Show And Prove: Dej Loaf Is More Than Just “Try Me”
Show And Prove: Dej Loaf
Words Miranda J.
Show & Prove is our section in the magazine where we highlight which artists are hot in hip-hop now. Many who have appeared in S&P have gone on to launch successful music careers. Here is the story of Dej Loaf from our Winter 2014 issue featuring Kendrick Lamar on the cover, available on newsstands now.
What is the definition of "Instafamous?" Detroit MC Dej Loaf found out firsthand when her venomous hit "Try Me" went viral via Instagram after fans and local rappers began posting about the menacing track this July. In September, her fame spiked when Drake shouted her out on the app, followed by remixes with Wiz Khalifa and E-40. In just three months, "Try Me" became the catalyst for the 23-year-old's new record deal.
Born and raised in Detroit, the pint-sized rapper, real name Deja Trimble, was introduced to hip-hop by her father, who taught her the lyrics to E-40's "Sprinkle Me” at age three. A year later, her pops was killed, and Dej looked to rap as a means to cope. By age nine she was copying down her favorite verses, but was too shy to show off her rapping skills. “Nobody really knew what I could do until after high school,” Dej says of her then-hobby.
After graduating from Southeastern High School in 2009, Dej attended Saginaw Valley State University to study nursing, dropping out after two semesters to focus on music. In 2012, the aspiring rap star released her debut mixtape, Just Do It, under local Motor City label collective Creative Minds Coalition. Dej then holed up in the studio for the next two years until she re-emerged in July 2014 with "Try Me,” which quickly gained hometown praise. The song soon garnered airtime on Oakland radio, too, through a remix from Bay Area rapper Kafani. Then both Wiz and E-40 hopped on board crafting their own remixes of the record (since then artists including Ty Dolla $ign, The LOX, T.I. and many others have also made remixes).
By October, Dej’s original version of “Try Me” had garnered over six million plays on SoundCloud, entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 67 and helped the young femcee land a deal with Columbia Records. "I knew immediately that she would be a star," says Mike Brinkley, one-fourth of her management team and an executive at production company IBGM. "There is a mystique about her that reminds me of hip-hop's early years.”
Fresh off her $ell Sole mixtape released in October, the rap rookie is pushing "Try Me" with the official remix featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Remy Ma. Dej is also representing her city on Eminem's Shady XV compilation, out in November. And in 2015, with her untitled debut album on the way, Dej is letting her confidence shine bright. “I want to be legendary," she says. "It’s going to get deeper than music.”
Just wait on it.