Doja Cat is known and loved by fans for her catchy music, hilarious memes, and unique sense of style. But her rise to fame hasn’t been without her fair share of controversy and #DojaCatIsOverParty trending hashtags. Born Amala Zandile Dlamini, Doja was raised in the Los Angeles area. Her parents are Dumisani Dlamini, a South African actor and producer, and Deborah Elizabeth Sawyer, a Jewish-American painter. Oh, and in case anyone is wondering where the stage name Doja Cat came from, she told Dazed it’s a combination of two of her loves, “weed culture” and cats — the perfect storm of all things internet.
So, it’s no surprise that Doja Cat came up through Soundcloud before breaking out with the viral hit “Mooo!” in 2018, which she wrote and shot the video for in just 12.5 hours, according to Genius. The best part? Doja released the track on a lark that ended up kickstarting her overall goal of creating what she calls “meme music.” That strategy kept working, particularly with her smash hit “Say So,” which sparked a viral dance craze on TikTok. In fact, as of October 2020, over 18.7 million TikTok users have created a video with Doja’s song.
But despite all of her success over the past few years, like many other viral stars, she’s also faced quite a bit of controversy and criticism. Let’s take a look back at some of Doja’s biggest scandals on her rise to stardom.
Doja Cat use of homophobic slurs hasn't aged well
After “Mooo!” shot Doja Cat to fame in 2018, it wasn’t long before she had to deal with her first major controversy when her old, homophobic tweets resurfaced. Doja’s 2015 tweets showed her using gay slurs to describe artists like Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. But it wasn’t just the tweets that caused controversy, it was Doja’s initial response to her resurfaced remarks. At first, Doja Cat doubled down on her use of the slur in another tweet saying, “I’ve said f****t roughly like 15 thousand times in my life. Does saying f****t mean you hate gay people? Do I hate gay people? I don’t think I hate gay people. Gay is okay.”
This response sparked even more backlash, but by August 2018, Doja apologized in yet another tweet. She wrote, “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.” Doja Cat has since deleted all of the resurfaced tweets and her initial response.
An attempt to reclaim a racist term backfired on Doja Cat
Doja Cat, who is biracial, has been accused by fans of using racial slurs and creating racially insensitive music. In May 2020, Doja’s 2015 song “Dindu Nuffin” caused controversy because the title refers to a racial slur used to mock victims of police brutality. Shortly after fans discovered the song, #DojaCatIsOverParty started trending on Twitter, with demands mounting that she answer for the controversial choice. “I didn’t know ANYTHING about the existence of the song or the phrase “dindu nuffin”, or its origins,” one baffled fan tweeted, adding, “@DojaCat you need to face this, I’m sorry. I get how hard growing up mixed is, I think you had it rougher than I did, but this is beyond.”
Doja responded to the backlash in an Instagram Live video, apologizing “to anybody who I’ve hurt using this term.” She also agreed with fans that the song was extremely offensive. In a follow up statement, Doja took responsibility for writing and recording the controversial track, but according to Vulture, she said, “It was in no way tied to anything outside of my own personal experience. It was written in response to people who often used that term to hurt me. I made an attempt to flip its meaning, but recognize that it was a bad decision to use the term in my music.”
The song has since been removed from Doja Cat’s official YouTube page and streaming platforms.
Why was Doja Cat hanging out in sketchy chatrooms?
Doja Cat hasn’t only been accused of racism in her music, she has also been accused on Twitter of being an “active member in racist chat rooms.” In May 2020, fans discovered photos and videos of Doja’s involvement in what were described as “alt right chat rooms,” and shared them on social media. It should be noted, however, that other fans came to Doja’s defense, including one who claimed she was in one of those rooms with her, and it was “not an alt right site.” Speaking with PAPER in 2019, Doja vaguely mentioned her obsession with chatting online, saying “she’d skip school for days at a time, holed up in her bedroom and hanging in the chatroom.”
But by May 2020, with criticism still mounting, Doja released a statement explaining her chat room use. She took to her Instagram Stories and denied taking part in racist conversations. In her post, Doja Cat wrote, “I’ve used public chat rooms to socialize since I was a child. I shouldn’t have been on some of those chat room sites, but I personally have never been involved in any racist conversations. I’m sorry to everyone I offended.” She went on and added that she was proud of her background saying, “I’m a black woman. Half of my family is black from South Africa and I’m very proud of where I come from.”
Doja Cat DGAF what haters think about her body
Plastic surgery rumors are an unfortunate cross to bear for nearly every celebrity, and Doja Cat is no different. Over the years people have baselessly tweeted things like, “I think Doja Cat had a boob job, nose job, and def some botox.”
But in a 2018 interview with Vlad TV interview, Doja definitively denied having ever gotten any work done. She explained that she has even been shamed for her natural body before, but regardless, she still doesn’t have any plans to have plastic surgery. Doja opened up about being body shamed on Instagram, revealing, “I got a lot of bad attention for a couple photos I posted on Instagram. They’re still up. It’s just me wearing a little chain bra … and I just got a lot of [people saying] ‘saggy, saggy, saggy, saggy.’ It hurt my feelings of course, but really I don’t give a f**k.” Doja did confess, however, “There’s little things I would like to do, for sure. I thought about getting eyelash extensions, at one point. … Little things. I wouldn’t get my lips done, I wouldn’t get my nose done.”
So nothing to see here, looks like Doja is au naturale.
What's the deal with Doja Cat's dad?
