What do you get when you mix a Mario Kart 64 instrumental with the most threatening drill lyrics of all times and a lullaby-esque auto-tuned voice? You get Hip-Hop’s catchiest song of the year; “Try Me” by Dej Loaf.
Pronounced “Day-je Loaf”, the 23 year old female rapper from Detroit has been making waves this past month with her breakout single entitled “Try Me”. The MC has been hitting over three million views on YouTube in less than a month, getting co-signs from the likes of Diddy, Drake ,Wiz Khalifa and officially inking a record deal with Columbia Records. In the lights of her sudden success we wonder if we should believe all the hype surrounding her.
There is no one more excited than us that there is a new female presence in Hip-Hop. With the emergence of new female rappers like Angel Haze, Detroit Che and Dreezy coupled with the return of Remy Ma and resurgence of “rapping” Nicki Minaj, the female frontier is only getting stronger and Dej’s new found fame is helping fortify it. Similar to Nicki Minaj though, Dej Loaf has gone through a few different persona changes during her time in the rap game, in what seems to be an attempt to “find her sound”. She wasn’t always rapping like the hardest gangster out.
Looking back, you will see that Dej Loaf has been around for a minute now. Unlike, Trinidad Jame$ who started rapping 8 months before he got signed to a major label, Dej has been in the streets for a couple years. Her debut was way back in 2012 with the release of her mixtape Just Do It. The independently released tape had a few tracks that got some views and spins but probably for the wrongs reasons. Lead track “College” sounds like a friendlier version of Kreayshawn if she was blandly rapping about being a college student at some random institution in Michigan. The rest of the tape doesn’t get much better with tracks like “Ay Yah” which features poorly made beats and have a grand total of about 10 coherent words.
Dej Loaf was not destined for Hip-Hop greatness back in 2012. After what seemed to be a multiple year hiatus, she made a major come back with “Try Me”. Dropping the track in late July of this year, things didn’t start heating up until late September when the music video was released on YouTube and then just like that, 3.5 million views later, here we are.
So what changed in those two years? What makes this song any different from her old stuff?
For starters, the song’s beat is extremely easy to listen to. As mentioned above, it sounds like a backing track for a vintage Super Mario video game. All the cartoon-y tingles and shimmers play the perfect background for Dej’s lullaby vocals. Her voice’s natural melodic quality makes it seem as if it were incorporated into the beat. This combo equates in the catchiest song of the year. It is impossible to not humm this song immediately after you hear it. Although the beat is part of the new an improved Dej Loaf, the lyrics are really what stands out here.
On “Try Me”, Dej is rapping about the most gutter/gangster/hood topics imaginable. The first four bars are a perfect depiction of the song’s entirety: “Let a n***a try me, try me/I’m a get his whole mothaf***in’ family/And I ain’t playin wit nobody/F**k around and I’m a catch a body.” After hearing that opener, it’s hard to remember that the innocent girl rapping about skipping sociology class back in 2012 is now making death threat records.
Don’t get it twisted, ignorant, gutter, drill music definitely has its place in Hip-Hop. The energy that those songs bring is truly unrivaled despite the message that is being portrayed. It serves its purpose without a doubt. However, the question of authenticity arises because of her polarizing persona from one year to the next. As soon as you look back on YouTube and see her rapping about her dorm room and campus life, not only does the music sound different but her entire image has made a full 180 degree flip. Rappers go through style changes all the time so this is really nothing new or career ending but to be taken with a grain of salt. It just makes it hard to buy into all the hype just yet.
Dej has reportedly signed to Columbia Records for upwards on a million dollars which seems a little high for a rapper with no solid foundation as a rapper or even an artist for that matter. A rapper having only one song that goes insanely viral with no real substantial background doesn’t merit a million dollar record deal. On top of that, Dej went from college rapper to murder kingpin in the matter of a year, imagine what persona she might take on in another year or two; there is just too much risk.
On the bright side, her new mixtape Sell Sole shows a few signs of rap game prosperity. The beats are more full and can match her melodic voice for almost the entire 43 minutes. Her rhymes are tighter and make more sense than anything on “Try Me” while still being catchy and moderately singable. Some tracks like “I Don’t Know” and “On My Own” sound like empty French Montana throwaways but some others like “Bird Call” and “Me U Hennessy” have a surprising honesty that she’s never shown before. It’s far from a perfect project but Dej gets some wood on the ball with this one.
So should you believe the hype surrounding Dej Loaf? Ultimately, it’s up to you. Based on her track record and shaky history, there is no guarantee she will be the new female God MC by any stretch. Obviously stranger things have happened in this culture and anything can become reality; but the odds are against her. On the other hand her latest single and mixtape do prove she has the potential to make catchy songs that will please the masses. Only time will tell whether Dej Loaf is a one hit wonder or not.
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