Detroit's newest talent (and Drake co-sign) Dej Loaf talks her upbringing, , and her delightfully murderous viral record.

Interview: 'Try Me' Rapper/Singer Dej Loaf Might Not Be Who You Think She Is

Meet the creator of the trigger-happy hit "Try Me," who captured our heart (and Drake's) by threatening to put a bullet through it

When rapper (singer?) Dej Loaf walks in, you’re not sure what to expect. Yet the chorus of the 23-year-old newbie’s smoldering breakout hit “Try Me”—which boasts of catching bodies and killing entire families—doesn't quite prepare you for the petite, barely five-foot chick with a hushed voice who walks through the door. But that’s what gives her a prized distinction. The Detroit native’s delivery is an oxymoronic blend. Her voice is gentle and warm, while the lyrics to her overnight hit are dangerous and resistant. “Try Me” tip-toes between being threatening and murderous, but its catchy melody captures the ear of delinquents and delightfuls alike. Even Wiz Khalifa and E-40 have caught on, lacing the eerie instrumental with some bars for remixes to show their appreciation (another, with Ty $, is on the way), while Drake has shown some love via IG. Dej stopped by the VIBE office yesterday (Sept. 24) to chop it about growing up in the D, talk her musical beginnings and the real reason you shouldn't “try” her. —Tanay Hudson VIBE: Tell us about your upbringing in Detroit. Dej Loaf: It was crazy. I was always a homebody as a kid. I stayed in the house writing music. I was the good kid in the projects. Single mom. Me and my two brothers. I stayed out of trouble. I could have gotten into all that stuff that was going on, but I stayed in the house. So you were a good kid in a mad city. Exactly. When did you first start writing music? When I was 9 or 10. I started out writing [down] lyrics from other people’s songs. I used to put the CD in and write their lyrics down, then I started writing my own. Do you remember what your first song sounded like? Terrible. [laughs] What were you talking about? Who knows. I used to cuss a lot in my raps when I was little. I used to say anything, listen to everything. It was terrible [laughs]. When did you get serious about music? After high school. I always wanted to do it, I just wasn't in the studio. I was serious after high school. I graduated in 2009. I was in a group for a year and some change. Once I separated from the group I got with CMC. We were like a bunch of artists. I put out my first mixtape in February 2012 called Just Do It. From there it was serious. I had left college and did that. I was always writing. I just put it all together and made the mixtape. Tell me about the group you were in in high school. It was called G4. It was me, Matt G, my best friend Mike, Logic, Wayne. My best friend brought me into the group. They had already started the group—I was the only girl. Why did you guys broke up? We weren't organized. We were just all over the place. It wasn't like we were performing anywhere. We were just doing music. It was actually good music. If we would have had a little help we probably could have popped off. Who knows. Everybody graduated and went their separate ways. How would you define your sound? I like melodies. I’m not afraid to try different flows and put it together. Sing, rap. Everybody says they like my tone of voice.

