She's into writing absurd and fun songs.
For many young rappers and artists, 2019 has been good to them in terms of exposure. With fresh faces and names like DaBaby, Polo G, Gunna, Lil Nas X, and Blueface, the rap and hip-hop scene is welcoming new talent, and many of their songs and collaborations have gone viral.
But there’s another eclectic artist whose viral video skyrocketed her to fame. And while you may only recognize her “Mooo!” video, it’s important to know just how skilled and musically inclined she is. So ... who is Doja Cat?
1. She's of mixed heritage.
Born Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini, her father is South African and her mother is Jewish-American. Her dad, Dumisani Dlamini, is an actor, film producer, and composer, while her mother, Deborah Elizabeth Sawyer, is a painter. Her mother raised her and her father wasn’t involved in her life.
Of her absent father, in an interview with Fader she said, “I don’t hold grudges against him or anything in any way, but obviously it’s a little weird [that he comments on her Instagram].” She also has siblings, adding, “It’s always great to have both of your parents in your life and all of your brothers and sisters and everybody loves each other, but, like, s*** isn’t like that sometimes.”
But because of her talented family, she grew up around music, playing piano and dancing, eventually molding her writing and rapping skills. She notes her inspirations as Nicki Minaj, Erykah Badu, Jamiroquai, D’Angelo Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, and Lady Sovereign.
2. She experimented with music in her bedroom as a teen.
Doja Cat didn’t initially want to share her music on the internet, so she began singing in her bedroom. She told Fader, “I think I wanted to sing, but I just couldn’t because I was so shy. I didn’t really know how to begin that other than like, singing in my room, locking the door, and trying to sing kind of quietly. I knew my mom would want to listen and she would probably bug me about it.”
When she was 16, she recorded songs on GarageBand, posting them to YouTube, and getting a few likes. Her first song on SoundCloud was “So High,” released in 2012 when she was 17, and she eventually signed with RCA/Kemosabe records in 2014. She then released tracks on SoundCloud before releasing her debut EP.
3. She's had a great career since.
Her EP, Prrr!, came out in 2014, and since then, she’s released two albums: Amala in 2018, and Hot Pink in November 2019. Her albums and EP include tracks like “No Police,” “Roll With Us,” “Go to Town,” and collaborations with other artists on “Tia Tamera,” “Monster,” and “Right Side.”
But she’s most well known for her odd smash hit “Mooo!” which currently has about 1.3 million views on YouTube. She made the song with an intent to make it into a meme. Luckily, that’s exactly what it became.
4. She’s also been the subject of controversy.
Following the viral success of “Mooo!” the internet went into a frenzy when they discovered a tweet from 2015, where Doja Cat used the homophobic F-word to describe Early Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator.
She initially defended herself, saying, “I called a couple people f*****s when I was in high school in 2015 does this mean I don’t deserve support? I’ve said f***** roughly like 15 thousand times in my life. Does saying f***** mean you hate gay people? I don’t think I hate gay people. Gay is ok.”
After receiving backlash from celebrities and Twitter, she released a public apology, saying, “I truly apologize to anyone that I’ve offended or deeply hurt with my words. I used hateful and derogatory words out of ignorance and didn’t intend to discriminate against anyone for their race, religion, or sexual orientation. I understand how serious this is and know that I have let a lot of my fans and supporters down. I promise to do better for myself and each and every one of you.”
In an email to Fader after her interview, she expanded on the controversy, revealing, “I said some insensitive stuff a long time ago when I was young and at the time didn’t understand how it would hurt people. It’s something [I] learned a lot from and I understand that it was not well written or thought through and I apologized (and still apologize) if it offended anyone. Truth is, I love everyone that is a good person regardless of what they look like, walk like, or who they love.”
5. Writing her second album was much different than writing her first.
Why? Because, according to her, she was smoking weed while writing the first. But she quit smoking weed before writing the second.
“My last album was me super-high all the time. When I stopped and did [Hot Pink], I’ve never been more concise and clear and level-headed. People will love me and hate me for it: ‘Why doesn’t she sound like she doesn’t know what she’s talking about anymore?’
I used to write stuff where it didn’t matter. Now, there are things I believe in that get me excited and piss me off. I’m actually reflecting on who I am as a person... I thought it’d be cool to be that person smoking so much weed, that it was the only way to be respected. Then I realized, ‘Oh, yeah, I can just be myself.’ I’m making so much more music now.”
6. She recently performed with Tyga.
During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Tyga joined her on stage. She was dressed in a strange watermelon outfit, with backup dancers dressed with lemon wedges on their heads. The two performed “Juicy,” which featured Tyga on the recording, and debuted at #85 on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. She’s perfectly fine making silly songs.
With “Mooo!” it’s clear Doja Cat doesn’t take herself too seriously. In fact, she enjoys writing songs about strange topics, and she creates them spontaneously.
“That’s a small portion of my career: taking a moment to do something stupid. i have a song called ‘Waffles Are Better Than Pancakes.’ If I can’t be goofy, I’ll go insane. I can talk about waffles and how much I hate spiders all day, but I can’t sit and write about heartfelt [stuff] unless I have the emotional space to do it,” she told the LA Times.
8. But Doja Cat doesn’t use social media too much.
Aside from using Instagram live to freestyle, she tends to stay away from social media platforms. She says it’s because of the negativity online:
“I don’t check Twitter as much or tweet as often because, honestly, sometimes social media is draining and brings out all of the negative things going on. It’s a place where there are bullies and people analyzing everything you post looking for something wrong, so, for me, the healthiest thing has been to step away and focus on what’s important.”
9. She’s apparently an expert in birdwatching.
While appearing as a guest on Birding with Charles, Doja Cat offered some advice to how Charles could “achieve virality with his new passion, helping him achieve greater heights than ever before.”
She told him, “You need a meme. You have to film birds in the trees and then superimpose the face of DJ Khaled and maybe Desiigner on each of the birds. Then just edit in ‘We the Best, Another one,’ and be like, ‘That’s the mating call.'”
10. She’s dating Johnny Utah.
Johnny Utah is an indie musician and former nursing student from Philadelphia, PA. The two apparently met after Doja Cat looked at his YouTube page, hating his music but loving his pants! She wrote “baby I love you” in the comments of his Instagram, and he wrote back saying he told his brother they were a couple. So strange how things work out, no?
Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.