Over the past month, the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 featured debuts by Tyler, the Creator and Doja Cat, two artists who, early in their careers, sometimes functioned as trolls. They are children of the internet with a taste for friction — Tyler as the leader of the raucous, parent-unsettling Odd Future crew, and Doja as an absurdist with a reckless streak.
Now they’re at the center of pop, and their new albums represent different ways of maturing in the spotlight. Doja is a musical centrist, but imbues her songs with sexual friskiness and light camp. Tyler, eager to show off his gift for straight-ahead hip-hop (a world he’s still somewhat excluded from), has moved on from trolling outsiders to trolling insiders.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about how these two musicians have navigated paths from the margins to the center, and about whether, in order to be an effective 2020s pop star, you need to have a little bit of troll in you after all.