Just a few minutes into Dej Loaf’s interview with MASS APPEAL on the latest episode of “Open Space,” she experiences a genuine moment of fluster. As she quickly recalls some of the high marks of her star-turning 2014-2015 run, including appearing on the song “Detroit vs. Everybody,” her face lights up. As if she’d just mulled over that period for the first time since 2015, the considerable star power she possessed as a rookie dawns on her. “I really did a song with fuckin’ Eminem, like wow,” she says. “It’s crazy.”
Luckily, in being enthralled by the aura of that moment, Dej Loaf didn’t lose herself in it. Rather than rush out her major label debut with Columbia, the D-Town rep remained obsessed with inventing new creative pockets. She’d flip her mellifluous cadence—once known primarily for its edge—to craft sweet R&B anthems (“Me, U and Hennessy”). Then she turns around and stamp 2017 with the dance-pop cut “No Fear,” decorated with acoustics, performed seamlessly enough to make you forget for a moment that her calling card was once the lyric, “Let a nigga try me/ I’ma get his whole mu’fuckin’ family.”
“I could’ve been dropped an album, you know what I mean? That wasn’t the issue,” starts Dej, as she discusses the forthcoming Liberated, her first full-length studio album since signing to Columbia in 2014. “It was just really wanting to grow. I don’t want to put out the same sound. Let me try some new stuff. When I first started recording for the album I was in Atlanta. And I had a lot going on. I was transitioning. I had got rid of a few people off my team. And I just shut everything down, you know? Shows. I wanted to get that peace of mind back.”
Artist development? Diversified sound? Who is this unicorn?
Watch “Open Space” above.