Your voice is soft and you’re singing some hardcore lyrics on “Try Me.” It’s funny that you say you were the good kid because on the song you sound like you weren’t. When did you begin to... When did I turn gangsta? Yeah. It’s not even about being gangsta. I’m around that all the time, so I can speak on it. Because you were the good kid, do you think people used to try you thinking you wouldn’t do anything? I was always cool. I wasn’t like a lame or anything. I stayed to myself, stayed out of trouble. I was smart. Nobody tried me. I was around it with my brothers, cousins. I was in the house with them. Nobody could try me because I had that circle around me. You said you went to college. What college did you go to? Saginaw Valley State University. It’s an hour and a half away from Detroit. What was your major? Nursing. Did you graduate? No, I did the Kanye. I left because I was bored. I wasn’t on it like how I was with music. If you’re gonna go to school you should be dedicated to it and that’s with anything you do. I was coming home like every weekend and that’s not what college is about. I came home and I wasn’t even supposed to come home for good. It kind of just happened. That’s why people tell you before you go to school don’t come home, just stay at school. How long were in you in school before you left? Like, three semesters. As an upcoming hip hop female artist, how will you be different from Remy Ma, Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea? The ones that you named are the ones that are actually good. I’m just going to be me. This is how I rap. I make music for everybody. I got songs. I’m not the “Try Me” girl. Other artists have shown you love by remixing your song. Which are your favorite remixes of “Try Me”? E-40. Just to even have him reach out was big. I grew up listening to his stuff. Who were some of your favorite rappers coming up? I didn’t really have many. I listen to all types of music. Do you have a favorite genre? Jazz. It’s real soothing, calm. On your song you mentioned not wanting to sign to a label. Would you rather stay independent? You never know. If I’m in the right situation then sure. I just want to be with people who care and are in it for the long run, not because “Try Me” is hot. Have you met with any labels? Of course. That’s why I’m out here. [Eds note: She couldn’t disclose which labels she met with.] Since gaining fame, what have you been experiencing lately that is new to you? Traveling, no sleep, planes. I’m used to writing my rhymes in my room. I was definitely going to church every Sunday for months but I’ve been missing church because I haven’t been home. I know you’re a big Drake fan. What was your initial reaction to seeing Drake comment on your Instagram page? It was crazy. People were tweeting me like, “Oh, Drake followed you!” But it was great. Drake is one of the biggest artists in the world. You know you’re getting somewhere when you got people like that are interested in you. He didn’t have to say anything. Is he going to be on a “Try Me” remix? I was hoping he was but I don’t know. We’re gonna do something even if it isn’t “Try Me.” He doesn’t even have to get on there. We can work on something new. Have you been compared to anyone? No not yet. Not even for the sound of your voice? When I first heard your voice it reminded me of Jeremih. Has anyone ever told you that you sounded like him? No. Someone just told me that he was feeling “Try Me.” But no one has ever told me that. You might be the one to make everybody start saying it [laughs]. Could you relate to it? I can. I was also the good kid and people used to think they could try me because I was quiet. People try people everyday, but I see what you’re saying. I wasn’t really coming from that... well, maybe I was. I was walking in the mall one day and these people were looking at me. I was like “what the hell?!” I just went back and wrote the song. How did you chose your name? Did it come from wearing loafers? The idea of wearing loafers. I used to wear a lot of Jordans; everybody wore Jordans. So I was just like, I’m going to switch it up and wear Gucci loafers. One day I was thinking, “Man I’ma wear these and they gon’ start calling me Deja Loaf.” The idea stuck with me since 10th grade. I never started wearing them but I was like the name is cool, even if I don’t wear loafers. Did you have any other rap names? Stuff like Young Dej. Terrible [laughs]. How did you get Deelishis (from Flavor of Love 2) in the “Try Me” video? She’s from the D. She liked the song and she had uploaded a video to it. We reached out to her, went to her house and she did her cameo. She’s cool. Do you have any other talents? I could play ball. I could do a little something. Do you have a favorite team? I don’t have one. I don’t really watch sports anymore. What’s next for you? We’re trying to drop something next month so people know there’s more than just “Try Me.” I’m not sure of the name. A mixtape. Then we might drop an EP.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Getty Images

Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

Continue Reading
Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella

Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas State University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

Continue Reading
Eminem performs on stage during the MTV EMAs 2017 held at The SSE Arena, Wembley on November 12, 2017 in London, England.
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for MTV

Why Would Sada Baby Not Rank Eminem In His Top Five From Detroit?

Eminem is the most prolific and successful rapper of all time. His stats can’t be faded. When it’s all said and done, we’ll be retiring his number in every stadium he’s ever sold out.

With over 100 million records sold worldwide, an Oscar for Best Original Song, 10 No. 1 albums, more than 1 billion streams on Spotify, two top 100, all-time best selling albums, Marshall Bruce Mathers III is the highest selling rapper of all time. His top five status should be firmly cemented.

The respect for Em also extends to the greatest names in hip-hop. In 2012, VIBE compiled a list of the top 40 compliments Eminem has been given from his peers with names stretching from Scarface to Redman to Jay-Z. In a 2008 interview with BBC, Nas says of Em, “He contributes so much lyrically and musically. He’s amazing.” In a 2010 conversation with Hot 97, Kanye West is on record as saying, “Nobody’s gonna be bigger than Eminem.”

So why does it seem like he isn’t getting the respect he deserves in his own city?

In a recent interview with Say Cheese TV, Detroit rapper Sada Baby – when asked if Eminem was a top five rapper – said, “Out of Detroit? Hell naw. You talking about my Detroit?” While the internet took that quote and decided their varying levels of agreement or anger, there was one thing Sada said that stood out.

“My Detroit.”

While that phrase may not mean anything to outsiders, that distinction means the world to Detroiters.

Detroit is a tale of two cities when it comes to rap. Many know iconic producer J Dilla and wordsmiths like eLZhi and Royce Da 5’9”, but the D has a long, legendary history of street rappers who have helped pave the way. That’s a legacy that younger artists such as Icewear Vezzo, Payroll Giovanni of Doughboyz Cashout, Tee Grizzley, and Sada Baby are pushing forward to this day. As a native Metro Detroiter, artist manager, and digital label manager for Soulspazm Records, Eric “Soko” Reynaert sees both sides as equally important. “The different circles carry a lot of importance in encompassing the variety we have to offer. It's all important equally because it's what makes Detroit hip-hop what it is. Detroit's been running the overseas market touring wise for years, Detroit street rap is making noise in the major label market, Danny Brown's a fucking star: it's all good for Detroit hip-hop as a whole.”

