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Doja Cat's got my tongue

I love Doja Cat. A lot. I find myself not wanting to listen to anything else at any given time. 

Whether it be walking home from class or crafting the playlist for my shower concerts, she is the only thing I gravitate toward. I’m obsessed, and I love when you can feel yourself growing obsessed with a new artist. You listen to every song on every album. You watch any interview or performance you can possibly find on YouTube. It’s a great feeling.

Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini, aka Doja Cat, has made more than a name for herself just within the past two years. Thanks to video-sharing app TikTok, not only have her songs swarmed the charts, they have also gone insanely viral. Users of the app have perfected a choreographed dance for each of her hits, without the intention of even Doja herself.

Outside of the TikTok influence, her sound and aesthetic is refreshing. She can spit double-entendre-littered raps like Nicki Minaj with a flow like Chance the Rapper and give us constant, ever-changing all-encompassing looks and wigs like Katy Perry.

She does all of this while simultaneously injecting her quirky personality into it, her own “Chemical X” ingredient to the Powerpuff girl formula. 

Her first of many interactions with fame came with her 2018 novelty song “Mooo!” in which she hilariously fantasizes about being a cow while also spitting bars and delivering beautiful harmonies.

However, she soon dipped into hot water after tweets resurfaced from 2015 in which Doja used homophobic slurs against rappers Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. 

“I called a couple of people f——ts when I was in high school in 2015 does this mean I don’t deserve support?” she wrote on Twitter in defense of her tweets. “I’ve said f——t roughly 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 ok.”

After mass hysteria and “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing lampooning her actions, she then issued an official apology.

The murky waters don’t stop there. Doja Cat is signed to controversial producer Lukasz Gottwald (Dr. Luke)’s record label, Kemosabe Records. Dr. Luke is infamously known as the subject of multiple lawsuits from singer Kesha who has tried several times to leave her contract with Kemosabe, citing sexual, verbal, physical and emotional abuse. 

In the era of the #MeToo movement, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and also makes me extremely nervous that a blossoming female artist like Doja Cat would sign to someone as controversial as Dr. Luke. 

Sadly, Kesha’s career has yet to return to the heights of where it once was and I would hate for the cycle to be perpetuated again in Doja’s career. But no one forced her to sign on the dotted line, and I find it hard to believe that she hasn’t heard about the case against him. Once again, it leaves me in a confused place as a consumer.

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Should cancel culture permit people to change their minds about an artist?

I am a gay man who finds great offense to her open use of a gay slur, but I am irresistibly attracted to her music. 

In particular, I’m obsessed with her latest album, “Hot Pink.” It has gotten to the point where whenever I pop in my AirPods, my phone immediately starts playing “Cyber Sex,”  the first track off the album.

She’s developing a signature sound as a rapper who can delve into pop and R&B while also gluing her lyrics and melodies into your mind. I also love the concepts she has been coming up with for her music videos, from showing her nerdy sci-fi side in “Cyber Sex” to being a cat-like crime boss in “Rules.”

Despite the controversy, Doja Cat seems to persevere with songs like “Say So,” one of her biggest hits to date. She was also recently featured on the official “Birds of Prey” soundtrack with “Boss B****.”  

She’s also shown signs of guilt and acknowledgement of her past mistakes.

She opened up about the tweets in a September 2019 interview with The Fader saying, “I said some insensitive stuff a long time ago when I was young and at the time didn’t understand how it would hurt people.”

“It’s something [I] learned a lot from and I understand that it was not well written or thought through and I apologized [and still apologize] if it offended anyone. Truth is, I love everyone that is a good person regardless of what they look like, walk like or who they love.”

So I am still left in an uncomfortable position. 

On one hand, I wholeheartedly believe that Doja Cat is exactly what we need in pop culture right now. With her carefree attitude she demonstrates frequently on her candid Instagram Lives, she sets herself up to be viral by just opening her mouth. She isn’t held back by genre and I think she has what it takes to be the next crossover superstar who produces and writes mostly everything herself.

However, if she is going to be the queen of TikTok, she also has to be the queen of accountability. I think she’s proven that she has grown, but I cannot make that decision for everyone. All I know is that I am willing to give her another chance, and I think the world might benefit from giving her one, too. 

kwiatkdm@miamioh.edu

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