Deen would pull a robbery with Lady of Rage over Rah Digga
I have to admit that writing about the latest rapper du jour generally feels like an odds making exercise. Rap writers are just tryna predict said rapper’s odds of success moving forward beyond their breakout song. For me, this exercise often boils down to evaluating potential singles and their hook making abilities. After all, this is 2014. If a rapper expects to make anything resembling a dent in the mainstream, he or she is gonna need to stay ‘hot’ or ‘relevant’ or ‘on fleek’ or whatever the fuck the kids are saying lately. Cynical? Certainly, but I don’t make the rules. And I’ve gotta say that unless Columbia Records messes this up fantastically, I think there’s enough raw potential in Dej Loaf to ensure that she’s a worthy investment moving forward.
In the simplest terms, the girl has ‘it’. The ‘it-factor’ is often a nebulous catch-all for charisma or star-power, which I happen to think Dej has in spades, but Sell Sole makes it fairly easy for this observer to quantify what’s impressive about her.
The first standout factor is that she can actually rap. Like, she can really spit and it’s immediately obvious on the first track, ‘Birdcall’. Placing a dope lyrical effort at the beginning of your project is an olive branch to those of us that still stan for rappers that, you know, can actually rap. I don’t know about other folks, but if you show me that you have the bars early on, I’ll probably put up with a lotta other bullshit. That’s not to claim that she discards the bars after ‘Birdcall’, but it’s clear that she made an effort to show and prove ASAP.
Next, and probably most important, is her ear for beats and melodies. Even when some songs give off an incomplete air, you still hear the talent on display. She alternates between rapping, warbling and crooning with ease and I can’t really point to any shitty beats on the project. Her chemistry with the producer of her breakout single (‘Try Me’), DDS, is especially impressive. DDS helms around half of the project and I’d say that the best 4 or 5 tracks all come from that combination, including what should be her next single in ‘We Be On It’ (tangent alert).
If Columbia really wants to FLEX and guarantee Dej’s future success, they should consider begging Beyonce to hop on a remix of ‘We Be On It’. I know it sounds crazy but hear me out for a second. This song is fire all by itself, but Columbia should try selling it to Blue Ivy’s mom as a ‘Bow Down/I Been On’ redux/part 2/remix. The songs already share some elements – even down to Dej borrowing the ubiquitous ‘I woke up like this’ lyric and maybe I should stop writing these things while I take shits but I can hear the Creole Sunshine Goddess scatting all over this with attitude. OH GAWD! Bey gets some grit and shine (that she doesn’t NEED, chill #BeyHive), looks magnanimous as fuck and hops into the kingmaker business alongside Dre and Drake, and writers/”tastemakers” can finally stop pretending that they find anything that matters anymore. Anyone that matters for real in the rap mainstream is either white or got a co-sign from a more established artist – or Jimmy Iovine – or both. Am I a genius or what? A&R’s ain’t dead, they just scared. You’re welcome, Columbia Records. Hit me up any time.
But back to the lecture at hand. Dej’s next few projects, whether singles or full-lengths, should really just have a ton of DDS (and maybe Kelvin K. Brown – the other impressive producer on this) beats. DDS’s dreamy and key-laden soundscapes provide the perfect base for Dej to unfurl her warbly verses that manage to juxtapose the sweetest sentiments about her family, friends and success with rude ass threats and insults to anonymous scores of hating ass niggas and bitches. It’s a nice trick to master early on in a career, given that the top dog in rap at the moment can’t really do that shit without looking like a lightskin nigga ‘angrily’ storming a DC club after his DJ got slapped by a stripper. Or something. Allegedly. In Dej’ case, it’s obvious to me that we’re listening to genuine, as opposed to calculated or narcissistic sentiments, and that ought to take her far. She can really get away with making every kinda song, given that her breakout single manages to combine homicidal and generous urges on the same song without sounding awkward.
Then there’s the fact that she actually manages to sound sexy, which is really difficult to do in rap – even for women. In most instances, the shit sounds too sappy or too forced and we just settle for the visuals while we ignore the lyrics. Somehow, this 24-year old hobbit sized woman makes her points in that department with humor and by just being a dirty nigga with a propensity for Hennessy. If you don’t know about women that drink Henny, you best find out. Thank her later.
Of course, Sell Sole isn’t perfect. Dej Loaf doesn’t necessarily sound bad over the harder beats on the project, but they’re clearly weaker than the DDS stuff, so I’d rather she stuck to her strengths for now. She also doesn’t shine as much when she invites other rappers on to songs, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – most of my favorites are favorites because I get irritated 95% of the time anyone else shows up. These are minor quibbles though. I really believe that we have a new star on deck and I think she knows she’s up next too – she’ll probably convince you if you just try he… ummm, yeah, my bad? Y’all get the idea though.