Doja Cat in 2019
|Birth name||Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini|
|Born||October 21, 1995|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini (born October 21, 1995), known professionally as Doja Cat, is an American singer, rapper and songwriter. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she began making and releasing music on SoundCloud as a teenager. Doja Cat signed a joint record deal with RCA Records and Kemosabe Records at the age of 17 and subsequently released her debut extended play, Purrr!, in 2014.
Doja Cat rose to prominence as an internet meme in 2018 with her novelty song "Mooo!", which went viral online. She subsequently became known for creating music videos and songs that achieve popularity on social media apps like TikTok and YouTube. She released her debut studio album, Amala, in 2018, followed by a new release in 2019, which included the singles "Tia Tamera" and "Juicy". Her second studio album, Hot Pink (2019), reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 as a result of the single "Say So", which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart following the release of a remix featuring Nicki Minaj.
Since the start of 2020, Doja Cat has received nominations for two BET Awards, two People's Choice Awards, one Billboard Music Award, two MTV Europe Music Awards and four MTV Video Music Awards, winning one of the latter for Push Best New Artist.
Dlamini was born on October 21, 1995, into an artistic family in Tarzana, Los Angeles. Her mother, Deborah Elizabeth Sawyer, is a Jewish-American painter. Her father, Dumisani Dlamini, is a South African actor, composer and film producer of Zulu ethnicity best known for Sarafina! Doja Cat has said her father was absent from her childhood and that she has never met him. She told The Fader she did not "hold grudges against him or anything in any way, but obviously it's a little weird" that he commented on her Instagram posts about how proud he was. Her father has denied these statements, saying he has a "healthy" relationship with his daughter.
Following her birth, Dlamini and her mother immediately moved to New York City, where they lived for five years. She returned to Oak Park, California, with her single mother, where she experienced a "sporty childhood", often skating and visiting Malibu for surf camps. It was during this time when she participated in ballet, tap and jazz lessons. Her mother played music from artists such as D'Angelo, Jamiroquai, Tupac, Earth, Wind & Fire and Erykah Badu in the house. She returned to Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles at the age of 11 and a half, where she lived in an ashram and practiced Hinduism for four years. During this time she also took part in breakdancing classes, further joining a competitive troupe. She would frequently skip school to participate in chatrooms. She told Paper that she had a near-"religious" obsession with the unnamed chat room, and would still participate in it as of December 2019.
2012–2017: Career beginnings and record deal
Doja Cat dropped out of high school at age 16 while in junior year, and spent time downloading beats from YouTube to create her own music. She taught herself to use GarageBand. She has mentioned that life after dropping out of high school was "messy." Doja Cat performed in a breakdancing crew and competed in dance battles in Los Angeles. For the first few months, she would upload songs onto SoundCloud and quickly take them down, until "So High" in late 2012, which she remembers crying over attracting 12 views. She got her stage name, "Doja Cat", from one of her cats and her favored strain of marijuana. She stated, "I was heavily addicted to weed and weed culture, so when I began rapping I thought of the word 'doja' and how it sounds like a girl's name."
At age 17, Doja Cat signed to RCA Records with a joint venture deal with Dr. Luke's vanity label, Kemosabe Records, in 2014. She signed to them in late 2013 but the deal was finalised in early 2014. She has declined to comment on her connection with Luke through Kemosabe. Later that year, Doja Cat released her debut EP, Purrr!, which was described as "spacey, eastern-influenced R&B" by The Fader. "So High" was re-released as a single prior to the EP's release. The song was also featured on the TV series Empire in the third episode of the first season. She continued to release music on SoundCloud as she started gaining more attention. In mid-2015, OG Maco announced via Twitter that Doja Cat had signed to his label, OGG. Following the reported signing, in late 2016, the two artists collaborated on "Monster" off of Maco's mixtape, Children of The Rage (2017). By then she had also started collaborating with other artists, such as her Kemosabe label-mate Elliphant, and Soundcloud-based rappers Skoolie Escobar, Pregnant Boy and frumhere.
2018–2019: Amala and "Mooo!"
On February 1, 2018, Doja Cat released the promotional single "Roll with Us", which entered Spotify's Global Viral 50 chart upon release. On March 9, 2018, she released the lead single, "Go to Town", which was released with an accompanying music video on the same day. "Candy" was released as the album's second single on March 23, 2018. The track would become a sleeper hit after a dance challenge on the video-sharing platform TikTok went viral in late 2019. Consequently, the single charted in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, the latter having the song peak at 86 on the Billboard Hot 100 making it her first solo entry on the chart. On March 30, 2018, Doja Cat's debut studio album Amala was released, including the three singles. She later claimed to have been under the influence for most of the production of the album. NPR described the album as a "manifesto of a young woman striving to take ownership of her craft, her image and her sexuality, mixing genres like dancehall, trap, house and R&B with a healthy dose of sass and humor." Most of the tracks on Amala were co-produced by her frequent collaborator, Yeti Beats, who also executively produced the album. At the time of its release, the album was largely ignored by critics and failed to chart within the top 200 selling albums released that week. Doja Cat continued to promote the album herself on social media platforms as well as touring for the album with the Amala Spring Tour and Amala Fall Tour respectively throughout 2018 and 2019.
