23-year-old Detroit native DeJ Loaf is experiencing a whirlwind right now, thanks to her song that so sweetly sings about catching bodies and leaving a b*tch n*gga’s head in pasta, “Try Me.” Released on her SoundCloud account in late July just for the hell of it, the pint-sized rapper/singer never dreamed that it would have her in New York City a mere 2 months later, discussing her reaction to Drake quoting it on Instagram or the likes of Wiz Khalifa and her favorite, E-40, hopping on for the remixes. But it has, and now DeJ is gearing up for the ride of her life. Backstage at Hot 97‘s ‘Who’s Next’ showcase for Mila J, Adrian Marcel and BJ The Chicago Kid on Thursday night, I caught up with lil’ DeJ to discuss her upbringing, her style, why the video for “Try Me” was so monumental, what we can expect next…and why you shouldn’t classify her as a singer. Get the full 411 on one of my favorite new artists below!
How did you get started in music?
I been doing this since I was a kid. I’m 23 now. I started writing when I was about 9, 10-years-old and I built from there. I just love writing. I got serious after high school, that was 2009. I wasn’t really serious, but 2012 is when I dropped my first mixtape. I went to college from 2009 through 2011. I didn’t graduate unfortunately. I went to Saginaw Valley, it’s like an hour and a half away from Detroit. I was living on campus and had the whole little experience, but I came back home and started doing my music. I wasn’t feeling it.
What did you major in?
I majored in nursing.
What made it not for you?
I think I just always loved the music. If you look at it, anything you’re doing, you’ve got to be dedicated to. I was just wasting my time up there. I was just kind of waking up and not wanting to go to class. I was one of them kids, but I wish I would have finished now that I think about it.
What was your upbringing like?
Single parent home, my mom and my grandma raised me and my 2 brothers. My dad got killed when I was 4. We were in the hood, man. We were in the projects. I definitely used music as an outlet. That’s all I do, I write about my life.
Do you enjoy singing more or rapping more, or it’s just whatever comes out?
It’s mutual. I like doing both. I’m not a singer, I don’t call myself a singer because if you ask me to hit a note, I’m probably gon’ be like ahhh.
You’ve got some harmonies, though!
[Laughs] Yeah I got the harmonies, the melodies, you know what I’m saying? So that’s what I do. I just sing and I rap.
Obviously “Try Me” is what has you everywhere now. How did it come about?
Well actually, I had recorded it on my phone in Voice Memos. I was in the mall and people were staring at me and I was like, “What are y’all looking at it?” And this was around March or April of this year. I just came up with the little melody to it, like, “Let a n*gga try me, try me…” So then I sat on it and I wasn’t really thinking about it. Then [the song’s producer] DDS sent a beat. The beat was called “Good Life,” and I just came up with that. You know, the beat matched the song. So I had all that, and I was in my room going crazy. That was around like, April. I released it at the end of July.
Your subject matter is kind of heavy. How involved are you in what you’re singing about?
I’m not catching bodies, but I’m around it. I can speak on it. I like to dip into different worlds. I’m around it, like I said, it’s a finger away. I got family members, I got people in jail doing life. I know about all of it, so I can speak on it.
I heard that the “Try Me” video was monumental for Detroit. You brought 2 different sides of the hood together and that was something that just doesn’t happen out there.
Yeah, man. That’s what I’m trying to do, I’m trying to bring the city back. Doughboyz Cashout, Team Eastside, everybody – I’m just trying to bring it together. But it’s a good time to just do sh*t. Everybody has all eyes on us right now, so it’s like, why not? I thought it would be a good look for the city.
There’s been a lot going on with the song, from Drake quoting it on Instagram, to KD tweeting about it and even Wiz Khalifa and E-40 jumping on it for a remix.
Every day, it’s like something is happening. It’s crazy and I’m excited for it. I love E-40, I love that he got on my track. It’s like, “What’s gonna happen today?” Even doing this interview, everything is exciting to me so I’m just loving this sh*t.
Now that your career is taking off and you’re going to be on the road a lot, did you start putting together a team? Did you have anything in place at all when you dropped “Try Me?”
That’s what I’m saying, I dropped the song on my own. I wasn’t really speaking to nobody, I was just doing my own thing. I just dropped the song and I definitely didn’t realize it was going to be what it is. At first I was like, “When this hits 5,000 plays, I’m gonna let a song go.” I was in that state, because n*ggas wasn’t really showing love. It was kind of slow for me, so I’m like I’m just gonna keep dropping songs on my SoundCloud until something happens. My sh*t went past 5,000 obviously and I was like, “Oh wait! Hold up, I shouldn’t drop another song right now.” I got a good team behind me now, management and everything.
What about bringing friends on the road? I know that’s always a big debate.
Not yet. We’re not at that point yet. The stuff we’ve been doing is important business stuff, but soon they’ll be able to travel. My friends, they gotta pull it together because it’s crazy, you know what I mean? They’ll be traveling with me soon. My brother, he does my hair. I need him!
Tell me a little bit about your style.
I just like to dress comfortable for the most part. I don’t like to walk around in uncomfortable ass clothes. I just buy what I like. When it’s time to put on a dress and heels, y’all will see me turn up.
You did show a little bit of body in that video though! Was that like a, “I’m going to let people know what I’m working with real quick,” kind of thing?
Yeah, I mean that’s what it is. You’ll see! I’ve got different flavors, man. It depends on how I’m feeling or the occasion. People are going to have their perceptions, but whatever.
So what’s next for DeJ Loaf?
Mixtape next month. I’ve got a title but I don’t want to reveal it. Everybody’s reaching out, and I say that humbly. I’m out here in New York, I would love to work with Remy Ma. I’ve been listening to her since she came in the game. IBGM, we the new Death Row. We about to go crazy, man.