While millions first discovered Doja Cat by way of her ridiculous 2018 viral novelty R&B hit "MOOO!" (perhaps better known by its lyrical hook "Bitch! I'm a cow!") that goofy standalone track was by no means representative of her larger creative potential. In fact, Doja Cat had been in the game for years before she donned a cheap cow costume for the silly "MOOO!" video, signed to a major label for her R&B/pop rap hybrid songwriting since 2014. Her second full-length album, Hot Pink, branches out significantly from the somewhat flavorless fare of 2018's Amala, leaning harder into hypersexual rhymes but also trying out some adventurous new moves. Doja Cat channels Nicki Minaj's dirty-minded flows and inarguable pop appeal on the not-safe-for-work jams "Cyber Sex" and "Say So," and crafts a playful album highlight with "Juicy" featuring Tyga. The album's12 tracks rarely stay in one place. "Streets" is a murky and slow-burning web of dark harmonies, trap hi-hats, and psychedelic textures. Breathy vocals break out into unexpected scattershot rhymes before the song is over and the next tune opens up with a muted piano loop and a drastically different instrumental approach. Doja Cat's strikes at different styles come off as more generic than exciting at times. "Like That" sounds uninspired and formulaic, and at its worst, Hot Pink fails to engage. For every less-than-captivating song, however, Doja Cat comes back with something strange, beautiful, or unexpected. "Bottom Bitch" centers its unexpectedly moving instrumental around a slowed-down blink-182 guitar sample. The testament to female love and friendship blurs emo-rap tendencies with multiple vocal hooks. It's one of several hidden gems on the album and highlights Doja Cat's giddy curiosity and willingness to play with style and presentation. Not everything on Hot Pink is a knockout, but the experimentation results in some amazing standouts and other songs that are still fun or intriguing, even if they're not as memorable.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas