“I don’t think she’s a rapper,” she told Drink Champs hosts NORE and DJ EFN. “Let’s be clear with that. [The Grammy committee] put her in the rapper category, and I don’t think she’s a rapper. But she makes dope records, and I think she’s dope.”
Remy isn’t alone. Her comments reflect a popular perception among a certain sect of rap fans. Despite the fact that Doja raps on most of her songs, many hip-hop fans refuse to refer to her as a rapper, labeling her as a pop artist instead. We even see it in our own comments sections at Complex. Last November, our Instagram post celebrating the best rappers in their 20s was riddled with befuddled commenters asking variations of “Why is Doja Cat even on this list? Since when is she a rapper?” Similar messages filled the Instagram comments section when it was announced that Doja’s Planet Her became the most-streamed album by a female rapper in history.
“Is Doja Cat a rapper or?” is one of the first questions listed under the “people also ask” section on her Google search results. When attempting to label multi-talented artists like Doja, fans find themselves confused, and it starts to become apparent how pointless the categorizations are. But it also hints at a deeper issue. The industry is flooded with artists who sing and rap, but male artists aren’t having any trouble being considered rappers (sometimes to their dismay). On the flipside, Doja Cat is a prime example of genre-bending women who’re primarily being labeled singers.
Doja Cat started her career rapping in the LA underground scene, and she still raps on many of her songs (like “Rules” and “Juicy”), but she is widely considered “just” a pop star because she sings on some of her biggest Billboard hits. The Grammys committee nominated her in pop categories, but not rap categories, and hip-hop fans continue to fight the notion that she’s an MC. Yes, part of her catalog allows her to sit next to Olivia Rodrigo, Dua Lipa, and SZA on a festival bill or in an award category. But she also fits next to Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion as an MC capable of dropping fun, technically strong verses over a variety of beats. Despite her talent, she, like other Black artists before her, is boxed in by fans and industry machinations.
Doja recently won a Grammy with SZA for Best Pop Duo, but she also topped the Billboard Hot 100 with the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Say So” remix, which was a first for a woman rap duo. Her pop songs shouldn’t negate her bars. After people questioned her Best Female Hip Hop Artist nomination at the 2021 BET Awards, she even tweeted at her detractors, telling them, “DONT EVER FUCKIN DISRESPECT ME AS A RAPPER. AFTER THE LAST SONG I DROPPED YOU WILL RESPECT MY PEN AND THATS FUCKIN THAT.”