We had the opportunity to speak with 23-yr old rapper DeJ Loaf who is undeniably the biggest artist out of Detroit right now since Big Sean. Her small voice and big lyrics on her hit “Try Me” have offered up one of the hip-hop industry’s most contrasting sounds this year (and we can’t stop listening). The IBGM representative discusses everything from her city to the misunderstood “female rap game”. Read our exclusive interview below.
Evangeline: ‘Try Me’ is one of the hardest songs out right now and it’s also your biggest introduction as an artist. What’s the story behind the making of the track?
Dej: I was shopping and I was in the mall and I heard some type of song…you know, mall music. I just stopped and recorded a quick voice memo “let a nigga try me, try me, I’ma get his whole mothafuckin’ family”. I just kept on saying that phrase back to back and recorded it on my voice memo. My best friend was looking at me like I’m crazy. Later on DDS turned over a beat and it matched the tone of the voice memo; after that I recorded it. I knew there was something special about it but I didn’t know it was going to be this big.
Evangeline: What made you leave college in order to pursue your music career?
Dej: The passion. I’m big on following my dreams. When I went to college I thought that was something I wanted to do – and you know it still is. I kindof wish I could’ve stayed but everything happens for a reason. I wasn’t dedicated or interested that much. I was in class asleep half the time. I was having more fun than actually doing the work and I kept coming home on the weekends because I was so close to home.
I’m just big on passion and following dreams – so it was like do I stay here and waste time? Or do I go home and work on my mixtape. Once I went home and started working on it, everything started to come together.
Evangeline: What was the hardest part of the process leading up to people finally noticing your music on a massive scale?
Dej: The hardest part was not knowing when it was going to pop for me. I always knew I was good but it’s all about having the right people around you and the right support system.
Some of the greatest rappers and singers never made it. For a moment it was like ‘Why am I sacrificing so much to do it’ and leaving school. I had a few jobs but they were terrible and I was depressed about not being able to do what I wanted to do because I didn’t have the right resources. Just before this all happened, I was thinking “What am I gonna do next”, but everything happens in its own time.
Evangeline: How has Detroit been an influence on your lyrics?
Dej: I just tell it like it is. Detroit is my city. I grew up in the projects and I can talk about these things – no I’m not out here killing people but I’m around it so I can speak on it. I don’t lie in my raps, it’s all about how I feel. It’s my city and I’m writing about everything around me and within myself.
Evangeline: I feel like people really underestimate Detroit and give in to the stereotypes.
Dej: I hate the fact that people look at us like Detroit aint really nothing. Man we great, we got all the talent. We just gotta do the groundwork and put more good stuff in the city. But we got it, we got all the flavors. I think now is the perfect time though.
Evangeline: How do you feel about the categorization of the “Female Rapper” and the current state of the female rap game? I know you probably get this question a lot.
Dej: I think a lot of female rappers box themselves in. I’m big on either you make good music or you don’t and that’s just the bottom line. It’s not even about being a female or male rapper. If you make good music, the people are going to give you what you put out. They gon’ give you that back.
A lot of female rappers box themselves in by coming out like ‘yo I’m a female rapper and I just want my respect’. No, I’m not coming out like that because I got music for everybody. ‘I’m representing my ladies’ is how you box yourselves in. You know I’m making music for my niggas over here, the kids in college over there, the other kids over there. That’s what it’s about for me when you come out the gate. Don’t even ask for nothin’, just come out and get it.
Evangeline: Who or what are some non-musical things that inspire your music?
Dej: My Family and my city. I write all my music at home. Just seeing my mom everyday and my brothers and friends everyday is motivation. I have a vision that I want to get out. I see a lot of stuff happening.
Evangeline: What has been the weirdest part about your transition to the spotlight?
Dej: The craziest part is the travelling, in and out of different cities everyday. But I already saw it – I just didn’t know when it was going to happen. A lot of the stuff that I thought about, now I’m like okay this is really real.
Evangeline: Whose heavy on your personal playlist right now?
Dej: ILoveMakonnen, Drake, PartyNextDoor, the whole OVO sound over there. I listen to a lot of that stuff man.
Evangeline: When can we expect your project to drop?
Dej: I’ve been recording music and I have so much more music and I’m ready to let it go. We’re putting something together right now.
Evangeline: What advice would you offer to someone in your position before all of this happened?
Dej: I would tell them stay down until you come up. You go through these changes and you get discouraged like ‘I don’t know if this is for me’ and you really feel those feelings but look what happens.
I’m a believer. I believe in God – if you doin’ good, good gon’ come to you, no matter what’s going on in life period. I feel like I was getting myself right and I feel like everything I’m getting right now I was owed, and I say that in a humble way. Be a believer man, stay down until you come up.
Soundcloud: Click Here.