No sooner had we adjusted to, and celebrated, the idea of pop star Demi Lovato going pop-punk, and country queen Dolly Parton working upon a loud and proud rock ‘n’ roll record, than we’ve been informed of another high profile musician set to make an equally unanticipated lane change, artistically-speaking. Yes, the word is out that pop/hip-hop/R&B ‘face’ Doja Cat is planning upon gatecrashing the punk rock scene.
“I want to explore punk,” the 27-year-old Los Angeles-based rapper/singer/songwriter tells Variety in a new interview set to ruffle a few feathers, quickly clarifying her statement by emphasising, “but not pop-punk.”
“I feel like we have enough pop-punk artists right now,” reasons Ms Cat, better known to her nearest and dearest as Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini. “And if there needs to be more, then let there be more, but I don’t think I’m the one to do it. I want to explore more of a raw, unfiltered, hardcore punk sort of thing. It’s just something that I’m doing for my own personal fun — getting some drummers and guitarists together. And I don’t even know if that’s gonna make it out there.”
A colourful, sometimes controversial, entertainer, Doja Cat was regarded as something of a joke, or a novelty at best, when she first crashed into the public consciousness in 2018 with her viral hit Mooo!, which struck a chord worldwide with lyrics such as “Old MacDonald had a farm / I give him a titty, tryna keep him calm” and a chorus which insists, “Bitch, I’m a cow, Bitch, I’m a cow“.
Those who had pegged the singer as a here today /gone later today one (novelty) hit wonder have been forced to re-calibrate their assessment across the past five years, as she’s gone from strength-to-strength, winning a Grammy Award for 2021 single Kiss Me More, taken from her third album Planet Her, which ended up becoming the tenth-biggest-selling album in the world in 2021.
At the time of writing, the singer/rapper has an impressive 51,721,163 monthly listeners on Spotify – with her 86 songs on the platform racking up 12.7 billion streams – and 25.2 million followers on Instagram. Despite her success and celebrity, however, she has not always felt at ease in her chosen career. “Everything is dead to me, music is dead, and I’m a fucking fool for ever thinking I was made for this…” she tweeted last year. “This shit ain’t for me so I’m out.”
The prospect of diving into the punk world, however, appears to have lit a new fire under the singer, who tells Variety that her current favourite band is Bristol post-punks Idles.
“I know that I’ve done a lot of pink and soft things, a lot of pop and glittery sounds,” she adds, “but for this next era, I’m going in a more masculine direction.”
“Rap is punk and punk can be rap.”
As an example of Doja Cat’s disregard for genre conventions, you can hear her cover of Hole’s Celebrity Skin below.