On August 10, 2018, Doja Cat uploaded the completely self-produced music video "Mooo!" on YouTube. The single is a novelty song with absurdist lyrics where she fantasizes about being a cow. The video gathered attention and praise from popular artists such as Chance the Rapper, Katy Perry and Chris Brown. Due to popular demand following the music video's viral success, Doja Cat released a single version of "Mooo!" on August 31, 2018. In February 2019, Doja Cat released the single and accompanying video for "Tia Tamera" featuring Rico Nasty, which preceded the release of a deluxe edition of Amala. The re-release of the album included three new songs, including "Mooo!" and "Juicy", the first song released by Doja Cat that was co-produced by her label boss, Dr. Luke. Her ColorsXStudios performance of the latter song from March 2019, garnered over 21 million views on YouTube. A remix of "Juicy" featuring Tyga and its accompanying music video were released in August 2019. Following the release of the remix, the song debuted at 83 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Doja Cat's first entry on the chart, and ultimately peaked at 41. The song would eventually be certified Platinum in the United States. It led to Amala debuting for the first time on the Billboard 200 album chart in August as well.
2019–present: Hot Pink and breakthrough
On October 3, 2019, Doja Cat released "Bottom Bitch" which was dubbed the lead single from her second album. The single, co-produced by Doja herself, would be noted for sampling the Blink-182 single "What's My Age Again?". On October 24, 2019, she released the single "Rules" and announced her second studio album Hot Pink. Hot Pink was released on November 7, 2019 to generally favorable reviews. The album would eventually peak at number 9 on the Billboard 200. Her debut album, Amala, also reached a new peak on the Billboard 200 at number 138 around the time of Hot Pink's release. Doja Cat contributed "Boss Bitch" to the soundtrack of the superhero film Birds of Prey. The single entered the charts of 28 countries including United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
On January 28, 2020, Doja Cat's song "Say So" was sent to radio becoming the fourth single off of her album Hot Pink. The song was originally released alongside the album in November 2019, but the song gained immense popularity through the video-sharing platform TikTok. Doja Cat performed the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on February 26, 2020. The next day, Doja Cat released the music video for the song, directed by Hannah Lux Davis. The solo version of "Say So" peaked at number five on the Hot 100, becoming Doja Cat's first top 10 single, and has so far been the most streamed song of 2020 by a female artist in the US. In May 2020, following the release of a remix of "Say So", featuring Nicki Minaj, the single topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first number-one single for both artists. The remix also marked the first female collaboration since "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX as well as the first ever female rap collaboration to peak atop the chart.
On March 25, 2020, Doja Cat was set to embark on the Hot Pink Tour, before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tour was planned to include fifteen shows spanning across North America, including two Coachella performances. In May, Doja Cat featured on a remix of Canadian singer The Weeknd's single "In Your Eyes", and the song "Shimmy" by American rapper Lil Wayne. In June, Doja Cat featured on the song "Pussy Talk", from American rapper duo City Girls, released the music video for "Like That", and was nominated for two awards at the 2020 BET Awards. Doja Cat also donated $100,000 to the Justice For Breonna Taylor Fund that month, in support of the movement protesting police brutality against black persons in the United States. She also uploaded the demo song "Unisex Freestyle" to SoundCloud in late June 2020.
On August 7, 2020, Doja Cat commercially released the song "Freak" after originally being available through her SoundCloud account since November 2018. The song samples Paul Anka's 1959 song "Put Your Head on My Shoulder." Doja Cat performed a medley of the songs "Say So" and "Like That" at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. She was nominated for four awards at the ceremony including Song of the Year and Push Best New Artist, winning the latter. This became her first award win in her entire career. On September 4, 2020, Doja Cat appeared as a lead artist on the remix for Chloe x Halle's song "Do It" which featured City Girls and Mulatto. She also featured alongside Australian musician Sia on the track "Del Mar" from Puerto Rican singer Ozuna's album Enoc which also was released on September 4. Doja Cat was nominated for a Billboard Music Award, two People's Choice Awards and two MTV Europe Music Awards in late 2020. She performed a medley of "Juicy", "Say So" and "Like That" at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards in a burlesque theme that critics found inspired by the likes of Roxie Hart and Moulin Rouge. On October 19, 2020, Doja Cat performed both "Baby, I'm Jealous" with Bebe Rexha and "Del Mar" with Ozuna on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live! respectively.
Doja Cat has announced "N.A.S." (acronym for Niggas Ain't Shit) as her next release. She had previously leaked the song while on Instagram Live. "N.A.S" is expected to feature on an upcoming project alongside several other unreleased songs which Doja Cat also played while on Instagram live in June. American singer Ariana Grande mentioned in May 2020 that Doja Cat and her had recorded a duo in early 2020. Doja Cat has stated that her third studio album is complete and "all ready" for release. In an interview with MTV, she revealed that it incorporates musical elements of dancehall, afrobeat, funk and house.
