Dej Loaf Shows She’s A Star In The Making With ‘Sell Sole’ Mixtape
Let’s call a spade a spade—females rappers sometimes have a harder hill to climb than men. Outside of video vixens or side-chicks looking to propel their sexcapades into a lucrative reality show contract, its a rare occasion to see the ladies stand tall next to their male competition. But Dej Loaf is different. While she lacks the gimmicks or artificial enhancements of some of her female contemporaries, her organic approach is bringing sexy back in ways that will not likely posterize the walls of Lil Kim- and Nicki Minaj-lusting adolescents. By far, the most intriguing aspect of the 23-year-old is her hard rock personality, rooted in the sort cocksure self-assurance that only a Detroit native could exude. Loaf is entirely comfortable penetrating a crowded landscape with the Nickis, Iggys, and Azealias of the world currently donning gold patons, and despite whatever hard-knock lessons that helped mold her demeanor, the direct cause of this exemplary confidence is a deeply intriguing creative output to rest her laurels on. Sell Sole is an inarguable indicator that Loaf is bypassing mere Internet hype and is on the road to superstar status.
On sight, Loaf flaunts her cocky trajectory with “Bird Call,” the first track of the tape: “I know it’s my time now / I don’t think they get it yet / Open up your lid and put a symbol on your fitted cap.” As evident from first listen, Loaf’s M.O. circulates around subdued melodies in which she not only crystallizes her tantalizing voice but her poignant bars as well. She flexes her singing chops on “I Don’t Know,” expertly navigating a DDS-produced instrumental with a spaced-drum cadence and soft piano strokes reminiscent of the late J. Dilla in his Slum Village days. Whereas other artists rely heavily on bombastic, maximum volume instrumentals to disguise a shoddy rhymebook, it’s clear that Loaf wants the primary focus on her talents. Regardless of whether she is singing or rhyming with boast-happy sentiments, her appeal is achieved through a expert coupling of pleasant-sounding vocals and appealing couplets that invite listeners on a sonic journey to the innermost thoughts of her soul.
But Loaf’s objective is not to be slotted into the underground canals of Jansport backpack obscurity, so on “Blood” she invites starry guests in the form of Birdman and Young Thug into her orbit. Rich Gang affiliates have the presence and wherewithal to assert their creative dominance on any track they are featured on, but in this case, they are well-mannered guests in the proper sense of the word. Instead of the typical I-have-a-lot-more-money-than-you talk we are accustomed to from Rich Gang releases, Loaf relates a deeply magnet portrait of her personal life over a mellowed instrumental: “Ain’t no hoe in my blood / Took my dad away when I was four / Why would I give a fuck about y'all.” Even Young Thug abandons his entertaining jokester approach for a privy insight into his own personal obstacles for an engaging change of pace.
Although she mostly remains steadfast to soft rhythms and bars shrouded in personal strife, Loaf is far from a doom-and-gloom one trick pony. On “U, Me, & Hennessey” she extends her soft, sultry singing voice to steamy pillow talk. With “We Be On It,” she puts a stylish spin on the run of the mill swag rap. Boasts aplenty, Loaf alters between subdued a Jhené Aiko-esque vibe and a glossy, animated delivery that truly encapsulates her mic presence. The work of many artists revolve around a fundamental thematic overture that dominates the majority of their work, and Loaf is no different. However, she manages the tricky balancing act of not rehashing previously touched-on subject matter to no avail. On “Never,” she kicks the fourth wall down, simultaneously encouraging her listeners to adopt a self-assured mentality while clearly stating her own highly ambitious motives. She takes a similar approach on the appropriately titled “Grinding.”
It’s much too early to compare Loaf to legendary female MCs at this point, but she truly has no real comparison in terms of her ability to flawlessly mesh sing-song deliveries with unadulterated rhyme schemes that bleed graspable, relevant transparency. From this point forward, it’s probably safe to say we will never witness an “Anaconda”-like video from Loaf, but it is impossible to take our eyes off of a refreshing ex-factor in an age where originality is exponentially becoming a lost art. It remains to be seen whether she will continue to hone her burgeoning talents and ignore the industry politics that have claimed the metaphorical lives of talented one in the past. But whether the industry is ready or not, Def Loaf will be around for the long haul.—Kellan Miller