Doja Cat Uses Her Heritage In Her Music

Even fans of Doja Cat will admit that she can be a little unpredictable. Although that has caused her problems at times, it also contributes to her unique and irresistible sound. She’s not afraid to be different, and it’s made her a star

One of the inspirations for her music is her heritage, including the culture of her father. But this connection isn’t what you may expect. Yet despite the issues that Doja Cat has with her dad, she’s still able to appreciate what his homeland has to offer her music.

Who is Doja Cat?

Doja Cat turned to the side in front of a red background
Doja Cat | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

According to IMDb, Doja Cat was named Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini when she was born in Los Angeles in 1995. She showed an early talent for music, releasing her songs on Sound Cloud when she was a teenager. Her song “So High” drew the attention of music executives, and she signed a record deal when she was 17.

She decided to change her name, and she chose Doja Cat because it referred to two of her favorite things at the time. “Doja” is slang for weed, and she happens to like cats. Since then, she has said that she’s stopped using the drug, but she’s still a big fan of cats.

Her career really took off in 2018, when her single “Mooo!” became a TikTok sensation. She’s continued to use social media to boost her popularity, creating content for YouTube and TikTok. At times, social media has also been a problem for her. Some of her past statements have drawn criticism for being racist

Despite that, she’s been a big success. She’s been nominated for three Grammy Awards, won two American Music Awards, as well as the MTV Video Music Award for Push Best New Artist. 

What is Doja Cat’s heritage?

Just as Doja Cat’s success on social media has been something of a mixed bag at times, her heritage can be a little confusing if you don’t pay close attention to the details. According to People, her mother, Deborah Elizabeth Sawyer, is an artist and an American. She’s white and is Jewish. Doja Cat grew up in the US with her mom. 

Her father is Dumisani Dlamini, is from South Africa. He’s an actor and a dancer who has appeared in Broadway musicals such as Lion King. After years living in the US, he was homesick and returned to South Africa. Doja Cat has said in several interviews that she’s never met Dlamini, although he denies this is true. 

But although her relationship with her father isn’t close, he does appear to contribute to her music.

Her South African heritage impacts her music

Although Doja Cat is not connected to her father, she does appreciate the heritage he gave her. According to Pop Sugar, she draws on her South African roots when she samples other genres of music in her work. She likes to use unexpected combinations of styles to create her unique style, and her South African heritage is a big part of that.

“Yeah, this album is a lot more African influenced,” she said about her 2019 album Hot Pink. “I can sample Blink-182 but put an African vocal sample in there. The whole song feels like you’re in a tropical forest.”

If there’s one thing that’s clear about Doja Cat, it’s that she isn’t easy to put in a box. Despite the estrangement between her and her father, she is comfortable embracing the cultural connection he gave her. 

RELATED: Doja Cat Looks for This 1 Quality in an Ideal Partner