DeJ Loaf #AndSeeThat’sTheThing

[Columbia; 2015]

Styles: hip-hop, R&B, trap
Others: Big Sean, Future, Kid Ink, Drake, Young Thug, Birdman

While Detroit trap-rap songstress DeJ Loaf is no doubt best known for “Try Me” — the 2014 single that went viral after garnering attention from Drake, prompting him to quote its lyrics on his Instagram — she has also released a string of mixtapes over the last three years. Arguably the most notable of these, 2014’s Sell Sole, comprised tracks like the quintessential “Blood,” featuring TMT favorite Young Thug and Birdman, exhibiting her characteristically breezy, tongue-in-cheek raps alongside stupefyingly simple hooks.

If anything, it left me wanting to hear much more of the latter, which radiate with an infectious palpability, setting her apart from her contemporaries. As a consequence, she has also appeared as a go-to hook provider for acts such as Kid Ink, Game, and Chevy Woods, with all wanting a piece of her “let’s just be honest, let’s just be real” affection. Her playfulness is addictive; you want to join in the fun, but at the same time, there’s an authority affirming that you’ll never really be on the same level, though you try nonetheless. In effect, when she sings “Try me… I ain’t plain wit nobody,” she’s to the point.

As her debut EP, #AndSeeThat’sTheThing contains much of the same mischievous domination. Like Sell Sole, #AndSeeThat’sTheThing’s best moments lie in between the verses and otherwise involve DeJ’s sleek, wafting hooks against subtly insinuated melodies. This is perhaps most eminent on the tracks “Back Up” and “Hey There,” which feature Big Sean and Future respectively — incidentally the two tracks previously released. “Hey there, hey there” reiterates DeJ on the Future collaboration — a slow, grinding beat coated in pitched, celestial pads. The round-the-clock repetition of “hey there” characterizes the incessant relentlessness of DeJ herself, unwilling to let “Try Me” be the be-all and end-all. The same goes for personal favorite “Back Up,” which finds DeJ delivering a similarly unremitting tide of plain talk and naked truth over a storm of hand claps, snare drums, and fluffy synth bass: “I said woo, I said I know, I know, I know/ I said bitch back up off me/ I said woo, I said bitch back up off me/ I said woo…”

There’s a lighthearted nature on first impressions, in part due to the grace with which the hooks are carried through the air, but this is owed to DeJ’s skill. There’s obviously a genius capacity involved in crafting these songs the way she does. There’s no bullshit and no pretentious snobbery. The songs are not overblown and the simplicity is well executed. On closing track “We Winnin,” DeJ is defiant: “Spill my name in the game I know they want me to fail/ Tell ‘em I’m lit, tell ‘em I ain’t going nowhere/ Know you ain’t light it up, put your lighters in the air/ We winnin’, we winnin’ keep that hater shit over there/ Yo, yo, keep that hater shit over there.” In her eyes, it’s a song about being “in this forever. No matter how much hate, slack I get from the non believers. I’m great. I’m Winnin. Relax and watch me work!”

Links: DeJ Loaf - Columbia

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