First things first, try not to watch the video above at your desk at work. I’m not saying there are huge, bouncing, anime boobs all throughout it that could potentially make your coworkers question everything about you, but I’m not not saying there are huge, bouncing, anime boobs throughout this video, so proceed with caution.
Depending on your level of social media usage over the weekend, you may have already been exposed to the video for “Mooo!” from Doja Cat, completely separated from context in some cases, and wondered to yourself,” What exactly the hell am I looking at right now?” That would be a perfectly reasonable response to a song wherein the artist refers to herself as a cow (repeatedly) and proceeds to find a sincerely astonishing array of ways to work a cow’s signature catchphrase into her bold, hilarious rhymes. It’s silly and strange and alarmingly catchy, exactly the sort of thing calculated to go viral on social media, ticking the funny bones of one generation while working the nerves of another.
Which is, unsurprisingly, exactly what Doja Cat says she wants from the song and its bizarre, DIY, green-screened video. “I like to disappoint woke-hip-hop people,” she tweeted as the video — which she shot and produced herself — began to go insanely viral over the weekend. She elaborated, “I love that the majority of you guys are healthy and normal and then all of the people who don’t like moo are taking their lives and a song I wrote about cows all too seriously, losing hair over it.” In that respect, “Mooo!” is a proud addition to the canon of jokey hip-hop songs trying to interject some fun back into the stoic genre which includes prior viral hits like Yung Humma’s “Lemme Smang It,” Lil B’s entire oeuvre, and stretches back to the Fresh Prince’s hits like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and parody groups like 2 Live Jews.
However, despite her latest big, viral hit featuring a cow costume and deliberately poor digital rendering, Doja Cat is actually a “serious” artist — as much as anyone with the lyrics, “Bitch, I’m a cow,” in their catalog can be. Equal parts Tumblr kid, Los Angeles Black hipster, and aspiring pop-rap diva, Doja Cat — born Amala Zandile Dlamini — is currently signed to an RCA Records label deal and has released two projects since 2014. The first, Purrr!, was her self-released debut EP and featured both spacey R&B, and experimental, wavy rap. The second was her full-length debut, Amala, released March 30 of this year, building on her quirky existing style with poppier beats and more polished production and melodies.
The true crown jewel of her collection, though, is her Soundcloud, where she has consistently released loose tracks for the past five years. Unfettered by the commercial requirements of her label-endorsed material, she is free to toss anything and everything that takes her fancy at the wall — where it seems she doesn’t particularly care if it sticks, so long as she likes the mess it makes. Tracks like “Yeeeah!” “Magic Pink Capsule,” and “Take Yo Bitch” let her embrace her spontaneous whims and impulsive creative instincts to the fullest, resulting in some wild, weird, and outright fun musical experiments that defy establishment hip-hop’s insistence on self-seriousness or standard, in-the-club turn-up. This is dancing around in your bedroom mirror when no one else is home, let your inner goofball have free reign music.
It’s a much-needed reminder that music doesn’t just have to be restricted to the usual formulas and formats that we’ve become accustomed to thanks to marketing algorithms and focus groups and sales charts. Music doesn’t have to be a commodity. It doesn’t even have to make a whole lot of sense. With songs like “Mooo!” Doja Cat is injecting levity, randomness, and fun into a hip-hop landscape that can sometimes get too self-conscious for its own good.