Doja Cat’s ‘Scarlet’ album review

A cohesive and artistically interesting direction for Doja Cat’s fourth musical venture.
Despite several songs and feature verses that prove otherwise, several people tended to constantly (and incorrectly) label Doja Cat as a pop singer, who only rapped on pop beats. It seems that Doja Cat finally had enough of these comments, as she makes it known with this new album that she’s a hip-hop rapper through and through. On Sept. 22, Doja Cat released “Scarlet,” her fourth album that showcases a visually and sonically different side of herself. Unlike “Hot Pink” or “Planet Her,” both albums with a more feminine aesthetic highlighting her versatility, “Scarlet” is a predominantly hip-hop album with no features and a more cohesive sound. I was extremely skeptical of whether I would like the album at first, given the single choices, but once I heard the album tracks, “Scarlet” quickly became one of my favorite albums.

The opening title track is the infamous “Paint the Town Red,” Doja’s second single off the album that was released on Aug. 4, which earned Doja Cat her first solo No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The song itself has Doja Cat rapping about staying successful despite her haters or critical fans of her former pop music. Personally, “Paint the Town Red” is not my favorite song off the album, not just because of the overall satanic aesthetic, but because it’s a little too slow-tempo for me to enjoy.

I enjoyed the following track “Demons” a bit more. The song has a spine-chilling beat with a hard-hitting chorus, perfect for unleashing your anger. However, the first verse is embarrassingly lackluster and pales in comparison to the second verse and to the verses on other songs on the album. I think it would’ve sounded a lot better if she featured another artist in that first verse instead.

The next track is provocatively titled “Wet Vagina.” Surprisingly, the song sounds like something you’d hear in a mosh pit, with the repeating and somewhat hilarious chorus, “I bring the drip with wet vagina.” I was pleasantly surprised with the song and think I could confidently rank it as the second-best song of the album.

Doja Cat takes more time to diss people in this album in true hip-hop nature, than she has in her previous albums. Doja Cat has claimed on Instagram that she’s dissing haters and overcritical fans, but people still think she is aiming jabs at one of the other popular female rappers. She claims “the whole damn world stay saying ‘fuck the girls’ ” in the fourth track of the album entitled “Fuck the Girls,” where she’s dissing an unknown person over low string-plucking and some drums. The fifth track, “Ouchies,” entails Doja Cat once again dissing an unknown person, this time over an old-school hip-hop beat. On “97,” the sixth track of the album and my third favorite overall, Doja Cat paints the picture of someone looking “like a butterface, butter body, butter toes” over a classical piano.

The seventh track, “Gun,” takes my vote for the best song on the album. She had teased the song before on Instagram Live and I still do not understand why she did not make this song a single. Mimicking the style of her “Hot Pink” and “Planet Her” songs where she sings the chorus and first verse and delivers a lyrical rap in the second verse, Doja Cat shows she has not lost sight of her pop-rap music, but has elevated it.

The eighth track titled “Go Off,” switches things up by hyping up an unknown woman, similar to her 2019 song “Bottom Bitch.” The ninth track, titled “Shutcho,” was a last-minute addition to the album, finding her dissing an unknown person and found a way to rhyme “body bitch” with itself seven times in the second verse.

The 10th track is called “Agora Hills,” which also received a music video on the day of the album’s release. We begin a part of the album that is full of love songs. In this track, Doja Cat cleverly switches between rapping with a normal cadence to a valley girl accent throughout, sprinkled with voicemails. Sonically, it’s somewhat similar to her song “Need To Know” and definitely a standout track on the album. The 11th track called “Can’t Wait” follows the romantic themes of the last track, where she raps about loving how she is around her lover and how she wishes to be with them forever. On track 12 “Often,” we find Doja Cat singing about loving how well her lover performs in bed. The 13th track titled “Love Life” finds Doja rapping about loving every aspect of her life: friends, fans, mom and her self-confidence.

The 14th track is titled “Skull and Bones,” where she addresses all the rumors of her selling her soul to Satan — of course she denies the claims and instead explains “God blessed me, you should respect Him.” The 15th track is titled “Attention,” the first single off the album that dropped in late June, where she made it known she was not going to be afraid of what other people think of her. The penultimate track of the album, “Balut,” oddly named after the Filipino delicacy, closes with Doja Cat Cat rapping over a smooth jazz/soul beat with clever lines like “dishes on my ass, still I’m thicker than some oatmeal.” “WYM Freestyle” is the last track and also a last-minute addition to the album. While it is not the strongest song, it is our first look at Doja Cat’s freestyling abilities, which are not half bad.

My overall review is that this is probably Doja Cat’s best album and arguably one of the best albums to come out in 2023. The album’s single choices, in my opinion, were not the strongest, but the album as a whole was a very enjoyable work. My favorite songs were “Gun,” “Wet Vagina” and “Agora Hills.” I especially enjoy that even though this album is more sonically coherent, she showcases her versatility by not rapping about the same topic or over similar beats on each song. The four music videos for “Demons,” “Paint the Town Red,” “Attention” and “Agora Hills” are all worth checking out as well. Definitely, an album you should listen to if given the time, as it’s extremely different from her older popular songs like “Say So” or “Kiss Me More.”

Post Author: Michael Tran