Doja Cat (real name: Amala Zandile Dlamini) is a 22-year-old LA artist who makes music she’s described as “trappy-go-lucky,” and this week she’s scored her latest viral hit in “Mooo!” — where she raps the chorus “bitch, I’m a cow” while dancing around her bedroom in front of a homemade green screen while dressed in a cow costume. The (possibly NSFW) video quickly blew up the internet, earning 1.3 million views in six-ish days.
Dlamini told Noisey the idea came from one of her regular Instagram Live sessions, where she says she hangs out with her fans to produce and write — “50-60 people” a session, in her words. Some of those people thought her freestyling about cows was funny, and urged her to write a full song. (The costume is for Dlamini’s upcoming tour as Doja Cat in support of her debut album Amala, which was released this March; she was wearing it while making a beat, reportedly, and it led her to rap about cows. “Just, fuck it,” she told Noisey.)
When she’s not dropping (fire) bars about cows, Dlamini is signed to RCA; her first 2014 EP, Purrr! got a lot of press, and established the then-18-year-old as an up-and-coming force in the music industry. The whole episode is trés Internet-in-2018: semi-established artist drops lo-fi video as a joke, goes instantly viral — viral enough to spawn a catchphrase and a dance challenge — just before heading on tour to promote her new record.
Rap is weird now. That’s not to say it wasn’t weird before, because it was, but there’s something about growing up with the internet that changed the game from the inside out. Hip-hop is mostly for the young, and as the kids that grew up constantly connected to the world via high speed internet (as well as powerful digital audio software that could be pirated and stuffed into a laptop) are reaching their teens and early twenties, there’s been an explosion of rap that’s both Very Online and catholic in its interests.
The kids are alright, and they’re magpies: every Soundcloud rapper worth his bars has lines about everything from the iconic anime Dragon Ball Z to Mario (of Super Mario Brothers fame). I mean, even Cardi B name-dropped the red plumber on her massively popular debut album. This year, CupcakKe, another young rapper, dropped an entire drill-infused song about the cartoons of her youth — Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, and the like. A month ago, Dlamini released “Nintendhoe,” which repurposed the Nintendo Gamecube startup jingle into a beat over which she flowed about the games she enjoys playing. (Sample lyrics: “I ain’t never been poor / Used to play Sims 4.”)
Music is one of the first artistic mediums to respond to shifts in society, and rap moves even faster than that; thanks to the new generation of rappers with a shared set of references and sources that simply weren’t available before the internet, rap’s only going to get weirder — and thank god for that.