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Doja Cat is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Her career began almost accidentally with the release of “Mooo!” which became a viral meme song and launched her into popularity. Her career continued to grow, heavily aided by her active social media presence on apps like TikTok and Instagram. She is also known for her genrebending and often out-of-the-box music style and artistic abilities. Early life
Doja was born on October 21, 1995, into a very artistic family in Los Angeles, California in the Tarzana neighborhood. 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 starring in the 1992 musical film Sarafina! According to Doja, she never met her father growing up. Her father denies this however, stating that he has a "healthy" relationship with his daughter.
Soon after her birth, Doja and her mom moved to New York City, where they lived for five years. Her family later moved back to California in Oak Park, where her mother enrolled her in ballet, tap and jazz lessons from the age of five. Her aunt, a singer, gave her singing lessons to help her get into a performing arts school. Her family then moved near the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles when she was 11 years old, where they lived in an ashram in the mountains of Agoura Hills and practiced Hinduism for four years. During this time of her life Doja would wear head-covering scarves and sing bhajans at temple. She claims that she lacked interest in school from then on, instead taking a liking for dance. While at the ashram she had been dancing the style of Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam. As she grew older and moved away from the ashram, she moved onto breakdancing classes and joined a professional poplocking troupe with whom she competed in dance battles throughout Los Angeles while still attending high school. She also frequently skipped school to participate in online chatrooms. She eventually dropped out of high school at 16 during her junior year. 2012–2017: Career beginnings and record deal Doja Cat has described life after dropping out of school as "messy", claiming that she slept on the floor and spent "all night and day" browsing the internet, looking for beats and instrumentals from YouTube which she downloaded and used to create her own music. She taught herself to sing, rap and use GarageBand while at home without a job, frequently making music and uploading it to SoundCloud.
She got her stage name from one of her cats as well as her favorite strain of marijuana, stating, "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." Her career began to take shape in 2012. Toward the end of the year, "So High" became the first permanent upload on her SoundCloud account, and soon caught the attention of Dr. Luke, who signed her to Kemosabe Records, RCA Records and publishing company Prescription Songs when she was 17. This deal also came with a temporary artist management partnership with Roc Nation. In August 2014, Doja Cat released her debut EP, Purrr!. "So High" was repackaged and released as her solo commercial debut single prior to the EP's release, and was later featured on the Fox series Empire in the third episode of the show's first season.
In mid-2015, Doja Cat signed to OG Maco's label, OGG. Following the signing in late 2016, Maco and Doja Cat collaborated on the song "Monster", from Maco's 2017 mixtape, Children of The Rage. 2018–2019: Amala and "Mooo!"
In February 2018, Doja Cat released the promotional single "Roll with Us". The following month, she released the single and music video for "Go to Town", which would become the lead single from her debut album."Candy" was released as the album's second single that same month. The track would become a sleeper hit after a dance challenge on Tiktok went viral in 2019. This led to the single charting in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, with the latter having the song peak at 86 on the Billboard Hot 100, making this her first solo entry on the chart. On March 30, 2018, her debut studio album Amala was released, including the three singles. At the time of its release, the album was largely ignored by critics and failed to chart in any market. The album would later peak at number 138 on the Billboard 200 in late 2019.
In late August 2018, Doja Cat sparked controversy on social media when her Twitter account history revealed the usage of derogatory language toward gay people. In a tweet dating back to 2015, she used a slur word to describe hip hop artists Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. Doja Cat initially defended her past remarks, but eventually issued a series of apologies for her words and has since deleted her tweets. As a result of the controversy, Doja Cat was declared the Milkshake Duck of 2018 by NME.
Also in August 2018, Doja Cat uploaded the completely self-produced music video for her song "Mooo!", ‘meme music’ with absurdist lyrics where Doja fantasizes about being a cow, on YouTube. The video went viral as a meme. Due to popular demand following the music video's viral success, she released a single version of "Mooo!" later that month. In February 2019, she 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". 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 number 83 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Doja Cat's first entry on the chart, and ultimately peaked at number 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.
2019–2020: Breakthrough with Hot Pink The end of 2019 was when Doja Cat had her breakthrough into the mainstream. She began to reach major success in October 2019 when she released "Bottom Bitch", the lead single from her second album. This was followed by the release of the single "Rules" alongside the announcement of 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. She later released the single "Boss Bitch" as part of the soundtrack for the 2020 film Birds of Prey.
In January 2020, "Say So" was sent to radio to become the fourth single off of Hot Pink. The song was originally released alongside the album in November 2019, but gained popularity afterward on TikTok. She performed the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in February 2020. She released the music video directed by Hannah Lux Davis for the song the next day. The solo version of "Say So" peaked at number five on the Hot 100, becoming her first top-ten single, and was the most streamed song of 2020 by a female artist in the United States. 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.
In March 2020, Doja Cat was set to embark on the Hot Pink Tour in support of the album, before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That same month, she received backlash after saying on Instagram live that COVID-19 was only a "flu" and that she was not scared of it. In a July interview with Capital Xtra's breakfast program, she revealed that she was diagnosed with COVID-19 but has since recovered after a "four-day symptom freak out". Later that October, Doja Cat was criticized for participating in Kendall Jenner's Halloween and birthday celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was featured on a remix of The Weeknd's single "In Your Eyes" in May 2020, as well as on the single "Shimmy" by rapper Lil Wayne from the deluxe version of his 2020 album Funeral. In June, she was featured on the single "Pussy Talk" by the City Girls. She then released the music video for her single "Like That". At the 20th BET Awards, Doja Cat was nominated for two awards, Best Female Hip Hop Artist and Video of the Year.
