Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, known professionally as Doja Cat, is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she began making and releasing music on SoundCloud as a teenager. Her song “So High” caught the attention of Kemosabe and RCA Records, with which she signed a joint record deal at the age of 17, subsequently releasing her debut EP Purrr! in 2014. After a hiatus from music, Doja Cat released her debut studio album, Amala (2018), and later earned viral success as an internet meme with the single “Mooo!”, which appeared on the deluxe version of her debut album along with singles “Juicy” and “Tia Tamera” (featuring Rico Nasty) in 2019.
Doja Cat’s second studio album, Hot Pink (2019), reached the top 10 of the US Billboard 200 and spawned the single “Say So”, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart following the release of a remix featuring Nicki Minaj. In 2020, Doja Cat collaborated with Ariana Grande on their song “Motive“, and later featured on the remix of Grande‘s “34+35” alongside Megan Thee Stallion, which became her second song to reach the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. Her third song to reach this feat, “Kiss Me More” (featuring SZA), served as the lead single from her third studio album, Planet Her (2021), which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200.
Doja Cat is known for creating music videos and songs that achieve popularity on social media applications such as TikTok and YouTube. She has been nominated for three Grammy Awards and six Billboard Music Awards and has won two American Music Awards in addition to the MTV Video Music Award for Push Best New Artist and its European counterpart. Forbes named Doja Cat “one of the top breakout stars of 2020” and listed her on their annual 30 under 30 lists.
Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini was born on October 21, 1995, into an artistic family in the Tarzana neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California. Her mother, Deborah Elizabeth Sawyer, is a Jewish-American painter. Her father, Dumisani Dlamini, is a South African actor, composer, and film producer of Zulu descent best known for starring in the 1992 musical film Sarafina!. According to Doja Cat, she never met her father growing up. Her father has denied this claim, stating that he has a “healthy” relationship with his daughter.
Soon after her birth, Dlamini and her mother moved to New York City, where they lived for five years. Her family later moved back to California in Oak Park, where her mother enrolled her in ballet, tap and jazz lessons from the age of five. Her aunt, a singer, gave Dlamini singing lessons to help her get into a performing arts school. Her family then moved near the Sherman Oaks neighbourhood of Los Angeles when she was 11 years old, where they lived in an ashram in the mountains of Agoura Hills and practised Hinduism for four years. It was here that Dlamini wore head-covering scarves and sang bhajans at the temple, and American jazz musician Alice Coltrane (under the Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda) was the swami. She claims that she lacked interest in school from then on, instead of taking a liking for dance. While at the ashram she had been dancing the style of Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam. As she grew older and moved away from the ashram, she moved onto breakdancing classes and joined a professional pop-locking troupe with whom she competed in dance battles throughout Los Angeles while still attending high school. She also frequently skipped school to participate in online chatrooms. She eventually dropped out of high school at age 16 while in her junior year.
Doja Cat has stated that she “like[s] both [men and women]. I like dicks and I also like, um, I like people that I can have sex with. You can kind of have sex with anybody, right?” In August 2019, she began dating indie-pop musician Jawny, although the pair split up in February 2020.
In June 2020, Doja Cat donated $100,000 to the Justice For Breonna Taylor Fund, in support of Taylor’s family.
In early 2021, Doja Cat bought a home in Beverly Hills, California, for $2.2 million.