In our January cover story, the explosively talented, hugely entertaining, always controversial rapper-singer Doja Cat opened up about her new album, Planet Her, balancing a personal life with the demands of superstardom, and what she thinks about people fighting over her rap bona fides (“They don’t know what they’re talking about”). She also touched on more serious issues that have come up throughout her career, including her shitposting tendencies and her longstanding professional relationship with Dr. Luke. Here’s a roundup of the biggest takeaways, plus bonus content that didn’t make it into the final piece.
She’s not a huge fan of her stage name. Doja’s stage name derives from both her love of felines (she has two, Alex and Ray) and a marijuana strain (she has since quit smoking weed). But she says she doesn’t love her name, and has in fact tried to change it a few times over the years. An old manager convinced her not to. “My image was the pothead hippie girl, and I’m not that,” she says. “[SNL] made a joke the other day that Doja Cat sounds like a Pokémon. And, you know, it didn’t hurt my feelings, but it definitely hurt my feelings.”
She’s a great cook. Doja loves experimenting in the kitchen with various recipes, which she attributes to an “insanely French” ex-boyfriend. To celebrate her recent AMA nominations, she made steak and asparagus with caramelized pancetta, and has made Wagyu sandwiches with Gruyere truffle cheese and fondue for dinner-party guests. “I know how to make a fucking fantastic sandwich,” she says.
She made her Sims drug kingpins. Anyone who watches Doja on Instagram Live knows that she likes to game, and though she says she no longer plays Sims 4 — she says she “fucked that game up so badly, like exponentially” by downloading too many mods — there was a point when she downloaded a drug mod to make her Sims drug kingpins. “They had massive bags this big, just displayed around the house, like displayed on shelves and shit,” she says. “I made a trap house one time, which was really cute. There were Solo cups all over the place and, like, an Xbox and giant piles of money everywhere. And there was a basement with a grow room and shit, and red LED lights. I was so proud of it.”
Growing up, she had a former reality-show star as her babysitter. As a child growing up in California, Doja was babysat by a young Alexis Haines, née Neiers, the former star of E!’s Pretty Wild who later served a month in jail for her role in the Bling Ring celebrity burglaries. Haines, who now hosts the podcast Recovering from Reality, has fond memories of a young Doja, recalling a “brilliant, very talented” and “wild” kid who used to rap on MySpace and sneak into gated pools (Doja was obsessed with Halle Berry in Catwoman when she was younger, and used to pride herself on being able to fit through the bars). “She was a good kid, a sweet kid,” Haines now recalls.
She’s not a fan of her first hit, “So High.” The 2014 SoundCloud track, which compares a love interest to being high on drugs, landed her a record deal, but today Doja says she cringes when she hears it. “It’s some of the laziest lyrics I’ve ever written,” she says. “I don’t love the vocals. However, the production, the beat, is some of the most beautiful production in music I’ve ever heard. I think that’s what kind of drew me to it to make something, put my voice on top of it, which I don’t think did it any justice.” The accompanying music video was inspired by her time growing up on an ashram, but she received criticism from those accusing her of appropriating Hindu culture. “If I knew not to do that, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” she says. “When something is so sacred to many people, I think it’s good to be more sensitive about it and just kind of back away.”
She says she doesn’t think she needs to work with Dr. Luke again. “So High” led to Doja signing a record deal with Dr. Luke, who would later be accused by Kesha of drugging and raping her, leading many artists to speak out against him and refuse to work with him. (Dr. Luke has denied Kesha’s allegations and sued her for defamation. Kesha dropped her lawsuit in 2016; Dr. Luke’s lawsuit is ongoing.) With the release of Doja’s hit “Say So,” on which Dr. Luke is credited, Doja received criticism from some of her fans for working with him, which she has often refused to address. “I don’t think I need to work with him again. I don’t think I need to work with him in the future. I know that,” she says. “I think it was definitely nice of me to work with him.”
