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Doja Cat references past releases, drifts away from pop in “Scarlet 2 CLAUDE”

Deluxe album emphasizes new era for artist

<p>Doja Cat continues to showcase her versatility as an artist with “Scarlet 2 CLAUDE,” proving that she can escape any box that she may be confined to. </p><p>Courtesy of Braylen Dion</p>

Doja Cat continues to showcase her versatility as an artist with “Scarlet 2 CLAUDE,” proving that she can escape any box that she may be confined to.

Courtesy of Braylen Dion

Doubling down on her mission to shift away from the bubblegum pop sounds of her past hits, Doja Cat released the deluxe version of her 2023 album “Scarlet” on April 5 with little prior notice.

The album, “Scarlet 2 CLAUDE,” references the antagonist Claude Frollo from Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” The name of the deluxe edition serves as a metaphor that represents the pressures creatives face in the music industry — much like the pressures Frollo imposed upon Esmerelda throughout Hugo’s novel, according to Doja Cat. The project also features a new cover: a zoomed-in picture of Doja Cat’s natural hair. 

The album was leaked just two days before its scheduled release, but Doja Cat was seemingly unbothered by the event. In a now-deleted post on X, Doja Cat asked her followers, “What does it mean when someone leaks an album why do people get upset?” She went on to explain that she doesn’t care about streams — maintaining the nonchalant attitude she’s had throughout this era of hers — instead advising her fans to “look forward to the awesome things (she has) coming up!!”

Placed at the beginning of the album rather than the end, Doja Cat showcases her versatility throughout the seven new songs on the deluxe edition. Many of the tracks also reflect the aesthetics of Doja Cat’s previous releases and projects, incorporating genres outside of the hip-hop and trap sounds of “Scarlet.” 


Doja Cat channels nostalgia in the opening track, “ACKNOWLEDGE ME,” in which she raps about her annoyance with her partner’s behavior while setting her boundaries and boasting about her wealth and popularity. “DISRESPECTFUL,” a standout on the deluxe album, could easily be confused for a KAYTRANADA production with its house-inspired sound that would fit perfectly into Doja Cat’s debut album, “Amala.” The outro of this track features Doja Cat and a chorus of male voices calling on various groups to “get rowdy” with a catchiness that gives the song viral potential.  

The interestingly titled “URRRGE!!!!!!!!!!” is a more trap-inspired track that feels like a continuation of “Fuck the Girls (FTG)” from the original release of “Scarlet,” as Doja Cat raps about practicing self-control when wanting to fight her critics. An outstanding guest appearance from A$AP Rocky on the track, one of only two features on “Scarlet 2 CLAUDE,” steals the spotlight from Doja Cat. Riddled with rhymes and double entendres, his verse highlights his excellent writing skills while proving that it may be impossible for Doja Cat to choose a bad feature for any of her songs. Doja Cat asserts her dominance over her critics in the next track “OKLOSER.” The playful and fun vibe of the track — produced by longtime collaborator Yeti Beats, among others — is reminiscent of Doja Cat’s old SoundCloud releases, “NINTENDHOE” and “u w u.”

The lead single of the deluxe album, “MASC,” features a guest appearance from Teezo Touchdown. On the track — an antithesis of her previous single “Agora Hills” — Doja Cat discusses her issues with a lover, repeatedly singing, “Boy, we way too old / For this shit.” Teezo Touchdown’s almost spectacular verse — which consists of both rapping and singing — is overshadowed by his off-putting repetition of “I need your feet cuddlin’ mine.” The accompanying music video strays away from the high-budget looks of Doja Cat’s past music videos, instead opting for a more simplistic set design: a spotlight and a blue stage. Overt references to horror — a theme seen across the previous music videos for “Scarlet” — are also absent, replaced by subtle references to spiders and bat skeletons in a video focused on the artists’ high fashion. 

Doja Cat flaunts her wealth and diamonds on the track “PISS,” which is similar to a revised version of “Shine” from her sophomore album “Hot Pink.” Attentive listeners may even notice a creatively-placed sample of Doja Cat’s own song “Love Life” playing in the background during the spoken word outro. “HEADHIGH,” much like many of the previous tracks, reflects Doja Cat’s past sounds. The track evokes memories of “Purrr!” — Doja Cat’s debut EP. The track — whose first verse sounds somewhat like a voicemail — is the most personal on the deluxe album, tackling Doja Cat’s struggles with self-confidence and criticism. Doja Cat addresses her estranged relationship with her father in the second verse, rapping, “Fatherless, I do act so fatherless / Except that’s not actin,’ actually, I lack some confidence.” She then fights back and expresses sympathies for her critics, encouraging them to be kinder and take control of their lives, rather than waste time fighting with her on the Internet. 

Doja Cat continues to showcase her versatility as an artist with “Scarlet 2 CLAUDE,” proving that she can escape any box that she may be confined to. With her headlining gig at Coachella and the European leg of her “Scarlet Tour” scheduled in the upcoming weeks, one can only attempt to predict the creativity Doja Cat will unleash as she explores what it truly means to be an artist and performer. 


Manav Musunuru

Manav is a sophomore from Indiana, concentrating in International and Public Affairs. In his free time, he likes attempting the daily Connections puzzle or falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes.

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