Pincurls peek out from a small cowgirl hat. Pulling up to the stables, a small black goat greets us. We pass a miniature rock waterfall and a light post with a sign that reads: To begin, she has DeJ lead the horse around a small pen to build her confidence.
The instructor is a pro at stroking egos, but seems legitimately impressed with her swift grasp of riding. Whenever she asks if DeJ wants to proceed to the next level — onto the dirt trail, and then over near the lake — DeJ accepts, with no signs of panic or anxiety. After a lesson about posture in the saddle, DeJ learns to direct the horse into a quicker trot.
At her request, I stand off to the side with her iPhone and capture footage of the ride for Snapchat. The instructor graciously pauses during picturesque moments to snap photos of DeJ on the Canon. One user has already reposted the shot of her on a horse, which she uploaded to Instagram, along with a joke: In conversation, she has a habit of clipping sentences into fragments capped with ellipses that sever her thoughts. I still work on it, though.
DeJ could find commercial and critical success alongside them. Mostly, she speaks through social media, feeding fans from a distance — a method that offers daily updates inspirational quotes, outfit-of-the-day shots without oversharing.
Who does she date? What is she wearing? People always trying to figure me out. DeJ, born Deja Trimble, and Des shared a bunk bed. Their mom, Latrice Hudson, a beautician, had a home-based salon business.
Joanne assigned them chores and kept an immaculate home. She sold drugs, too. About two years later, the kids moved to the eastside with their mom into the projects of Fairview Manor. She stayed in her books, writing, writing, writing, writing, all day. I get emotional when I see certain things, a little teary-eyed.
When I see fathers with their daughters or just little stuff — it just come out of me. I want the world to see me. Over the phone from her home in Detroit today, Tranica sounds as much like a Rugrats character as DeJ does, with her soft, childlike voice. She remembers the two of them being inseparable. DeJ says she always won. Tranica recalls DeJ catching fits whenever her mom made her wear their school uniform, a dress.
She had a mind of her own. After that, she held typical jobs for an year-old: The job made her miserable. We both get carded for drinks. Throughout the night, several young fans approach our table. After the guy leaves, she vents. After signing to Columbia in , she spent more than a year traveling for appearances and performances before leaving home and settling down with her mother and siblings in Atlanta.
I never want to be caught up, just doing it for a couple blocks. She quickly realized how much work it would take to satisfy them.
Now I have thousands of followers on Twitter. From a plum-colored backpack, she pulls out a MacBook wrapped in a light wood grain case. The laptop is full of songs for Liberated, which has no release date yet but is 90 percent complete, according to her manager. From behind a pair of prescription eyeglasses with blush-colored frames, DeJ sits at a console, making minimal eye contact, her words trapped somewhere between her mind and the glow of LED spotlights.
When she first started recording last summer, she says, she was determined to make a classic rap album. I just wanted to rap, like hardcore. I wanted people to take it seriously. I was just so focused on that at first. For instance, she plans to drop the untitled song separately from the album, packaged with intense visuals. While recording over the summer, DeJ developed a rapport with those collaborators and credits them with making her more of a perfectionist.
But DeJ knows loosening her grip on solitude will get her closer to her goal. You gotta let me be me. In the studio, I ask DeJ if they were dating. We were definitely into each other. We were never, like, an item. After riding horses, over counterfeit Caribbean food at another chain restaurant, Bahama Breeze, DeJ declines to address Redd.
We can talk about dating or whatever. Like, I love people. Fans can get close, but not too close. People can continue to wonder. Her first album has yet to drop and her mind is already ahead of music. At the studio on the first day we meet, DeJ and her manager stand in front of a laptop and mull over options for a future line of merch. She wants something for everyone.