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Album Review: Doja Cat – ‘Planet Her’

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It’s always a special thing to see an artist that started their career one way then blast off into mega superstardom in what almost seems like overnight. For Doja Cat, her career trajectory has been an interesting-yet-fascinating one. Now, she’s bringing out all the stops for her highly-anticipated third studio album, Planet Her. 

The album title and fictional planet was first introduced last year during the intro of Doja’s 2020 MTV Video Music Awards medley performance of “Say So” and “Like That.” Since the release of her sophomore album Hot Pink in 2019 and “Say So” going number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Doja has teased her pending new album since last year, only to be pushed back by the surprise popularity in the album’s fan favorite “Streets” (thanks to the Tik Tok silhouette challenge) being released as the set’s final single. To properly kick off the Planet Her era, the 25 year-old singer/rapper released the “Say So” cousin track “Kiss Me More” featuring SZA, which is still hanging heavy on the Billboard Hot 100 reaching a new peak of number four this week, as well as the recently released promo single “Need To Know.”

On the album, things kicks off already with a vibe straight to the intergalactic Afro-beats styling of “Woman,” co-written by Jidenna. The worldwide musical theme continues with the island-tinged “Naked,” already starting the album off on a high gear to show the different feels that can be found on this Planet Her space ride. The genres take a shift on “Payday,” a pop-friendly offering with a verse by Young Thug that actually compliments the track, while another album cut “Imagine” carries a similar tone and vibe. We then get re-familiar with Doja’s animated raps on the Y2K-produced “Get Into It (Yuh),” which is almost like an ode to her “Say So” remix collaborator Nicki Minaj, showing off her true stan card towards the end with a shout to the Queen of Rap’s often forgot about debut single “Massive Attack” (“Thank you, Nicki, I love you / Got that big rocket launcher”). Speaking of recent collaborators, Doja brings Ariana Grande to Planet Her on the addictive mid-tempo “I Don’t Do Drugs,” adding to their list of collaborations like “Motive” and the “34 + 35” remix both lifted from Ari’s Positions album. 

The album at this point begins to take on a more subtle tone. Doja takes us to a fantasy world with the pillowy “Love to Dream,” showcasing a different side to her singing vocals that may have some surprised. The album’s latest single “You Right” featuring The Weeknd has Doja taking a break from rapping and second guessing her guy back at home while wanting to dip off with another, flowing well with the laid back production that still has a space-like energy thanks to producer Dr. Luke. Another song that The Weeknd would’ve fit perfectly on is the dark “Been Like This,” which sounds like a late night drive on the stars to get you in your feels.

But don’t get it confused, because Doja lets you knows she has “Options” on the bouncy number that’s one of the highlights featuring Dreamville rapper JID. Another highlight is Doja’s inclusion of “Ain’t Shit,” which became a fan favorite for its in your face lyrics that she previewed on one of her many IG lives during quarantine in 2020 and now sure to be a lot of IG captions this summer now that it’s out to the masses. “Alone” is a mellow number that shows off a vulnerable side to Doja with a rap verse style almost reminiscent of the late TLC rapper Left Eye. Closing out the record is the album’s lead single “Kiss Me More,” proving a point that it’s the perfect ending to the space odyssey known as Planet Her.  

Ever since her debut EP Purrr! in 2014 (pre-Rolling Ray’s catchphrase) and her official debut album Amala in 2018, Doja has had a steady rise to the acclaimed artist she is today. Yeah, there’s been more than a few controversies along the way, but it’s the talent that sticks out more than anything. She has been setting a new standard of award show performances since last year – who else can change up the arrangement of one song and give it a new life each time? Also, her collaborations – high profile or not – has shown her versatility in many ways. Which is why it was important for Amala to release this album. Planet Her takes bits of her previous works and showcases them in a new, polished way that highlights her growth. The album is one of the finest crafted pop/rap/R&B albums released probably since Nicki’s Pink Friday debut. At one point, Doja was just the “B**** I’m a cow” (“Mooo!”) girl when the song and its quirky video went viral in 2018. Slowly but surely, Doja is now a household name and has proven her status beyond being the “meme girl” to stay while bringing us into her world of visuals and creative excitement on Planet Her.

Planet Her is now available on all streaming platforms and digital music retailers via Kemosabe/RCA Records.