December 1, 2023

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Doechii: she / her / black bitch EP Album Review

Doechii’s independent 2020 single “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” unfolds like a magical girl transformation. Speaking as a nervous new student introducing herself to a classroom, the Tampa-raised rapper begins with a meekness that sharpens into steely resolve as the track builds, girlhood crises of confidence giving way to adult conviction. “I am a black girl who beat the statistics,” she raps with a mix of relief, pride, and vexation. Doechii’s cadences and vocal tics on the song suggest Nicki Minaj, but the origin story at its center is wholly hers. When “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” went viral the next year on TikTok, soundtracking then-versus-now reveals including gender transitions, weight loss stories, and makeovers, the song’s themes of self-discovery and overcoming adolescent angst drove the trend.

Doechii’s perspective is significantly muted on she / her / black bitch, the 5-song EP that marks her major label debut. She’s been more visible since moving to Los Angeles and signing a joint deal with Top Dawg Entertainment and Capitol, scream-rapping on The Tonight Show, literally snatching a wig on stage at the BET Awards, and landing a spot in XXL’s 2022 Freshman Class (she hits an impeccable rap squat on the magazine’s cover). But her most recent music feels less rooted in her experiences and identity, growing awash in empty flexes and filler.

The title she / her / black bitch nods to Doechii’s social media bio, reclaiming an insult lobbed at her growing up as a dark-skinned Black woman, but the writing on the EP rarely inhabits a point of view or sets a scene. “What should I do today, do today?/Who should I be, be today?” she ponders on the diaristic “This Bitch Matters,” capturing the aimless mood. Doechii’s nimble rapping and svelte singing work on a technical level, but she’s more often showing her skills than applying them. Though Doechii manages about six flows in three verses on opener “Swamp Bitches,” Rico Nasty lands the slickest lines in half the time. On “Persuasive,” Doechii’s even-keeled melodies are steamrolled by SZA’s impassioned vocal runs, which actually embrace the song’s account of intoxicating seduction.

The EP has been billed as a stopgap as Doechii completes her debut album, but these songs don’t capture a moment of transition or experimentation. Doechii still traces lines drawn by muses like Minaj and Azealia Banks, and she’s not yet honed her core sound. Though the production is helmed by TDE producer Kal Banx (the secret weapon of Isaiah Rashad’s comeback album The House Is Burning), none of the beats feel as well matched to her writing as the tinny, homebrewed instrumental on “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake.” As she / her / black bitch swings from bar fests to R&B to soul, Doechii seems so intent on proving her versatility that she obscures her personality.

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