Doja Cat’s father, Dumisani Dlamini, is a South African actor who is best known for his role alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the movie Sarafina! In April 2020, a video of Doja meeting Whoopi backstage went viral because Doja revealed that she had never met her dad. Doja said, “I didn’t get to meet him but you did.” Fans were quick to flood Twitter with their responses to Doja’s comment about her estranged father. People wrote things like “Dumisani needs to do right by her daughter” and “Dumisani needs to go see his daughter… she wants to meet him.”
Doja Cat’s dad actually responded to her remarks about their relationship in an interview with Metro FM, claiming that Doja is exaggerating about never having met him. He insisted that he tried to look for her but her team has blocked him from contacting her. Dlamini also alleges that he and Doja did speak before she became famous, and that Doja’s comments to Goldberg were made up. Despite Dlamini’s response, Doja Cat hasn’t spoken out much about her father again since the viral moment with Whoopi.
Doja Cat's collabs with Dr. Luke made waves
Mega-producer Dr. Luke, who’s real name is Lukasz Gottwald, became persona non grata after his highly publicized 2014 fallout with former protégé Kesha. According to Rolling Stone, in October 2014, Kesha initiated a series of lawsuits against Dr. Luke, alleging sexual assault and physical and emotional abuse. Kesha also sought to terminate her contracts with Dr. Luke and his label. Dr. Luke denied Kesha’s claims and countersued her, her mother, and her new management team, claiming Kesha’s claims were lies designed to force him into releasing her from her contract. By August 2016, Kesha’s lawsuits had all been dropped or dismissed (pending appeals), and all that remains, as of this writing, is the battle over Dr. Luke’s defamation case against her.
The years-long drama seemingly caused many artists to stand in solidarity with Kesha, and in turn refuse to work with Dr. Luke. But not Doja Cat. Doja signed to Dr. Luke’s label when she was only 17 years old, and he has produced many of her hits, including “Juicy,” “Say So,” and “Rules.” In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported “Say So” was actually Dr. Luke’s “first No. 1 hit since Kesha’s allegations.”
Many fans have taken issue with Doja working with Dr. Luke. “Can you stop working with Dr. Luke so I can stan you,” one tweeted, while another warned, “You may not care about him getting famous again but I care because many women suffered because of him.”
Was Doja Cat on drugs during a viral livestream?
In February 2020, Doja Cat was accused of doing cocaine during an Instagram Live where fans thought she appeared to be slurring her words and wiping her nose. Of course, Twitter caught much of the discourse, with one detractor writing, “Doja Cat acting like we couldn’t hear the cocaine being cut up in the back lmao.”
But after the Instagram Live, Doja Cat denied the allegations that she was on drugs, and had previously told the Los Angeles Times that she doesn’t even smoke weed anymore. She took to Twitter and explained the real reason why she was wiping her nose. Doja said, “Lol people think I do drugs. I think I was scared I had boogers but if you guys want to be worried about me doing cocaine that’s fine at least you care. That’s nice of y’all.”
Even after her response some fans weren’t buying it: “Doja Cat with the worst cocaine cover up in the history of forever.” Doja went on and explained that she had to “be put on an IV for alcohol poisoning” shortly after her livestream and that’s why she looked and acted the way she did.
If 'Say So' sounded familiar to you, you're not alone
Doja Cat sparked major controversy when another artist accused her of “ripp[ing] off” his song. In February 2020, musician Skylar Spence, AKA Saint Pepsi, called out Doja Cat and Dr. Luke for expertly biting his 2014 track “Fiona Coyne” when creating “Say So.” Some fans online went even further, claiming that “Doja’s Say So is the same song as Fiona Coyne.”
The controversy really kicked into high gear on February 26th, when Skylar started chiming in, initially tweeting, “I love that #DojaCatSaySo is trending… my friends and supporters may be able to get over this and that’s fine but this sh*t f*cks me to the core.” He went on and explained, “Dr Luke ripped off my biggest song for Doja Cat’s biggest song and did it to the exact point where it would hold up in court.”
According to PopBuzz, Doja Cat and Dr. Luke did not respond to these allegations. In fact, in May 2020, they went on and created the “Say So” remix with Nicki Minaj which became Doja’s first #1 hit.
Doja Cat tested positive for COVID-19 after downplaying it
In March 2020, Doja Cat faced backlash for calling people scared of COVID “p**sies” and for referring to the deadly virus as “a flu.” During an Instagram Live, Doja said “B***h, I’m not scared of a coronavirus […] I’m gonna get corona and then I’m gonna get a Corona, cuz I don’t give a f**k about corona, b***h. It’s a flu. … You just take some Mucinex and drink water and tea and sleep. That’s all you gotta do.” People were quick to criticize Doja for these comments, as thousands of people worldwide were already dying by the day, at the time, at the hands of the virus.
A few months after Doja Cat’s controversial coronavirus comments, she revealed to Capital Xtra that she had in fact contracted COVID-19. In July 2020, Doja told the outlet, “I got COVID. Honestly, I don’t know how this happens, but I guess I ordered something off of Postmates and… I don’t know how I got it but I got it. I’m okay now. It was a four-day symptom freakout, but I’m fine now.” Seems like Doja Cat had to learn the hard way about this one. She seems to have completely recovered from the virus and was able to deliver incredible performances at both the Billboard Music Awards and VMAs since her diagnosis. Doja also took home the award for PUSH Best New Artist at the 2020 VMAs.
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