Congratulations are in order for Doja Cat, who has risen to an impressive #5 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 Charts with her standalone rap song "Paint The Town Red." This song marks the debut single from her upcoming rap album, "Scarlet," and is reportedly contending for the coveted #1 spot on next week's charts. Should Doja Cat secure the top spot, it will be the first rap song to achieve this feat since Nicki Minaj's "Super Freaky Girl."
So, now that we've got the pleasantries out of the way, let's get real. This accomplishment is more than a resume highlight for Doja Cat; it will be weaponized against other female rappers and used as a reason to catapult Doja Cat to the top of female rap.
However, behind all the "Queen/Princess of Rap" headlines waiting to be published, what people won't talk about is that Doja Cat's move to rap music wasn't driven by a love for listening to Little Brother, memories of Liemart Park, or a desire to work with 9th Wonder. Instead, it seemed to be her strategy for avoiding competing with Pop Queens like Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and Olivia Rodrigo.
Don't be fooled by Doja Cat's nonchalant attitude. She's a savvy L.A. girl who is highly competitive and wants all the awards and praise, even if she pretends not to care. Hip Hop's over-emphasis on charting, the media's parasocial relationship with artists, and the lack of rap superstars make it an easy landscape for her to succeed, especially with a pop machine behind her.
DOJA CAT: SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL
In 2020, Rolling Stone published a must-read article titled "Separate and Unequal: How 'Pop' Music Holds Black Artists Back." The article discussed how white pop artists are often given preferential treatment by record labels, such as being pushed to larger audiences at radio and receiving larger marketing budgets than their black counterparts in Hip Hop and R&B.
"Megan Thee Stallion invented the “Hot Girl Summer” meme and released an accompanying single, which was an “urban” radio hit. The white singer blackbear grabbed the concept for his own “Hot Girl Bummer,” which was played heavily on pop radio. Since that format reaches many more listeners — 93 million impressions last week on the “pop” Number One, compared to 36 million for the “urban” Number One — “Hot Girl Bummer” has nearly 160 million more streams in the U.S. than “Hot Girl Summer.”
Doja Cat is a Pop Star, and her transition into a full-time rapper didn't require her to shift over to the urban side of RCA and sit next to Latto. No, she's positioned more like Macklemore, Post Malone, and Jack Harlow. Her music begins on Top 40 radio and Pop playlists, alongside the push in urban areas to see its performance. The competition she faces doesn't follow the same trajectory. They have to navigate the chitlin circuit of urban radio and then, depending on the song, cross over to Pop radio, where Doja Cat has already accumulated a significant number of listeners before they even arrive.
So, before people start gloating and comparing Doja Cat to Megan Thee Stallion, Latto, GloRilla, or Ice Spice, understand that they are not playing on the same field despite the label on Doja's music being changed from Pop to Rap.
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