Songs move through the hip hop internet underworld at alarming speed these days (think No Flex Zone, Bobby Shmurda, etc) but rarely do these songs make you feel something besides turnt up. Enter Dej Loaf. Her minimal, sing-song raps on “Try Me” have been running the streets of Detroit for months. But, due to viral sharing and influential tastemakers, “Try Me” burst out of the underground last month into high-profile DJ sets, radio mixshows and the offices of record execs in New York City. Remixes from Jadakiss, YG and the Queen Remy Ma herself worked like a right of passage for Dej, but it was a cosign she didn’t really need. Her music speaks for itself.
Dej made this perfectly clear in her first headlining performance at Santo’s Party House in Chinatown, NYC. As part of a CMJ showcase, this was the perfect opportunity to get new fans. But as the place filled up, it was clear the people came out for Dej. Leather bucket hats, all white outfits and too many dope sneakers to count made this one of the best-dressed shows I’ve been in a while. Plus, the ratio of girls to dudes was just about 50/50 – so rare for a hip hop show in NYC. Dej has swag for days, embracing that she is cute but not playing it up. Many of the turnt up ladies in the audience were cultivating the same boss ass bitch demeanor.
Dej Loaf took the stage at Santo’s Party House in a full mink coat, over a red bikini top, her trademark heart-shaped glasses blocking the stage lights. She came out to a song off her just release mixtape “I Don’t Know”. Despite the track dropping hours ago, the crowd with vibing with her, aided by the strength of her rap skills. She spit every line and syllable with clarity and emotion, with no backing vocal or hype man in sight. She was joined on stage by a group of friends and family, there to support her debut.
Dej ran through more songs off her mixtape, alternating between sitting on a stool and more theatrical rap antics. For one of her last songs “I Got It”, Dej was joined by a special guest – her mother. Her mom looked Radiant and proud as Dej rapped “I told my mom that I got her, when I make it we even. For all the year’s she took care of me and my brothers believin'”
The highlight of the night was guest appearances by Jadakiss and Remy Ma, who came out to the “Try Me” remix. The crowd went insane as they jumped on the beat. But the best part was when, after Dej spit her verse, the DJ cut the sound, allowing everyone to go acapella. Everyone knew the lyrics, and a massive sing along broke out of “try me, try me. fuck around and I’ma catch a homi”
The lyrics Dej spits may be hard but, the emotion behind the songs brings everyone in. Even the hardest people in attendance were feeling the vibes. Many rappers with sing-along hits seem to know their own shelf life, but Dej has a powerful stage presence that stems from a strong sense of self. The closest comparable rapper would be a mix of Da Brat’s lyrics and style, with Young Thug’s sense of melody. Dej Loaf is making her own niche, and that seems to suit her just fine.
You can download Dej Loaf’s mixtape “Sell Sole” here.