DeJ Loaf has come full circle, only to find herself for the first time. The Detroit rapper caught attention with her 2014 mixtape ‘Sell Sole’, and since then she’s earned respect from fellow artists, alongside a string of key features. There’s been a feeling along the way, though, of unfulfilled potential, with DeJ remaining somewhat underrated in the broader sphere.
‘Sell Sole II’ isn’t quite the breakout moment fans hoped for, but it is most definitely her strongest, most in-depth project to date. The features amplify her profile – everyone from Lil Uzi Vert to 6LACK via the Griselda crew pay their respects – while DeJ Loaf remains firmly in control, with her voice resonating loudest, and with most potency.
Following a string of mixtapes and EPs, this is her first fully fledged album experience, and every detail feels carefully curated. Early highlights ‘Queen’ and ‘Cross That Line’ feel punchy, completed assured, while the Big Sean spot on ‘IDK’ transports DeJ to a different plain.
Moving with speed and confidence, DeJ lays out a mid-album arc with neat ‘Sell Sole II’ highlight ‘Choose’, before trading bars with Gunna on the mighty ‘No Ceiling’. Two naturally gifts MCs in full flow, it’s a vivid demonstration of the Michigan artist’s technical flair.
Rick Ross adds some swagger to ‘Open Hand’, while DeJ Loaf continues her Griselda association - she appeared on ‘From King To God’ - by working alongside Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, and Boldy James on ‘Get Money’.
Closing the album alongside 6LACK on graceful cut ‘Up’, DeJ steers her artistry into the album format with no small degree of grace, resulting in something well-rounded, mature, and tenacious. It’s not quite her defining moment, but through its energy and intelligence alone it’s certainly her finest 45 minutes to date.
Words: Robin Murray
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