Matriarchs of Music | Doja Cat


Noah Bosch, Writer/Volunteer

To the average listener in 2018, “MOOOO!” was, if nothing else, comically zany. Nothing about the cow-themed getup, farm animal-inspired lyrics, or general ridiculousness of the now iconic music video screamed up-and-coming pop star. Perhaps because of this outlandish art created by Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, we have the TikTok superstar version of Doja Cat today.

Doja Cat’s rise to stardom is not the typical rags to riches story we are getting so used to hearing about these days. Dlamini had been making music since her early teen years, singing and producing her own music to put on SoundCloud. After attracting the gaze of both Kemosabe and RCA records, Dlamini released her debut ep Purrr! at just 17 years old. While the reviews for this ep were not devastatingly negative, Purrr! simply didn’t garner much attention or noteworthy praise, aside from the hit single off the album, “So High,” which drew in millions of streams with its psychedelic R&B style.



Fans of the artist would have to wait nearly half a decade for her next major release under her joint venture deal with RCA and Kemosabe records. Doja Cat’s debut album, Amala, released on Thursday March 30, 2018. Because of its Thursday release date, which was most likely done to purposefully protect the album from having to compete with other major artist release dates happening that Friday, Amala’s tracking was short lived. However, the album still ended up on the Billboard Top 200. Though it was successful, Doja Cat still found herself struggling to form a wide audience of fans through her traditional R&B/hip-hop style—a drastic change of tone was needed.

It was perhaps this struggle that spurred the idea of “MOOOO!” for Doja Cat. The release of this goofy single onto YouTube in 2018 was about as much of a hail mary as things can get. Though she enjoyed a decent amount of success from her debut album, it wasn’t the numbers that anyone could consider superstar status. Thankfully, this absurdist and playful single organically drew massive crowds into Doja Cat’s fan base. The coal had been added to the fire, but in order for the flame to keep rising, Doja knew the momentum must be capitalized on.



Also included in the deluxe edition of Amala alongside “MOOOO!” was the hard-hitting trap single “Tia Tamera,” featuring gritty rap artist and good friend of Doja cat, Rico Nasty. Rounding out this stellar trifecta was the high energy anthem “Juicy,” which along with the other singles mentioned, proved to be a huge success for Doja Cat.

Having finally hit the ground running with the deluxe version of her debut album, Doja Cat was finally getting the traction she had been working towards for nearly 5 years. With this new found fan base and increased studio pressure, she quickly released her next single “Cyber Sex” on Nov. 7, 2019, which would end up being the first cut off of her sophomore album, Hot Pink.  While this album presented Doja Cat at her absolute best with singles like the aggressive, rap-focused “Rules” or bubbly and braggadocios “Bottom Bitch,” it’s true smash hit would be found in the silky smooth glamour of “Say So.”



With over 14.9 million videos having used the sound since its inception, the song’s astronomical success can be traced to its explosion on the video sharing platform TikTok. In early 2019, it was nearly impossible to scroll through the app without hearing that inescapable phrase— “Didn’t even notice the punches that you roll with, you gotta keep me focused, you want it, say so.”  The catchy sound byte from the song in combination with an easy and fun viral dance created by Haley Sharpe, rocketed “Say So” to the top of billboard top 100 and enjoyed a lengthy stay. This feat is made even more impressive by the fact that Doja cat simultaneously became the first woman from the record label RCA to get to the top of Billboard since 2014. However, Doja Cat’s dominance of TikTok didn’t stop there, as both “Streets” and “Juicy” were made into viral sounds, with the songs getting used in over 1.2 million and 600,000 videos, respectively.


In the past years, Doja Cat and TikTok have fed off each other to generate success unlike any other artist we have seen before. Her ability to create addictive music is a major factor in her success on TikTok, as replayability directly correlates with virality in most cases. Though some may see TikTok success as a less than respectable judgement of true artistic prowess, Doja Cat’s current domination of the music industry as well as the viral video sector should not be undermined. Despite not winning any Grammys (having been nominated for best new artist, record of the year, and best solo pop performance), Doja Cat is still the face of the pop scene at the moment, with new remixes of her viral songs keeping their grip on streams and views tight.

Dlamini’s career is a story of perseverance and innovation. She’s a risk taker who reaps the rewards of her gambles, unafraid to take on the next challenge ahead of her. With the ascendancy of TikTik showing no signs of depleting or slowing down, it is only logical to assume that Doja Cat’s time at the top is far from over, and for over 42 million people, that seems to be an exciting thought.