Doja Cat Performing
@dojacat (Image via Instagram)

How Doja Cat Went From Viral Internet Meme to Viral Pop Goddess

Back in 2018, the singer-rapper asked you, 'Got milk, b--ch? Got beef?' Now, the ‘70s disco queen wants to know, 'Why don’t you say so?'

She’s “too smooth,” she’s “not in the mood,” she’s “tryna make moves” — and making moves is exactly what Doja Cat has been up to ever since she dropped her viral hit from summer of 2018, “Mooo!

It’s 2020 now, and you might have noticed that Doja Cat has gone viral yet again with “Say So,” her first single to reach the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” even featured Doja Cat as a guest artist back in February. She and her backup singers’ dazzling performance of the nostalgia-inducing bop stole the show. And the new music video for “Say So” is just as dreamy as the track itself: Doja Cat transforms into a blonde, ‘70s disco queen. She serves look after glittery look, all while bopping and twirling through mesmerizing choreography. But the grooviest part of the new single’s audiovisual? She pays homage to the TikTok dance that made “Say So” go viral in the first place. During the video’s roller-skating rink scene, Doja Cat even features a cameo from Haley Sharpe, the TikToker that created the dance.

“Say So” blew up when Sharpe, a 16-year-old from Huntsville, Alabama with over 1 million TikTok followers, posted a clip of herself dancing moves she created to Doja Cat’s track. Sharpe uploaded the first TikTok with the dance back in 2019. Since then, hundreds of users have recreated the original choreography, including “the most popular teen on the internet,” Charli D’Amelio.

As the song gains more listens and YouTube views, Doja Cat’s current success can be credited to the catchy cow tune and green-screen video that jumpstarted her career. But her discography started making waves well before the popularity of her iconic contribution to the internet’s growing collection of meme music. The Los Angeles-based musician does it all, from chill R&B to happy-go-lucky pop to silver-tongued rap verses.

Her music career began when she started releasing songs on SoundCloud back in 2013. All those years ago, Doja Cat conjured her stage name by combining her two loves at the time: doja — slang for marijuana —and felines. But before she became Doja Cat, Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini was born to two artists. Her father is a South African actor and has danced in Broadway musicals. Her Jewish American mother was a painter and, according to Doja Cat, “loves to sing behind closed doors.” She attributes her artistic parents to influencing her current career: “I took a little bit of everything from both of them.”

At 16 years old, Doja Cat dropped her first single, “So High.” Not even a full year later, Doja Cat got signed to RCA Records in 2014. Since then, the singer has been dropping hit after hit.

Doja Cat’s latest single “Boss B*tch” dropped January of this year. The track perfectly placed her on a list right alongside other powerful femme musicians, like Megan Thee Stallion and Halsey, on the album for the new film “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.” Since her first EP “Purrr!” released in 2014, Doja Cat has dropped a number of singles and two full length LPs: “Amala” along with its deluxe version, and her most recent LP, “Hot Pink,” featuring music video-accompanied singles “Rules” and “Bottom Bitch.”

It’s obvious, though, from all her musical collaborations just how well Doja Cat plays with others, too. Gucci Mane, Tyga and Cousin Stizz are just a few of the artists she’s worked alongside. Along with some of her solo bops like “Roll With Us” and “Go To Town,” it’s likely that Tyga’s luring verse on “Juicy” played a part in pushing “Amala” to No. 138 on Billboard’s 200 Chart for top albums back in November of 2019. Like in most of her audiovisuals, Doja Cat shows off her curves in the fruit-themed music video for “Juicy.” Her verse on “Make That Cake” by LunchMoney Lewis has also proved a definite fan favorite. In the music video’s two minutes and a 53 seconds, it’s no surprise that Doja Cat appears in four different outfits — a bridezilla, a housewife, a hot pink body suit and a billionaire. Maintaining her eccentric style in music videos is a rule she follows religiously.

Doja Cat’s songs infuse her silky-smooth pop singing and a fresh take on rap with her clever, ever-moving bars. Similar to “Say So,” most of Doja Cat’s popular, genre-bending tracks are accompanied with enthralling music videos. Her videos never fail to prove as complementary counterparts to her songs. Throughout her collection of bizarre yet stunning visuals, the singer-rapper has donned a rather impressive number of personas. Doja Cat transforms into someone else entirely for every video — and she always faces the task gracefully with her one-of-a-kind style.

After “So High” dropped, Vibe.com christened Doja Cat as a “psychedelic prodigy.” “Psychedelic” is the perfect word to describe the audiovisual — it features brightly hued moving mandalas and Doja Cat dressed as a Hindu goddess. Although her next video didn’t drop until four years later, the celebrity posing as a fierce dominatrix in 2018’s “Go To Town” certainly did not disappoint.

Thankfully, the music video hiatus has thus been broken, and Doja Cat continues to deliver. Her audiovisual for the 2019 single “Tia Tamera” features rapper and songwriter Rico Nasty. The powerhouse femme-rapper duo spit bars in a neon-colored music video, showing off just as colorful matching outfits. It’s apparent how much fans love Rico Nasty and Doja Cat’s joint masterpiece with the video holding over 38 million views.

Of all of Doja Cat’s music videos, the only one that surpasses “Tia Tamera” in views is her viral hit “Mooo!” She explained her creative process behind the track in a “Verified” interview with Genius, practically shrugging as she said, “I made the song and the video in one day.” The music video now boasts over 66 million views on YouTube. From the sensation the track stirred when it first released, it’s safe to say her bovine-based bop video caused Doja Cat’s career to blow up to the current status that Billboard bestowed upon her as the “‘70s goddess” aspiring popstar.

Lucky for fans new and old, Doja Cat is currently on tour. She’s going all around North America from now until May 15, hitting big cities like Chicago, Toronto and Nashville. Doja Cat is even playing in this year’s Coachella lineup.

Victoria Acosta, Southern Adventist University

Writer Profile

Victoria Acosta

Southern Adventist University
English, Professional Writing and International Studies with a Spanish emphasis. Minor in music

I’m originally from Philadelphia, PA, and receiving my education in writing, one of my many passions. I spend my time singing solo or in choir, practicing yoga, studying astrology and spending quality time with friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Don't Miss