Rapper and singer-songwriter Doja Cat — real name Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini — broke through with a viral song simply titled “Mooo!” Her stage name is Doja Cat because, “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.”
We’re here to give you 18 things to know about Black Jewish rapper Doja Cat.
1. Amala was born in Tarzana, California in 1995 to a Jewish American mom, Deborah Elizabeth Sawyer, and a non-Jewish South African dad, Dumisani Dlamini.
2. “My mom was a painter and loves to sing behind closed doors. My father is a South African actor who danced in Broadway musicals for Lion King. I took a little bit of everything from both of them,” she explained.
3. Her mom raised her as a single mom; her dad wasn’t very present growing up. She lived in Rye, NY, and at an ashram in Sherman Oaks, CA.
4. Her dad now comments on her Instagram posts, to which she says, “I don’t hold grudges against him or anything in any way, but obviously it’s a little weird.”
5. “My mom was kinda a hip-hop head, really ironic because like — I’m Jewish, my grandma’s Jewish, she’s white, and she was never exposed to music like that until she started meeting people and was like, wow I really love this,” Doja Cat explained. “Once she had me, she would play a lot of Erykah Badu, a lot of Fugees, and Jamiroquai and Seal, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane, a lot of stuff like that…”
6. Oh, also, these are not her parents:
THESE AREN'T MY FUCKING PARENTS. CAN WE STOP MAKING PATHETIC AND HORRIFICALLY SHIT VIDEOS ABOUT ME AND PUTTING THESE SAME FUCKING PICTURES IN EVERY SINGLE ONE pic.twitter.com/HKn1Iflj5T
— Doja Cat (@DojaCat) February 9, 2020
@thetalko you guys are pathetic. you wont find a picture of my mom on the internet. that isn't my fuckin mother and learn how to pronounce my last name. your video you made about me sucks. pick a different shitty job. miserable fucking losers.
— Doja Cat (@DojaCat) February 9, 2020
7. At around age 11, she took up break dancing, and danced in a crew in Los Angeles. She also went to surf camp growing up.
8. She dropped out of high school in 11th grade and took up music. She started recording songs on GarageBand and posted them on SoundCloud. (Her soundcloud, amalaofficial, is still live.)
9. Her debut single, “So High,” was released on SoundCloud in 2013 and then re-released as a single once she signed to a label.
10. Inspired by a cow print tour outfit, she made the song “Mooo!” in less than a day. It went viral in August 2018, featuring lyrics like “Bitch, I’m a cow / I’m not a cat / I don’t say meow.”
11. Her debut album, Amala, came out in March 2018. On that album? A song called “Juicy,” which she later remixed with Tyga in August 2019:
“I like butts and I think about butts and I felt like making a butt song” is why she made “Juicy.” This is a very fun video:
12. Her second album, Hot Pink, came out in November 2019.
I’m VERY excited to announce the release of my sophomore album “HOT PINK” will be on NOVEMBER 7th 💕🥵THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone involved. My heart is fuckin pounding and I know a lot of these song titles aren’t ones you guys are already familiar with. #HOTPINK pic.twitter.com/Fcv80F77HG
— Doja Cat (@DojaCat) November 2, 2019
13. She was featured on the Birds of Prey soundtrack (a film that starred, among others, Black Jewish actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell). The video is very fun:
14. We haven’t even talked about her Instagram yet!! Her style is amazing:
15. In 2018, right after “Mooo!”, people found old tweets of hers that had homophobic slurs. Doja Cat initially doubled down (eek), then apologized, writing, “I’ve used horrible derogatory and hateful words towards people out of ignorance. I just want you guys to know that you’re incredibly special and I hold you dearly to my heart. I’m sorry for anyone I’ve offended or hurt deeply. You all are worth love and support.”
16. She loves cursing people on Twitter. (Seriously, she talked about it in an interview.)
Somebody told me to look excited today and it made me want to fill their home with roaches.
— Doja Cat (@DojaCat) October 16, 2019
Just wanted everyone to know that they can suck my fuckin balls.
— Doja Cat (@DojaCat) December 14, 2019
17. Her song “Say So” went viral on TikTok:
She just released a music video for the song:
18. “I never stopped thinking about what I can do next,” Doja said. “So, as much as I may seem like I’m kind of going throughout life blindly, I know what I want.”
Header Image: Doja Cat performs on December 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, California, photo by Timothy Norris/WireImage.