Photo: David LaChapelle
It's hard to believe it's only been three years since Doja Cat's debut record Amala, a project that would act as the harbinger for one of 2021's most prolific pop performers. Since 2018, Doja Cat has experienced more than her lion's share of fame, earning multiple career-defining moments of virality before she would ever surprise the world with her sophomore record Hot Pink. In the wake of Hot Pink's release, Doja Cat's ascent into one of the most prominent pop artists of our time has been nothing short of astronomical, with tracks like "Say So" that combine her unique approach to hip-hop, pop, and R&B stylistics amassing over 700 million streams on Spotify alone.
Accolades aside, it's easy to forget that Doja Cat is still a burgeoning new artist who is quickly growing into her own artistic lane - though as time passes it seems more and more likely that she's crafting one of her own. This week, the Los Angeles multi-hyphenate returns with Planet Her, Doja Cat's long awaited third studio record. Joined by a breadth of high-profile talent, Planet Her sees Doja Cat refining her internet-honed style by delivering fans 44 minutes of risk-taking and genre-pushing bangers. After all, across the record's 14 tracks, the only thing consistent about Doja Cat's performance is its ability to amaze.
Though Planet Her focuses on central themes of Doja Cat's unyielding devotion (or humorous indifference) to love and relationships, sonically the album avoids the pitfalls of oversimplification. The album opens with "Woman" and "Naked," two tender tracks that see Doja Cat in a world of her own, constantly delivering dynamic performances over afrobeat-laden mixes. Minutes later, she's rapping alongside Young Thug on the poppy "Payday," but then soon slows down for the downtempo and ethereal "Love to Dream." The variation of styles goes beyond the notion that the modern pop icon needs to wear many hats, as the versatility and talent shown by Doja Cat on Planet Her is borderline unrivaled by her peers.
Whether paired alongside prolific rappers like JID and Young Thug, or vocal powerhouses like Ariana Grande or SZA, Doja Cat does more than hold her own. She delivers fans a sound that is entirely in a lane of its own, all while amplifying those who are fortunate enough to share her spotlight. Even her chemistry with The Weeknd on "You Right" is palpable, and their combined swagger bleeds through your headphones while the two provide fans with a seductive album cut with trap percussion. Tracks like these that feature her rhythmically infectious and sonically daring performance serve to portray just how much Doja Cat has grown since 2018, all while retaining her signature charm and humor.
Planet Her also reads like a love-letter to fans both old and new, as the album sounds both like a comforting welcome home and an enthusiastic introduction. Tracks like "Ain't Shit" (which, surprise, is mysteriously missing from the record's clean version) have been highly-anticipated since Doja Cat teased it on Instagram live a lifetime ago. The "Super Rich Kids"-adjacent track was worth the wait, as it's tightly woven performance may make it an instant add to your weekly rotation. Though personally I can't relate to its message (sorry), there's no denying that Doja Cat's high-energy performance is infectious as hell.
From the anthemic and cinematic no-expense-spared cuts like "Need to Know, "to the more lowkey and laidback tracks like "Imagine," Planet Her is a masterclass in clever songwriting, artistic prowess, and the benefits of risk-taking. Every song blurs the lines between hip-hop, pop and R&B, and whether or not you're a new fan of Doja Cat, everyone will find something to enjoy on Planet Her. It seems like Doja Cat is finally proving that "the sky's the limit" doesn't apply to everybody.
Listen to Planet Her below: