3 out of 5 stars
Coming off the success of her viral sensation “MOOO!,” Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini, known by her stage name Doja Cat, released her sophomore album “Hot Pink” on Thursday, Nov. 7. The album toes the line between traditional, contemporary hip-hop and “dirty rap,” a subgenre of hip-hop that focuses primarily on sexual content. Featuring the same style and marketing as her first album, “Amala,” Doja’s “Hot Pink” presents a slew of raunchy singles, including “Rules” and “Juicy” featuring Tyga. The unreleased songs on the album, such as “Streets” and “Better Than Me,” are more in line with contemporary hip-hop, with some explicit lyrics but an overall lack of vulgar sexual content. Where “Hot Pink” falls a little flat, unfortunately, is in those unreleased singles, whereas its released singles carry the album. Taking out the released singles leaves you with an album lacking in energy, leaving listeners with something to be desired.
The opening song, “Cyber Sex,” introduces the album with an electro-pop beat behind synthesized vocals as she sings about modern digital relationships. “Swipe right ‘cause he thick and he handsome / love a sneak peek, when you free? Can we cam up?” Alluding to the Tinder age of dating, Doja continues to rap graphically about the nature of online dating.
“Rules,” the third song on “Hot Pink,” is the powerhouse single of the album. The single radiates power as Doja raps about her refusal to let men “play” with her “emotions.” A smooth beat combined with Doja’s clever lyrics creates a hilarious anthem that is sure to be a staple at any party. In reference to her constantly changing wigs, Doja throws shade at her critics, rapping “Bobs on me like Dylan, blondes on me like Hilton / Wendys on me like Williams, shouting, digging / look at me like I’m alien,” to which she claims to be “reptilian.” Combining lyrical prowess, fun electronic beats and racy lyrics, Doja knocks it out of the park with “Rules.”
Unfortunately, nine songs follow “Rules,” none of which possess the same energy and power. The album falls into lulls amongst songs like “Talk Dirty” and “Addiction,” where it’s easy to zone out to the music coming through the headphones. Although the songs are good, they have a hard time living up to the expectations set by some of the more high-energy songs on the album. The final song on “Hot Pink,” “Juicy,” is a remix of a song from “Amala” with an added feature from Tyga. This song carries the same energy as “Rules,” but Tyga’s verse does not change the song in a substantial enough way to make it feel new. This results in a rehashing of a song that is admittedly great but does not contribute any new content to this second album.
Doja’s “Hot Pink” is a solid hip-hop album. While it doesn’t take many risks or deviate too far from her debut album, it is packed with songs that, while mundane, are all decent. Where the album falls flat is in its marketing and track placement; releasing “Rules” before the album was a mistake, as it left Doja with nowhere to go on the album, and positioning it as the third one cannot help but feel as though “Hot Pink” leaves a little to be desired. Most Doja fans will find the filler songs on the album to be satisfactory, even if they don’t live up to the expectations set by the album’s pre-released singles.