’s no doubt that Doja is having fun on this album and she wants the listener in on it too
A meaningful moment on the album is ‘Addiction’. Doja sheds most of the playfulness to let out her frustrations about her lust, and possibly love, for a man. With revelations such as “I just like to call him Daddy, cause the first one had up and left”, Doja uses this song as a cathartic experience whilst still delivering a sound that perhaps best fits into the album’s overarching theme of honesty.
In addition to Smino popping up in ‘Won’t Bite’, the album also has features from Gucci Mane and Tyga on ‘Like That’ and ‘Juicy’ respectively. The interaction between Doja and her fellow rappers results in two incredibly infectious songs that mean you have no choice but to at least bop your head to the beat.
The standout track on the album is ‘Rules’. It was released as a single in October and has racked up almost 12 million views on YouTube. What makes this song so appealing is that it is the song in which Doja feels the most confident about her rapping ability. The way she speeds through the verses is something of a masterclass in flow whilst the calm and collected energy she exerts whilst ordering a man to “play with my p*ssy, but don’t play with my emotions” shows how comfortable and dominant she can be in relationships.
Hot Pink’s strengths are in its lyricism, consistency and explicitness. The sexuality that Doja omits on every track delivers a juxtaposition of many intertwining topics such as love, abandonment and adultery that ultimately come together to give a raw portrait of the singer and rapper’s thoughts and desire to be unashamedly herself.