After achieving mainstream recognition in 2018 with "Mooo!", Doja Cat sparked controversy on social media when her Twitter account history revealed the usage of homophobic slurs. In a tweet dating back to 2015, Doja Cat used the word "faggot" to describe hip hop artists Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, members of the musical collective Odd Future. Doja Cat initially defended her past remarks. She stated, "I called a couple people faggots when I was in high school in 2015 does this mean I don't deserve support? I've said faggot roughly like 15 thousand times in my life. Does saying faggot mean you hate gay people? I don't think I hate gay people. Gay is ok." Her response was met by even more backlash, including a critical tweet from Will and Grace actress Debra Messing. In her statement, Messing expressed disappointment with Doja for defending past ignorance and implored her to use her fame and platform for good. Doja Cat has since issued a series of apologies for her derogatory words and deleted her tweets. The controversy generated much discourse regarding the limits of "cancel culture", the growing trend of outcry on social media resulting in celebrities being deserted and careers abruptly derailed following publicized historic misconduct.
In May 2020, a 2015 song by Doja Cat titled "Dindu Nuffin" resurfaced. "Dindu Nuffin" is an alt-right term used to ridicule African-American victims of police brutality who claim that they are innocent. Doja Cat apologized by claiming that, though the song was meant to flip the meaning of the term, it was a "bad decision". She denied that the song was a response to police brutality or the death of Sandra Bland, calling the allegation "one of the most awful rumors that I've ever encountered". Doja Cat stated that, though she has previously criticized her own hair type, she does not have self-hatred or internalized racism. Doja Cat denied a raceplay rumor that originated from a viral video of her saying "nigger" in a chat room. She also denied engaging in online racist conversations during her participation in chat rooms, stating that "the narrative that it's a white supremacist chat is absolutely 100% incorrect." American rapper Nas referenced the controversy in his 2020 single "Ultra Black", with the lyrics "We goin' ultra black / Unapologetically black / The opposite of Doja Cat". She implicitly responded by sarcastically expressing how she was unfazed, saying "I am so offended by this song. Have you guys heard 'Fruit Salad' by The Wiggles?"
Doja Cat has cited American singer D'Angelo and Barbadian singer Rihanna among her biggest influences. In May 2020, Doja Cat stated American singer Beyoncé "is one of the driving forces of who I am in my career." In her early career, Doja Cat cited Japanese culture as an inspiration. She has also cited rapper Nicki Minaj as an influence with XXL writer Stacy-Ann Ellis noticing "their similar cartoonish rap deliveries and whimsical sartorial selects."
Doja Cat has stated that she "like[s] both [men and women]. I like dicks and I also like, um, I like people that I can have sex with. You can kind of have sex with anybody, right?" In 2019, she began dating indie rock musician JAWNY, although the pair split up in February 2020. In May 2020, in response to accusations of internalized racism, Doja Cat stated that she identifies as a black woman and has pride for her South African roots.
In March 2020, Doja Cat claimed on Instagram live that COVID-19 was only a "flu" and that she was not scared of it, mocking people concerned with the pandemic. However, in a July interview with Capital Xtra's breakfast program, she revealed that she was diagnosed with the virus but has since recovered after a "four-day symptom freak".
Awards and nominations
|BET Awards||2020||Video of the Year||"Say So"||Nominated|||
|Best Female Hip Hop Artist||Herself||Nominated|
|Billboard Music Awards||2020||Top R&B Song||"Juicy" (Tyga version)||Nominated|||
|BreakTudo Awards||2020||International Hit||"Say So"||Pending|||
|MTV Millennial Awards Brazil||2020||Global Hit||"Say So" (Nicki Minaj version)||Nominated|||
|International Collaboration (Feat Gringo)||Nominated|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||2020||Best Push Act||Herself||Pending|||
|Best New Act||Pending|
|MTV Video Music Awards||2020||Push Best New Artist||Won|||
|Song of the Year||"Say So"||Nominated|
|Song of Summer||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Mexico Kids' Choice Awards||2020||Global Hit (Hit Mundial)||Longlisted|||
|People's Choice Awards||2020||Best New Artist of 2020||Herself||Pending|||
|Soundtrack Song of 2020||"Boss Bitch"||Pending|
|TEC Awards||2020||Outstanding Creative Achievement – Record Production/Album||Hot Pink||Pending|||
- Purrr! Tour (2014)
- Amala Spring Tour (2017–2018)
- Amala Fall Tour (2018–2019)
- Hot Pink Tour (2020; postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic)
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- Full birth name:
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"I was born in Tarzana, moved to Rye. When we moved back we went straight to an ashram, and we lived on an Ashram for about four years." Event occurs at 0:43 in embedded video.
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