Sounds Like: True versatility. One minute the Detroit-bred vocalist is a deceptively sweet-sounding, throwback R&B devotee and the next she's an in-your-face, fire-spitting madwoman.
For Fans of: Jeremih, Aaliyah, Drake if he manned up and became a woman
Why You Should Pay Attention: The 23-year-old Detroit rapper seemingly came from nowhere when she released the darkly twinkling "Try Me," but she's been on a rollercoaster ever since. After getting the coveted Drake co-sign (he put some of her lyrics on his Instagram), Dej saw her song reimagined by Wiz Khalifa and E-40, appeared on a track with Eminem and got a deal with Columbia — becoming one of the few female rap artists with a major label contract. Her latest mixtape, Sell Sole, shows her ability to embody whatever corner of the genre she chooses, with a confidence and a writing ability well beyond her years. "My style is free, I do whatever I feel at the moment," she says. "If I feel like singing, I sing, if I feel like rapping, I rap. I used to be too shy to sing on my earlier songs when I first started out, recording now is more comfortable. So I let loose and do what I want. Swanging!"
She Says: "Nowadays I feel like women rappers come into the game with the same mentality from way back. They think, 'It's hard to be a female in the industry.' They come in using that and it gets them nowhere. My mentality is just to create. No rules. No old-school remedies. What's next for me is to stamp my name everywhere and become one of the best to ever do it."
Hear for Yourself: Listen to where it all started with "Try Me" — 13 million plays and counting! By Cady Drell