Why the ‘Say So’ remix beats the original

Doja Cat's

Kemosabe and RCA [Fair Use]

Doja Cat’s “Say So” blew up on Tik Tok and topped music charts, prompting a remix featuring Nicki Minaj.

Linda Arnoldus, Staff Writer

I am a long-time fan of Doja Cat. I love all her music–new and old–and I would call myself a die-hard fan. However, the song “Say So,” which the rapper/singer released as the fifth single on her album “Hot Pink,” was not my favorite. 

The song was a hit, peaking at #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (Doja’s first top 10 single), but in my opinion, this didn’t happen because of the song’s merits but rather because of its TikTok virality. TikTok loved “Say So,” and once a dance to the song was created, it became an unstoppable force. As of today there are circa 20 million TikToks with her song alone. This is very common. TikTok, an app that allows you to create short videos to music and other sounds, gives many artists a platform to achieve overnight fame.

The song’s undeniable popularity was probably a factor in Doja collaborating with Nicki Minaj, another popular female rapper, to create a remix of the song. I was very excited to hear about this, because as much as I love Doja, everyone knows that Nicki runs the rap game. Fans have been wanting a collaboration between Doja and Nicki because their fan bases have a huge overlap. I was personally excited because I knew Nicki could give the song the strong verses it needed. 

Doja is well known for her lyrical wordplay, comical song topics and verses, and chill personality. The viral song that skyrocketed her career was called “B—- I’m a Cow.” This is how I, and most of her current fans, discovered her. At first I was just infatuated with the songs’ humor and catchiness, but when I dug deeper into her discography, I found songs that I really, really liked. I realized that Doja was a talented singer, not just a one-hit wonder, and the rest of the world realized that too, as support for her music grew exponentially. 

Doja has a lot of talent, but “Say So” seemed like a cheap sell-out pop song designed to have broad appeal and marketability compared to the rest of her discography. I typically love every new song Doja comes out with, but when I first listened to “Say So,” I liked it but didn’t love it. It was very pop-y and lacked the clever wordplay that usually sells me on her songs. I felt that the lyrics and verses were unclear and generic. Thankfully, Nicki swooped in to save the day.

When I first heard the remix, I loved it right away. It was an iconic collaboration and Nicki definitely completed the song. The original song featured only Doja’s vocals and was, quite frankly, repetitive and vague. It’s hard to even understand what she’s saying, and after looking up the lyrics, I realize that she wasn’t saying much at all. There is virtually no wordplay in this song, and the entire song is basically just a restatement of one thing–keep me focused and let me know how you feel. When Nicki appeared on the remix, she changed everything. 

From the very first seconds of the song, the remix is established as different from the original with Nicki ad-libbing lines like “This the remix” with her signature tongue roll. After the short intro and chorus, the song immediately jumps into Nicki’s verse. This verse goes hard. The beginning of the verse starts out like this: 

Every time I take a break, the game be so boring

Pretty like Naomi, Cassie, plus Lauren

Spittin’ like Weezy, Foxy, plus Lauryn

Ball like the Rams, see, now that’s Gordon

They don’t understand the bag talk, I’m foreign

When they think they top the queen, they start fallin’

This is classic Nicki. She compares herself to supermodels in the looks department and to other well-known artists in the music department. She then makes a pun on both the Los Angeles Rams and Gordon Ramsey. This conveys the message that she’s “balling” like these two, who are both very successful. Then she says “They don’t understand the bag talk,” meaning money talk, and says “I’m foreign,” a double pun because people can’t understand foreign languages and her bags are foreign. Then she establishes herself as Queen of the rap game. 

This is peak lyrical wordplay. Her verses are seamless, catchy and clever, and they allude to many different topics. Nicki’s verse has it’s signature female empowerment vibe mixed with the classic Nicki slant rhymes.

Further down in the verse, we get these lines:

Used to be bi, but now I’m just hetero

Ain’t talkin’ medicine, but I made him more a fiend

Ever since I put the cookie on quarantine

Nicki, who admitted to coming out as bisexual for attention in an interview with Rolling Stone, received a lot of backlash for this lyric. Many Twitter users accused her of feeding into the stigma that being bisexual is a phase. I personally think that this lyric could also be interpreted as her saying that she actually used to be bisexual but her sexuality has changed, but nonetheless, it doesn’t exactly send a nice message to the LGBT community. It certainly doesn’t help that Doja went through a scandal for using the word “f—-t” in a tweet in 2015. She has since said that she used this language out of ignorance and even dropped hints that she doesn’t identify as straight. I think that this verse could be interpreted either as plain ignorance, as both rappers viewing sexuality in a fluid and casual way or a bit of both.

The next line is a pun on morphine followed by a timely allusion to the world’s current worldwide self-quarantine.

After another chorus sung by Doja, it’s time for Doja’s verse. Her verse is the same one that was in the original song. The song would have been much better if Doja had included her own inventive verses instead of just chopping up her song and inserting Nicki’s. I felt like this was less of a collaboration and more of a quick attempt to capitalize on the song’s popularity while it lasted. 

There is another chorus sung by Doja before Nicki does the outro. That’s right–this song only had two verses. It might have flowed better if they made the outro a second verse and ended with the chorus. Nicki’s lines are inventive nonetheless.

The outro is a clear expression of humor, female empowerment and sexual allusion. Nicki is characteristically sexual as part of her “brand” and typically uses her verses to explain sex as a form of female power, and this line is right on par with that. There are so many different layers to her wordplay. The hidden layers of meaning keep unraveling every time you listen to it, which in my opinion, is what makes a good rap song. 

Overall, I am absolutely obsessed with this remix. Everything from the song cover to the music videos are vintage themed, an aesthetic that I really appreciate and identify with. Do I think the song could have been better? Yes. Will I continue to listen to this song every day? Also yes. I still support both artists, I still respect them and their music, and I will continue to support them as artists and as people despite their controversies.