Living on ‘Planet Her’: Doja Cat’s Rise to Superstardom

Mack Mendenhall

Doja Cat is many things: a songwriter, a rapper, a producer, an electric performer, and a vocalist effortlessly sliding between pop, R&B, and dance genres. Her larger-than-life personality makes her an irresistible icon to her fans worldwide. Since the release of her studio album Planet Her in 2021, Doja’s success has skyrocketed the past couple years. “Kiss Me More,” her summery jam featuring SZA, dominated charts and award shows, even scoring the pair their first Grammys. She’s received other countless honors, such as American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and even a Guinness World Record. What’s the story behind such a vivacious, multi-talented artist?

Born Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini in 1995, Doja Cat grew up in Los Angeles, California in a family of artists. Her mother was a graphic designer, her father a Broadway performer, and her grandmother a painter and architect. She was influenced by Indian culture and Hinduism in her earlier years from living at a commune in Santa Monica. In high school, Doja joined a pop locking troupe and took voice and breakdancing lessons, competing in dance battles throughout Los Angeles.

While Doja Cat dropped out of high school junior year at age 16, she spent her time searching the Internet for beats and instrumentals. Using GarageBand, Doja started creating her own music and uploading it to SoundCloud. Her first hit, “So High,” eventually became the lead single for her debut EP, Purrr! released in 2014. She caught the attention of producer Dr. Luke who signed her to Kemosabe Records of RCA.

As Doja Cat released more material, her success and influence continued to grow. Her next two albums, Amala (2018) and Hot Pink (2019) further established her as one of the most unique, innovative female rappers in the game. Hot Pink especially highlighted Doja’s shift toward R&B, funk, hip-hop, and soul musical styles. Hits like the satirical “Mooo!” – paired with a music video in which Doja is dressed like a cow – and the Nicki Minaj collaboration “Say So” went viral on social media, specifically Tik Tok, and gave her a more widespread following.  She also featured on other artists’ songs, such as “Best Friend” by Saweetie and the “34+35” remix by Ariana Grande alongside Megan Thee Stallion.

Doja Cat’s most recent album, Planet Her, has continued to shoot her popularity into the stratosphere. Songs like “Woman”, “Need to Know”, and “You Right” featuring the Weeknd charted within the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100, but it was her duet with SZA that really cemented her as a relevant force in the pop industry. “Kiss Me More”, which interpolates Olivia Newton’s 1991 hit “Physical” became the summer jam of 2021 and was used in Tik Tok videos countless times. The catchy, 1980s funk-inspired track also became the longest-running all-female top 10 hit song in Billboard Hot 100 history. Doja’s memorable chorus and cheeky rap paired with SZA’s distinct flair earned the women their first Grammy Awards for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Though she has achieved so much in her short career, Doja has at times expressed her dissatisfaction and her desire to retire from making music. But recent successes will hopefully keep her inspired and creating for her fans. Her eccentric personality, snappy rhymes, and creative beats characterize her artistry and make her a unique presence in the music industry as a rapper, singer, dancer, and producer. She is the epitome of a female artist who embraces all aspects of her career.

Step into Doja Cat’s world on her latest album, Planet Her.