In the leadup to Planet Her Doja Cat promised to show the world her own musical vision. On 2019 breakthrough Hot Pink, a grab bag of musical styles, she had been finding out who she was. Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini began her musical career dreaming of being a rapper before discovering considerable talents as a vocalist and producer. Planet Her would be an elemental blend of all of these musical forces coming together in a way which felt right to her.
Arrival at Planet Her
Planet Her, like much of Doja Cat’s earlier material, does not fall into easy genre categories. Hot Pink showcased a variety of musical styles. It shifted between trap and do-wop with dazzling ease. Talent alone, however, does not make an artist. If Doja Cat’s earlier material lacked anything it was vision and a creative trajectory.
Which makes Planet Her all the more remarkable. Here, Doja Cat proves herself to be more than simply another variety act pop star. The album establishes her as an original artist and a great synthesizer of styles. Dlamini grew up when Rihanna, Grimes, Ariana Grande, SZA and The Weeknd were releasing their now-iconic albums. Now she does more than simply imitate these heroes. Instead, she pulls her musical inspirations together into something completely her own.
Doja Cat and The Weekend poses for a Planet Her promotional photo
Doja Cat defies outmoded genre categories
The elemental currents of pop, R&B and rap have been coming together (not always for the better) for more than two decades now. Often these collisions have been uncomfortable. Take Bruno Mars and B.O.B.‘s ‘Nothing On You’ for example. Or consider parachute performances like Snoop Dogg‘s in Katy Perry‘s ‘California Gurls.’
Even when Nick Minaj, another of Doja Cat’s musical heroes, enjoyed her breakthrough in 2010 the idea of a singer who also rapped was difficult for the public to accept. Pop was pop. Rap was rap. When they came together it was “pop rap.” Artists were, in a sense, simply one way or another.
Planet Her takes some of the best parts of both without sounding hackneyed or trying too hard to make a point of it. For Doja Cat, it is simply what felt natural. The rhythmic ‘Woman’ launches the album with an effortless sense of cool. The Weeknd, Ariana Grande and Young Thug‘s guest appearances will prove of great interest to fans, though its SZA collaboration ‘Kiss Me More’, the album’s lead single, which remains most memorable.
Doja Cat in 2021
A post-genre superstar? Well right you are
The world does not wait. The Weeknd‘s After Hours was the eminent pop album before the coronavirus pandemic struck. Ariana Grande’s neither here-nor-their Positions proved a mega-selling album could be released during the pandemic but showed pop records may not have been capable of having any real cultural impact during this troubled climate. In music, timing is everything.
Planet Her is not only a remarkable body of music. It arrives at a time when a new kind of energy is coming into the world. People relied on old songs and classics albums to get them through hard times. As the post-pandemic consciousness sets in, music fans are now looking for something different. Planet Her is capable of meeting their desires. It is sensual, yet assertive. Doja Cat knows who she is. Her vision is bright and confident in the future to come.
Doja Cat poses for photographer David LaChapelle’s ‘Planet Her’ cover
The Roaring 1920s of The Great Gatsby followed the horrific 1918 pandemic known as The Spanish Flu. What comes next may be alien but it will be spectacular all the same time. And, like any period in history, it will need a soundtrack.
Doja Cat 'Planet Her'9
Some goofy moments
No vinyl version
The pandemic continues