Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, more popularly known as Doja Cat, is a wonderful American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. As a teenager, she began making and releasing music on SoundCloud. Her song “So High” was scouted by Kemosabe and RCA Records, and she signed a joint record deal at the age of 17. Doja Cat earned viral success as an internet meme with her 2018 single “Mooo!”.
Doja Cat has received numerous awards throughout her career, including one Grammy Award from eleven nominations, five Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards and three MTV Video Music Awards.
Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini was born on October 21, 1995, into a family of artists in the Tarzana neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
Doja Cat’s father, Dumisani Dlamini, is a South African performer of Zulu descent, famed for starring as Crocodile in the original Broadway cast of the popular musical “Sarafina!” as well as its 1992 film adaptation.
The 58-year-old star was born and raised in South Africa before moving to the U.S. to pursue a career in the arts. He met Doja’s mother during his time in the US, and they had two children. Doja Cat and her father had a brief relationship after meeting in New York City where Dumisani performed on Broadway, but he was too busy on tour to spend time with Amala and her brother.
Dumisani revealed that he had left his family in the US for South Africa out of homesickness, in the hopes that they would join him there. However, Doja Cat has claimed on several occasions that she is estranged from her father, saying that she “never met him”. Her father has denied these claims, claiming that he has a “healthy” relationship with his daughter and that her management team had tried to restrict all his attempts to contact her in fear that they might lose her.
Dumisani expresses his pride regarding his daughter, and he comments a lot on her social media posts. In an interview with TshisaLive, he mentioned: “Beautiful girl, who goes by the name Doja Cat, she’s singing with Nicki Minaj. If you google you will see it, it’s D. O. J. A. C. A. T, she’s one of the best singers now in America. That’s my daughter!”
Dumisani gives a lot of praise and attention to Doja, but most social media users see it as a means for him to re-enter Doja’s life now that she is famous. Doja thinks that it’s a bit weird that Dumisani actively comments on her posts, but she doesn’t hold any grudges against him. She believes that she inherited her talents from Dumisani. Doja told XXL: “God bless him. He’s so talented. If I get an ounce of talent and dancing, it’s from him.”
Doja Cat’s mother, Deborah Sawyer, is a Jewish-American graphic designer. She met Doja’s father during his time in the US, and they had two children. Doja was raised by her mom and she drew her musical style from the songs her mom used to play. Doja mentions that Deborah loved hip-hop, and it was surprising to her since she is white.
Doja stated in an episode of The Hotbox: “I’m Jewish, my grandma’s Jewish, she’s white, and she was never exposed to music like that until she started meeting people and was like, wow I really love this. Once she had me, she would play a lot of Erykah Badu, a lot of Fugees, and Jamiroquai and Seal, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Alice Coltrane, a lot of stuff like that…” Deborah helped inspire Doja’s creativity.
After Doja Cat’s birth, she along with Deborah and her brother, Raman Dlamini, moved from Tarzana to Rye, New York, where she lived for five years with her maternal grandmother, who was a Jewish architect and painter. At the age of eight, she moved with her mother and brother to the Sai Anantam Ashram, a commune in the mountains of Santa Monica, where she practiced Hinduism for four years.
While residing at the commune, Doja started wearing head-covering scarves and singing bhajans at the temple, but she felt like she could not properly enjoy her formative years with Hinduism's constraining customs and traditions, despite her mother's urge to bring her up in this environment. They then eventually returned to California in Oak Park.
Recently, Deborah Sawyer filed for divorce against Dumisani Dlamini. She lists the date of marriage as February 27, 1995, and the date of separation is listed as October 14, 1995. In her filing, Deborah cites “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split and asks that neither party receive spousal support. She wants Dlamini to cover the legal fees. Further, she wants all separate property and all assets acquired before the marriage and during the marriage “through gift or inheritance, as after the date of separation be confirmed to her as her separate property.”
Doja has siblings scattered across various cities, but she doesn’t know them personally. There is hardly any information about her siblings except for her elder brother, whose name is Raman Dlamini. There isn’t much information available about him. Doja claimed that she and her brother have also experienced harsh racism as they were the only mixed-race children in her locality.
She is appreciative of the small family unit she grew up around. She told The Fader: “It’s always great to have both of your parents in your life and all of your brothers and sisters and everybody loves each other, but like, sh*t isn’t like that sometimes.”
Her maternal grandmother used to live in Rye, New York. By profession, she is a Jewish architect and painter. Her aunt was a vocal coach, who had given Cat singing lessons to help her audition for Central Los Angeles Area New High School #9, a performing arts high school in Los Angeles. Other details about her family are very scarce as she hasn’t revealed anything else to the public.
The song 'Streets' was included in Doja Cat's second studio album Hot Pink, which was released back in 2019, and became a success thanks to the viral Silhouette Challenge on TikTok. The song samples B2K's 2003 track 'Streets Is Callin', which is where the song gets its title from.
In an interview with Capital XTRA's Classical Kyle in 2019, Doja Cat explained the meaning of her stage name saying, “I smoked a lot of weed when I was like sixteen when I started making music, and I thought the Doja, cos Doja is another word for weed. I thought it sounded cute, like a girl's name, and then I just put cat because I like cats.”
Doja Cat has worked with Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, also known as Dr. Luke, the CEO of Kemosabe Records, on several songs from her album Hot Pink. She signed with him when she was just 17. Dr. Luke was accused of sexual assault and abuse by singer Kesha; however, the case was eventually dismissed. Despite artists’ efforts to restrict working with the producer, he has worked on numerous of Doja Cat's songs like her hits 'Juicy', 'Say So', and 'Rules'.