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 they are innocent. After apologizing, Doja Cat said that while the song was intended to flip the term's meaning, it was a "bad decision". She took to Instagram to address multiple accusations and past actions after footage began circulating of her on Tinychat in a chat room saying the n-word to members of the altright/ incel community. She apologized to those offended and said she shouldn't have been on certain chat room sites, although she maintained that she had never been involved in any racist conversations. Frequent users of the chat room later came forth and revealed that the nature of the chatroom was not specifically racist, also saying that Doja Cat never said anything discriminatory in her conversations. In June 2020, she donated $100,000 to the Justice For Breonna Taylor Fund, in support of Taylor's family.
In August 2020, the song "Freak", which had been on SoundCloud since 2018, was officially released on digital platforms. She won the award for Push Best New Artist at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, where she also performed a medley of the songs "Say So" and "Like That". She was credited as a lead artist on the remix for Chloe x Halle's song "Do It", which also featured City Girls and Mulatto, the following month. She was featured alongside Sia on the track "Del Mar" from singer Ozuna's 2020 album ENOC, also released in September. The "Juicy" remix featuring Tyga was nominated for Top R&B Song at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards. Doja Cat was featured on singer Bebe Rexha's single "Baby, I'm Jealous", the lead single from Rexha's upcoming second studio album, in October 2020. She performed a burlesque-themed medley of "Juicy", "Say So" and "Like That" at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, inspired by Chicago and Moulin Rouge. That same month, Doja Cat performed both "Baby, I'm Jealous" with Rexha and "Del Mar" with Ozuna on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, respectively. Doja Cat was featured on the album track "Motive" from Ariana Grande's 2020 album Positions, which peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming both her highest debut and secondever top 40 entry.
Doja Cat performed a metal rendition of "Say So" at the 2020 MTV Europe Music Awards ceremony, where she also won the award for Best New Act. She won the award for The New Artist of 2020 at the 46th People's Choice Awards. She also won both New Artist of the Year and Favourite Soul/R&B Female Artist at the 2020 American Music Awards ceremony, where she performed "Baby, I'm Jealous" with Bebe Rexha. Doja Cat’s explosive career has earned her lots of media attention and landed her a spot on some of music’s most coveted lists. According to sales in the United States, Billboard ranked Doja Cat at number five on both the Top New Artists of 2020 and Top Female Artists of 2020 charts. After her on-demand audio streams in the U.S. increased by 300% from 2019, Rolling Stone ranked her at number one on their list of the ten biggest breakthrough artists of 2020. Cosmopolitan declared Doja Cat "hip-hop's most fierce upcoming rapper." Forbes named Doja Cat "one of the top breakout stars of 2020" while including her on their annual 30 Under 30 list. The Kyiv Post called her "one of the biggest rising female artists in the U.S. music scene." Doja Cat was the fourth most-Googled musician of 2020 in the United States. On December 24, 2020, Doja Cat released a series of videos on her YouTube channel named "Hot Pink Sessions" where she performed three songs twice with two different "looks". On December 31, 2020, Doja Cat performed "Say So", "Like That", and "Juicy" at the annual Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve show.
2021–present: Planet Her
On January 7, 2021, Doja Cat was featured on the single "Best Friend" by rapper Saweetie, and appeared in the accompanying music video. The following week, Doja Cat appeared alongside Megan Thee Stallion on the remix of "34+35" by Ariana Grande. Following the release of the remix, the song reached a new peak of number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. In early 2021, "Streets" became a sleeper hit after live performances of the song went viral on TikTok. TikTok also spawned a viral challenge which uses a mashup of "Streets" and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" by Paul Anka. This caused the song to enter the Billboard Hot 100, which peaked at number 16. Doja Cat was nominated for three awards at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, namely Best New Artist, and her single "Say So" being nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. In 2021, she was placed on "Time's 100 Next" list, which highlights 100 emerging figures, with her write-up being penned by rapper Lil Nas X.
Starting in September 2020, Doja Cat began releasing hints of her third studio album. In March 2021, she revealed to V Magazine that it was "nearly done". In this same interview, Doja Cat revealed the album's official title, Planet Her, and its prospective release window of summer 2021. She also revealed that it would feature a collaboration with SZA titled "Kiss Me More". The song reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. With an accompanying music video, the song was released as the lead single from the album on April 9, 2021. Later that month, Doja Cat performed the songs "Best Friend" with Saweetie, "Rules", "Streets" and a solo version of "Kiss Me More" at Triller's inaugural Fight Club event. On April 23, 2021, Doja Cat released an NFT marketplace titled "Juicy Drops". In May 2021, Doja Cat won the award for Top Female R&B Artist at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, where she performed "Kiss Me More" with SZA. Later that month, she performed a solo version of the same song in a medley with "Streets" and "Say So" at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards, where she won the award for Best New Pop Artist. The song "Need to Know" served as a promotional single from Planet Her as it was released on June 11, 2021. Doja Cat wrote that it was released in anticipation of the "more important" second single, which is confirmed to be "You Right" featuring The Weeknd. Doja Cat officially announced the release of Planet Her and revealed its tracklist and album art via social media a few hours before the release of "Need to Know". The album received generally positive reviews from music critics and became the biggest weekly debut for an album by a female rapper in Spotify’s history.
Doja Cat will guest star in season 2 of the TV series Dave, which premiered on June 16, 2021.On Labor Day weekend, Doja Cat will perform at Jay-Z's Made In America Festival. From November 12 to November 14, 2021, Doja Cat will perform at the Day N Vegas festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.