Doja Cat's career has been a rollercoaster for the past few months, from several major controversies against her fans to announcing tour with Ice Spice. Amidst this, the singer has dropped singles including Attention and Paint The Town Red, with a darker demonic aesthetic as the backdrop. Now, her new single, Demons, expanding on her new album, Scarlet, which Cat announced to be coming out September 22nd through Instagram. In the months leading up to the album, Cat has utilized her persona and style to create anticipation for the project.
Scarlet is a new alter ego for Cat, switching over from the bubble-gum pop of her last album, Planet Her, to an edgier hip-hop sound on her new album. Cat is playing into the critics' theories of her being a pawn for secret groups like the infamous, illuminati, or selling her soul for her success.
The public perception of Cat originally began to shift with her infamous red Schiaparelli look at the start of the year, with CNN Style describing the look as "a look of 'Inferno'" and "devilish." Others, like Vogue France, called it "futuristic" and "epic."
It was all downhill from there, starting with Cat denouncing her past music in a since-deleted tweet, writing, "Planet her and hot pink were cash-grabs and yall fell for it," referencing her past two albums from 2021 and 2019, respectively, “Now i can go disappear somewhere and touch grass with my loved ones on an island while yall weep for mediocre pop.” Yet, Cat did everything but disappear for the months to come.
In April, she started to reveal new tattoos, including a bat skeleton, spiders and deformed creatures from the work of Italian philosopher, Fortunio Liceti's, work. When faced with backlash for the "demonic" new ink, Cat responded by posting the symbolism behind the body art with the caption, "your fear is not my problem."
Source: People Magazine
In June, Cat released the first single off Scarlet, titled Attention, in which she claps back with lyrics addressing the critique of her shaved head, comparisons to female rappers, etc. Cat raps, "I never gave a F, stir the pot, bitch." In the music video, she's seen strolling down a city street, past the paparazzi, screaming and the glitz and glam. Towards the end of the video, she is shown in just underwear, drenched in blood, which has become the official face of the "Scarlet" persona.
Following the release of the single, Doja Cat went on a rant against fans, Kittenz, on since-deleted Threads account, calling them "weird" for idolizing her and urging them to "get a job." When fans responded with disappointment, she wrote, "I don't even know y'all." Following this, many Kittenz online began to shut down their accounts and Cat lost hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram.
This was followed with the release of "Paint The Town Red," in which Cat declares, "Bitch, I said what I said," doubling down on the previously-made statements against fans. Soon after, Cat wrote on Instagram that she feels "free" after losing thousands of followers for past controversy.
This revealed a pattern in Cat's music releases, which was that each single was accompanied with an outrageous and angering statement in response to the public opinion of her. Compared to the Doja Cat from past eras, who was grateful for her fans, many believe that the controversies are all to create conversation around the new album, darker and rougher in nature.
The theme is also apparent in Cat's style for the album cycle, especially through magazine shoots with V Magazine and Harper's Bazaar. In V Magazine's Global Music Issue with Cat as the cover star, Cat rocked her blonde buzz cut with fishnets, switching out several black and white shirts and smoking a cigarette in a few shots. Cat brought her own wardrobe to the photoshoot, according to V, possibly because Cat wanted to expand on the vision for the album cycle.
Similarly, in her recent Harper's Bazaar shoot, Cat wears all black once again, with the cover shot showing Cat in a black dress by Dolce & Gabbana, a fur jacket to match. Cat switches this out for a black gown by Versace in a few other shots from the shoot. Both shoots consist of an all-black wardrobe, sticking by the dark "Scarlet" persona in something other than head-to-toe red, while still achieving the goal of a demonic, yet fashionable, aesthetic.
Now, Cat's new single, Demons, continues to anger nay-sayers with a horror film-like music video, with Cat's possessed character haunting Christina Ricci. In the song itself, Cat raps, "How my demons look? / Now that my pockets full." The rapper also sarcastically refers to herself as a cash cow, with the general premise of the song being Cat's disinterest in the controversies surrounding the era, flaunting her success in the faces of critics.
Doja Cat's devotion to her art is apparent through her immersion into the "Scarlet" character she has created for her new album. A few nay-sayers might be turned off by the visuals and scandals, but Cat is sticking to her craft and doing so through changes in her personal style, professional photoshoots as well as through some ink that might stay with her past the album cycle.