The Rise & Fall….and RISE AGAIN of Doja Cat
Doja Cat is a Hip-Hop/pop/hip-pop artist from Los Angeles California, Tarzana to be exact. In August 2014, she released her debut project, an EP titled onomatopoeically titled “Purrr!”. Purrr! is a 5-track EP with spacey, airy production and Hip-Hop/R&B influences. The success of “So High” off this EP would lead her to landing a deal with RCA Records.
Between the 2014 release of Purr! EP and her debut album Amala in 2018, Doja Cat released music on her Soundcloud and Youtube pages, gaining the ears and hearts of listeners by attaching herself to left-field production and collaborating with the likes of Iman Omari, L8LOOMER, and Elliphant. Doja’s ability to jump-over foreign, left-field production, flowing in rap cadence, and also sinking into the beat with dreampop-esque singing vocals, won over thousands.
In 2018, Doja would finally release her debut album Amala (her first name) via Kemosabe Records. Amala was released on March 30, 2018 to warm reception. Sonically, the production was much larger than what we’d heard Doja on previously. Songs like the infectious “Go to Town” features grandiose bass and prominent keys; “Morning Light” feels much more mainstream with its familiar BPM and claps/snaps. But still, Doja sounded comfortably at home on the album.
Despite how much I enjoy Amala, I’d be lying if I said it was a huge hit when it dropped. The masses were definitely coming onto her (slowly), but it wasn’t until the August 2018 release of a satirical rap song titled “Mooo!” that Doja Cat gained mainstream prominence.
On “Mooo!” Doja Cat is completely non-serious, flagrantly joking on wax and in the accompanying video made on basic Photobooth software. She’s rapping, err fantasizing, about being a cow. That’s it; no punchline and no deeper message. On “Mooo!”, Doja Cat was Doja Cow. The song doesn’t nearly contain the same brevity and sophistication as her debut album nor her Soundcloud drops. But still, even with lackluster effort, Doja Cat’s songwriting skills and charisma grabbed the attention of listeners.
Sonically, the production on “Mooo!” is much more in the cozy, left-field direction of her Soundcloud roots than many of the songs on Amala are. It’s probably why she sounds so at-home and comfortable on the song:
On “Mooo!”, Doja Cat wittingly spits:
“Got milk, bitch? Got beef? (Got beef?)/
Got steak, ho? Got cheese? (Got it)/”
Her rap word association skills provide comic relief:
“These heifers got nothin’ on me/
Stakes high, need a side of collard greens (Collard greens)/”
When the music video for “Mooo!” released, Doja became a viral hit overnight. The music video has since gained over 40 million views on Youtube as of writing.
Despite the success of “Mooo!”, it can be dangerous to hit with a song like this early in an artist’s career. As an up & coming artist, you don’t want to pigeon-hole yourself as a meme or parody. Luckily for Doja, she had released an album full of polish months earlier with Amala. The success of “Mooo!” had driven thousands to her album. Everything was looking UP for Doja Cat in 2018!
….until, the Internet hit squad set their sights on Doja and uncovered a tweet from 2015, where Doja Cat calls Odd Future affiliates Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator “faggots”. Now, to the Hip-Hop fan, this may not seem harsh at all. In fact, it might even come across as a term of endearment to the knowledgeable: Odd Future members, specifically Tyler, frequently called each other “faggots” in joking fashion during that era, where the derogatory phrase was much less critical in popular culture.
Doja Cat didn’t see the big deal either, she tweeted in response:
This response garnered even more hate from offended parties, until finally Doja issued an apology via Notes App.
And just like that…Doja Cat was in the pressure-cooker. Cancel culturalists celebrated as Doja Cat faded from the spotlight of her “Mooo!” viral hit. Uncharacteristically, Doja went quiet on social media. Her Twitter feed no longer full of her personality and her Instagram pictures posted largely without caption.
It wasn’t until January 31, 2019 that we heard from Doja Cat, returning to the scene with Rico Nasty on the voluptuous trap-influenced “Tia Tamera”. The song was accompanied with a colorful video with Doja Cat leading the charge lyrically. Doja seemed to be winning the public back with her artistry, but still, she remained humble.
In March 2019, Doja Cat would capture the Internet once again using colorful artistry and good music, her pink performance of her new song “Juicy” on A COLORS SHOW went viral. Men and women alike fell in love with the video’s aesthetics and playful nature of her lyrics. In March 2019, Doja Cat re-released Amala in deluxe fashion, with 3 added songs: Tia Tamera ft Rico Nasty, Mooo!, and the colorful Juicy.
Cancel culture might have subdued the latter part of 2018, but Doja Cat doesn’t seem to be the type of artist that you can “cancel permanently”. She is firmly supplanted in her artistry and will always have an empowering song in the tuck.
As a songwriter, Doja Cat is powerful.
On “Moo!” she jokingly structured a 2 verse song fantasizing about being a cow, complete with a chorus, pre-chorus, bridge, refrain, outro, AND HARMONIES GALORE.
On “Tia Tamera” and “Juicy”, she writes about the same topics – her ass and titties, yet flips the topic in two totally different ways, and over vastly different production. These are signs of a great songwriter – the ability to flip the same topic in different ways without becoming stale; Curren$y is able to do this with weed and lowriders, and Pusha T with cocaine. Doja is creative at speaking at length about her curves. And although her peers borrow the same topic, they aren’t nearly as engaging nor able refreshingly flip the same topic over-and-over. Doja is polishing herself as a songwriter.
The Amala re-release may be signs that the label isn’t yet willing to put out a new Doja project, but with the way the hype is looking follow Tia Tamera and Juicy they might have to pretty soon.