This Sonic Breakdown will cover Dej Loaf’s EP #AndSeeThatstheThing. This is the first Dej Loaf album I have heard; the first song I heard from this young artist was “Try Me,” which gained a tremendous amount of buzz last year. It will be presented as usual with a breakdown of each track followed by a conclusion on the album as a whole.
This song’s production has an R&B feel that is propelled by the soft tone in Dej Loaf’s voice in the beginning of the album. As the song progresses, her voice adds more aggression yet still has a soft, young, feminine quality. The organ that is added to the instrumentation provides more gravity or weight to the track. The theme is that she will not let anything or anyone deter her from her desires. This is one of my favorite songs on this EP.
“Been on My Grind”
A slower, more introspective production is featured here due to the laid-back nature and countered by Dej’s contentiousness. The harmony of the chants in the background is used sparingly and adds a euphoric quality. Throughout this song, Dej expresses a continuation of the hard work she has been putting in to reach this point and how she won’t let herself backtrack. This is my favorite production on the album.
A more hood bounce-laden production is found here that adds some dynamics not seen in the other tracks. This is a self-reliance or an empowerment song that focuses on the lack of needing others to progress further. Dej Loaf also informs us that she isn’t a needy girl and wants a man that will respect her space and not exude needy qualities either. When the hook is reached, a more hood-club atmosphere is felt. This track features another Detroit native, Big Sean, and he provides a nice verse that showcases how well he navigates the production. This is a club or radio hit song with a cool bass line.
Future is featured on this song and appears early with him auto-tone singing/crooning. To me, this takes away from the song because Future’s singing isn’t fitting on this production. This is the love song of the album, expressing more of the sexual components of a relationship. Future has a mediocre second verse. This is my least favorite track, but it isn’t unlistenable.
This the most out-of-the-box, experimental—to a degree—instrumentation on the album. It has electronic dance and R & B mashed with hip-hop that I can see having more mass appeal than other tracks so far. Dej Loaf’s verses inform the listener of the anxiousness that she feels as a result of being around a certain person. This is a song that lends a more intimate, lightly introspective track to this album.
The production of this song reminds me of 90s R & B club songs like the ones R. Kelly made that my friends and I would bump and grind to at high school parties. It is a nice, smooth, moderately upbeat song that provides a nice ending to the album. Dej Loaf uses a slower cadence that rides over the beat nicely. She provides the content of separating herself from negativity and asserting that her intentions are true for the love of the music and not the fame or money.
This is a decent EP that gives a glimpse of what might be expected from a complete studio album. Some songs didn’t resonate with me through the instrumentation or the lyrical content. I don’t see myself listening to the album again. Dej Loaf has an aggressive inflection over a soft, feminine tone that provides an interesting dichotomy. There is a singing quality to her cadence that is like a mix of Drake and Jhene Aiko, but with a hard edge or sharpness. Lyrically, I want to see her expand her content to give more insight into who she is and what she has experienced. I am not condemning Dej Loaf, but I will need a bigger sample size or more material to more accurately determine who she is as an artist and get a handle on her musical voice.
Next week’s Breakdown will cover Dr. Dre’s new album Compton, which was inspired by the making and release of the movie Straight Outta Compton that is based on the rise and maturation of the rap group N.W.A.