Doja also hinted that she believes Dr. Luke is unfairly credited for some of her songs. “There’s shit that he’s credited for, where I’m like, ‘Hmm, I don’t know, I don’t know if you did anything on that,'” she says, though she declined to specify which ones. A few weeks later, she sent a follow-up statement denying that Dr. Luke had been unfairly credited on any of her songs, saying her previous comments had been borne out of “sensitivities in the past about certain people attributing my general success to the work of others — in particular, men.” “The credits on my music are accurate, and I don’t want to imply anything else,” she said. (“As it is his daily work, his practice, as is the industry’s, is to receive publishing when he creates songs,” a representative for Dr. Luke told Rolling Stone in a statement.)
The pandemic ruined “Say So” for Doja. Doja says it was difficult to enjoy the success of her first Number One hit, as she had just had to cancel her tour due to the pandemic and could not perform it live. “It just became a very sad and repetitive and underwhelming thing for me,” she says of performing ‘Say So’ on Zoom during the pandemic. “[There] was a point where I was like, ‘God, I can’t wait to perform this’; then all of a sudden I am performing one of my favorite songs off the album, but I’m not even able to do it for my fans in real life. So now there’s this negative connotation behind it, like, ‘Well, fuck, I can’t even live the dream that I had for “Say So,” really.’ . . . So that kind of fucked me up a little bit.”
She regrets having joked about Covid. Very early on in the pandemic, Doja went viral for joking on Instagram Live, “Bitch, I’m not scared of a coronavirus or the motherfucking beer version of that shit. I’m gonna get corona and then I’m gonna get a Corona, ’cause I don’t give a fuck about corona, bitch. It’s a flu!” She says she regrets her comments, having seen how “devastating” the pandemic has been to so many people. “That was just a way to lighten the mood,” she says. “It wasn’t something to make light of, and I guess I didn’t see the immensity of it and how dangerous it’s been and devastating. I think it was me just being like a dumb fucking idiot on Live.”
She attributes an acid trip to helping her quit cigarettes. Despite her stage name, Doja no longer does drugs — one of the standout tracks on her new album, in fact, is called “I Don’t Do Drugs” — but she credits doing acid with helping her quit caffeine and cigarettes. “Acid was a wonderful experience for me, but I felt I didn’t need it after a while,” she says. “My last trip was a bad trip, but it made me quit a lot of my habits. I’m a very habitual person. I was smoking lots of cigarettes. But I quit smoking because of the acid I took. I haven’t been able to smoke a cigarette since then. It’s unbearable to smoke one. It’s very interesting how that worked.”
Her favorite skin-care brand is Tatcha. Doja has a seven-step skin-care routine and exclusively uses the brand Tatcha, swearing by its camellia cleansing oil and Essence boosting treatment. “I did this thing for Vogue, and Vogue wanted to know my skin-care routine — it was more of a makeup-tutorial thing, but they want to know my skin-care routine,” she says. “I tried to be honest about it. They’re like, ‘No, you can’t show everything that you use because you only use one brand.’ I’m like, ‘Well, then what the fuck’s the point of that, you know?‘ “
The world could have had a Billie Eilish–Doja Cat collab. Early on in their SoundCloud days, Doja and Eilish were fans of each other’s work, with Eilish asking Doja to do a verse on what would become “Bellyache.” “I remember thinking it was so cute. I loved it. I just couldn’t think of anything to write,” Doja says. “It was one of my writer’s-block moments. … And I remember seeing that song blow up and thinking, ‘Good for her. That’s awesome.’ I don’t think the song was for me, though. It was quite hard to write to.”
No one had any idea that “Mooo!” would blow up like that. When Doja started writing “Mooo!” on Instagram Live over a beat by producer and artist Troy Noka, nobody, least of all her, had any idea the quirky novelty song about being a cow would go massively viral. But it turned out to be a major turning point for her at her label and in her career, even though it started out as pretty much just a joke. “The fact that people love it is kind of all that matters to me,” she says. “If I was making really shitty music and I was annoying, and people thought I was annoying and they wanted me to shut up, but I kept getting fucking pushed all over the radio all the time, I’d be pissed. I’d be so upset. But I have some fans that really like me, and that’s great.”
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