Dumb things go viral. Sex sells. Combine those two things together and you’ve got Doja Cat’s “Mooo!” The song and video were intended to be meme worthy and succeeded wildly. There’s no way you can take any part of the song seriously. “B#^ch I’m a cow, b#^ch I’m a cow/I’m not a cat, I don’t say meow”. The song veers wildly from rhymes that would be embarrassed by “Hickory Dickory Dock” to raps about sucking d#%k, all while Doja shakes her booty and her titties in the accompanying video. When she gets tired of doing it herself an anime girl’s jiggling boobs do it for her.
The opening paragraph might appear to be dismissing Amala Dlamini as an artist, but the truth is that I respect just how calculated and orchestrated her rise to fame was. The video comes at a nexus of calamity in American life at every level — politics, religion, society, culture — and our forms of entertainment reflect it. Everyone knows how f#%#ed up everything is, so if you can distract people for a few minutes with something as catchy as it is absurd, well hop on that “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” bandwagon and ride it to the top. Doja knows what got her here and “Amala” is more of the same. The opening track and second single “Go to Town” is a slick Yeti Beats and tizhimself production that’s almost secondary to the overly fetishistic video. NSFW doesn’t even begin to describe it.
It’s all here. Mukbang? Check. Domination? Check. Whip? Latex catsuit? Spiked boots? Check, check and CHECK. The biggest twist from her first hit is that this time she wants to be serviced instead of the other way around. “This sh*t edible/it’s like caramel, kiss my genital/mine taste medical, hers like chemicals”. It’s crass to be sure but so was Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” in 2002 and that was WELL before YouTube or “going viral” even existed. The template for this kind of success has always been there and Doja’s following it perfectly.
Throughout the 60 minutes (deluxe version) of “Amala“, Doja alternates between singing, rapping, and AutoTuned vocals with unapologetically frank themes. Even seemingly innocent Mariah Carey-esque tracks like “Wild Beach” are thinly veiled allusions to getting your f#%k and suck on. Life’s a beach for Doja.
Can’t control these wild things
Can’t you see you’re drowning?
Trying to tame a wild beast, I’m a wild beach
It’s like you’re trying tame a wild beast
I’m a wild beach I’m a wild beach, I’m a wild beach”
There’s not a single thing in Doja Cat’s world that’s not simultaneously sexual and edible. The Budo, Cambo and Yeti produced “Candy” shows off the high fructose corn syrup, while Yeti and Tyson Trax’ “Juicy” is the more natural sweetness. Although it’s not included on the album, the remix featuring Tyga is already the latest Doja video to climb to viral heights.
A million writers will write a million words about how “Juicy” is objectifying and dehumanizing women. You can’t argue with that when Doja turns herself into a watermelon and offers you a slice of her ass. I’d rather pose the same question I would to Cardi B or Nicki Minaj — who controls the narrative? In both cases I would argue the artist does, not her label or her management, and even propose that they are empowered by it. If a man sells a woman’s sexuality and keeps all the money, there’s no question that’s abusive and manipulative. If a woman sells her OWN sexuality of her own volition and keeps the profit, she’s winning the game. Of course this idea is inherently complicated and flawed by the fact record labels take a HUGE cut of the earnings an artist makes.
I’d like to tell you that “Amala” redefines what a empowered woman can do in the rap game, but that would be a lie. That’s been done over and over in my lifetime. Roxanne Shante did it, MC Lyte did it, Queen Latifah sure as hell did it, and that’s just scratching an iota of the surface. I’d like to tell you that “Amala” shows that Doja Cat is more than a one trick pony, but she rides more sexual metaphors than Ginuwine. I’d like to tell you “Amala” establishes Doja Cat as a mainstream artist — that at least would be true. She’s not the best at what she does, she’s far from the worst, and when necessary she’ll be crass or curse to get her point across. If I can give Doja Cat credit for anything on “Amala” it’s that her frank sexuality doesn’t feel forced or fraudulent. She’s playing exactly the game she wants to play.