Pride Month Spotlight: Doja Cat

Lisa Marino, Radio General Manager

[Eds Note: This article has been published in partnership with Spinnaker Radio to feature LGBTQ+ music artists and celebrate Pride Month.]

Doja Cat is a 26-year-old hip hop/pop artist. She was raised by her mother and moved from New York to OAK PARK, Calif. Doja grew up loving to dance after starting dance lessons when she turned 5 years old. She learned jazz, tap, and ballet dance but found a love for breakdancing in high school.

While in high school, Doja participated in a competing poplocking troupe. Her love for dance outweighed her desire to complete school. Doja left high school during her junior year.

Spending most of her time singing and rapping, Doja self-learned how to create her own music in GarageBand.

Doja’s career kickstarted in 2016 when she was signed to a publishing company after releasing the song, So High on SoundCloud.

Being one of the most popular rappers of 2022, Doja shocks pop culture with each song she releases. Doja frequently raps about female empowerment stemming from being bold and independent.

On Instagram, Doja revealed that she is bisexual. Her song Naked talks about being attracted to both men and women.

Say So featuring Nicki Minaj remix became Doja’s top hit after gaining immense popularity on TikTok. Doja raps about asking a man to confess his feelings for her. She teases the man she is rapping to because she is attracted to him and wants him to reciprocate those feelings. A classic, sassy rap by Nicki Minaj was added into the hit’s remix.

Doja Cat picture
Photo courtesy of Doja Cat.

A four-on-the-floor beat begins Say So with signature Nicki Minaj trademarks to announce the remix.

The hook is a gentle, harmonious melody with flirty lyrics. The main vocal is complimented by a homorhythmic, high harmony sung a third above the melody.

An electric guitar and bass guitar play the chord progression in syncopation while a bass drum and crisp snare introduce the beat.

The hook of the song is played shortly before being interrupted by a beat switch into Nicki’s opening rap verse.

Nicki’s rap is first accompanied by heavy 808 bass and a trap beat. The beat is created by hi-hat on the sixteenth notes and claps on 2 and 4. The sixteenth note hi-hat stays consistent while the claps begin new embellishments on the fourth bar of Nicki’s rap.

The same guitar progression from the hook is soon added into the rap. The progression brings listeners back into the groove of the hook, but what sounds like a low pass filter added onto the progression gives a new sound. Low pass filter on the electric guitar decreases the prominence of high frequencies. The effect given from low pass filter EQ (equalizer) alteration can somewhat make instruments sound like they are being played underwater.

Say So by Doja Cat album art
Photo courtesy of Doja Cat.

When Doja comes back in on the chorus, the high frequencies of the guitar are added back into the mix as well as the four-on-the-floor beat.

Doja’s main vocal track is the focal point of the second verse with background vocals sprinkled in between the lyrics of the melody. The vocal melody track is crisp with little reverb whereas the background (BG) vocals are processed in the same manner as the hook of the song. The BG vocals sound as if they were intentionally put slightly out of sync with each other. Although each BG vocal is sung by Doja, the slight delay allows each individual track to be distinguished

After the second chorus, an interlude of instrumentals and vocal adlibs precede the outro.

This interlude may be perceived as the bridge of the song. The vocals in the bridge are airy and euphoric, giving listeners a break from the upbeat hook and rap. A clear melody is absent from the interlude as it consists mostly of vocal runs and hums. The vocals are first panned in the center and processed with reverb to give a wide, spatial effect. Four short vocal lines are then added and panned (maybe 70%) to the right to set apart the multiple vocal tracks.

Suddenly, vocals cut out and only the instrumental groove of the song plays. Again, the high frequencies of the chord progression are brought substantially down. All attack of the percussion is completely omitted, and the effect of the instruments being played under water is brought back.

One vocal track sings an embellished version of the melody and introduces Nicki’s rap outro.

Percussion is removed once Nicki starts her rap over the watery chord progression. Throughout the last verse, instruments slightly increase in volume. High frequencies and attack are also slowly raised. Nicki’s rap ends the song when the guitar is clear again.

Doja Cat’s music can be found on Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music


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