The blunt, straightforward approach of Detroit’s street rappers just doesn’t mesh well with Eminem’s style of storytelling and wordplay. Slim Shady’s knack for entendres, stuffing multisyllabic rhyme schemes inside of each bar and floating between different pockets is a dense, complex style that, in Sada Baby’s own admission, most people just don’t get. “Eminem will get to saying some shit [that’s] going over everybody’s head,” Sada shrugged. “I might be able to decipher some of that shit but that nigga’s shit going over everybody head”.

That’s Sada’s Detroit. Among his musical influences are the late, great Detroit street rappers Blade Icewood and Wipeout - both murdered over the beef between their respective crews, Street Lord'z and the Eastside Chedda Boyz. If you truly want to know what a Detroit native lives by, take a listen to the Eastside Chedda Boyz’s “Oh Boy” and Blade Icewood’s “Boy Would You.” The true anthems of the city, both songs deified by their infectious hooks, blunt and deliberate lyrics, and a simplistic yet highly effective message draped in the energy that Detroiters carry with them. They’re not trying to win you over with metaphors and similes, but rather connect to their audience with honesty and directness in their rhyming. Similar styles can be heard in other 313 legends like Big Herk, K Deezy, and even Trick Trick and his Goon Sqwad click that has been active on the city’s music scene since the mid-‘90s. These are the artists that dominated the streets and Detroit radio. Not J Dilla. Not Slum Village. Not Black Milk. Detroit’s lyrical rappers tout immense worldwide respect but have always been relegated to the background in Detroit’s hierarchy, only sniffing radio play by doing jingles for local disc jockeys.

“There’s a street side and a hip-hop side to the music scene in Detroit,” says battle rap pioneer and Detroit MC Marvwon, while explaining the differences amongst the city’s musical landscape. “The funny thing is [that] there’s no difference in level of talent. The only difference is the backdrops.”

Those backdrops are also socioeconomic in nature as Detroit is a city whose residents have been denied basic human necessities. And for the Motor City? There’s no better representation of the city than the music at the most fundamental, street level. As Marv continued to explain, “The division comes from perception. The street cats believe that there hasn’t been an accurate representation of Detroit in the music world.”

Those feelings are echoed throughout the scene. Detroit MC Seven The General traverses through both worlds in a manner that the city hasn’t seen since the late Big Proof (known as Eminem’s close friend, as a member of his group D12). As Seven explains, “When I was incarcerated, we felt that the street aspect of Detroit wasn’t being heard with Eminem. But when I came home in ‘03 and heard Rock Bottom, I realized it was there but it just wasn’t receiving the same attention nationally. It had been held back and secluded to the streets for so long that people felt Eminem didn’t like it or care. It caused a resentment and caused rappers to feel like he doesn’t listen to us so why should we listen to him. It made us ask, ‘Where on the list of Eminem‘s top five Detroit artists would any of us fit?’”

When taking in these factors, it’s easy to see why Eminem doesn’t translate well for Sada Baby. However, Eminem’s impact has transcended not only Detroit but the world. Artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Hopsin, Tyler The Creator, and Juice WRLD are amongst today’s generation of rappers that all list him as a major influence. For better or worse, Em is also a catalyst for today’s druggie rap scene. Street rappers have gone from rapping about selling drugs to today’s scene glorifying the use of Xanax and Percocet - something that Marshall pioneered on his early albums with songs like “Drug Ballad” and “Purple Pills.” And with the blockbuster film 8 Mile and its hit song “Lose Yourself,” Eminem helped take battle rap culture mainstream to unfamiliar audiences.

Thanks to Eminem, Detroit’s street rap and lyrical scenes have crossed over. Somewhere at the intersection of manager/A&R Hex Murda and Big Sean, the worlds collided. As Marv states, “Big Sean, Danny Brown, and anyone else from the city mostly talk about the same things: money, bitches, and bossing up.” For every J Dilla, we now have a Black Milk who can equally rap and produce between both worlds. Where there’s a Dex Osama, there’s a Guilty Simpson and Seven The General whose blunt and brash flows hit you in the chest as hard as their lyrical ability and wordplay.

And don’t get it twisted; Em definitely sees the work that Detroit’s street rappers are putting in. “I have a personal relationship with all of the rappers around him,” Seven says. “I feel he rocks with me and has love for me. If he could see a way for us to make bread together, I feel like he’d pull me in; but D12 is actively in the streets assisting artists. I’ve personally seen what Em does for Detroit like his partnerships with (Metro Detroit sneaker boutique) Burn Rubber and (locally-founded clothing company) Detroit vs Everybody.”

He may not be your flavor but there’s no denying the skill and impact that Em has had on the city of Detroit and the genre as a whole. If Eminem isn’t top five in Detroit, you’re doing it wrong.

Continue Reading

Top Stories