Pop Crave talks to the Kittens about Doja’s latest chart success, just weeks after she publicly denounced the fanbase
A question for the culture: Has Doja Cat become cancel proof?
If you’re looking at the charts, the answer right now is a solid yes. Ahead of her fourth studio album ‘Scarlet’ out September 22, Doja earns her first solo #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Paint The Town Red” – a playful, devilish pop sister of sorts to “Kiss Me More” that marks the first #1 rap song on the chart since Nicki Minaj‘s “Super Freaky Girl” in August 2022.
Since debuting at #15 on the Hot 100 August 19, “PTTR” has only risen on the charts and streaming platforms. The track recently captured the most single day Spotify streams for a female rap song EVER with 7.591 MILLION, surpassing previous record-holder “WAP” by Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion. On Apple Music, a historically male and rap dominated platform, the track currently sits in the top 5. And on the UK single charts, the single just went #1.
While Doja Cat is certainly no stranger to the top of the charts, her latest success comes at a pivotal, nearly implosive time within the fandom. This July, tensions between Doja and fans reached a fever pitch when the rapper mocked users for adopting the terms Kittens, an unofficial name for the Doja fanbase. The comments sent fans into a flurry, with many top stan Twitter pages such as The Kittens Room, Doja Cat News, Doja HQ and more temporarily deactivating their accounts.
The effects were felt on Instagram too, where fan page Doja Cat Brazil put out the following statement:
“It is with great sadness that the DCBR team announces an indefinite break from the page for the first time in three years! We thought a lot about how to say this to you and there’s no other way: Doja’s latest pronouncements on social media left us kittens very disappointed…if we can call ourselves that, since Doja doesn’t seem to like the name of the fandom she herself created. Every day, we put our sweat on this page to keep it active and it’s with great pain that we see the end approaching. What we hope is that Doja rethinks her actions as an artist and has the least amount of consideration for the fans who have been with her since the beginning, supporting and motivating her…because without us, she wouldn’t be where she is.”
At this point in the summer, Doja was playing out a narrative that she was ready to depart the “cash grab” and “mediocre pop” sounds of her previous studio albums ‘Planet Her’ and ‘Hot Pink,’ essentially calling fans clowns for supporting previous eras. Her comments encouraging Kittens to deactivate online felt like another nail in the coffin, with many predicting the rapper wouldn’t experience the same kind of chart success if she continued to mock supporters.
‘Scarlet’ lead track “Attention” was by no means a flop when it dropped before the fan backlash, but its #31 peak on the Hot 100 appeared to foreshadow a dip in popularity among chart obsessives. Just a couple months later, Doja is not only succeeding but thriving on the charts with “PTTR” despite largely negative online chatter. Some are surprised, others feel it’s all a PR stunt, but those with their ear to ground seem to agree on the main takeaway: the Doja Cat backlash hasn’t hurt her career, it actually might be propelling her to even greater heights.
Pop Crave reached out to a handful of top Doja fan pages to get their take on “PTTR”‘s chart success, and the results were…mixed. In fact, brief contact made with pages over email and Twitter indicates the Kittenz have only doubled down on their support in the weeks since Doja publicly denounced them.
Representatives from Doja Cat News, which boasts almost 50k followers, swiftly denied an opportunity to be interviewed for this piece. A brief message from the account reads: “No, because you get Doja dragged [peace sign]”
Other pages were initially game to talk on the subject, only rescind their answers or ghost the interview entirely. One account, which will go nameless, asked for their interview to be scrapped out of fear that this article was actually going to be a hit piece on the rapper.
“I’ve changed my mind,” the account wrote us. “I’d like you not to include anything I’ve written in your article.”
‘Scarlet’ album cover, out September 22
Others were more willing to share their thoughts. When asked how they felt about Doja telling Kittens to deactivate, a rep for DojaCatStats describes an initial feeling of disappointment.
“I thought about stoping updating charts on DojaCatStats – but I think what she said wasn’t even the biggest reason,” DojaCatStats writes Pop Crave. “It was all the actions she had been taking before that event, and everything became a big ball again. But Doja is Doja, she’s chaotic and always has been, so after a few hours I was like, ‘Oh fuck it, I don’t know why I’m still taking her seriously.”
On July 23rd, DojaCatStats tweeted: “Well, it was a great time I guess, time to say goodbye.” Reflecting on the viral moment, DojaCatStats says it was a knee-jerk reaction.
“I actually didn’t think about deactivating, just abandoning the account…but I knew that my interest, love or whatever for her hadn’t ended there so I knew I would come back as soon as possible – her artistry speaks louder than her silly actions.”
DojaCatStats continues: “It was evident some people really had enough of her and stopped being a fan. My friends DojaNews and The Kittens Room deactivated for a while because they were pretty disappointed too, but this was more of an instant reaction. No one really thought to dump her.”
A representative from Twitter page All Things Doja, who was initially hurt by the rapper’s comments this summer, admits the ‘PTTR’ has grown on them:
“Personally, the comments were a bit hurtful at first. I can’t speak for everybody when I say this but, I decided to take some time off the account and spend some time on myself and touching grass,” a rep for All Things Doja wrote us. “I wasn’t a big fan of ‘PTTR’ because of the repetition going on with “Walk on By” by Dionne Warwick, but just like she usually does, she created a grower and I definitely became very fond of the song.”
On the topic of “PTTR” topping the Hot 100, a representative from DojaCatStats Twitter page said they didn’t expect to see the song perform so well:
“I had a good feeling about the reception of the song when it came out, but I certainly didn’t think it would be this big either. So even though I thought it would do well, the success of the song blew me away.”
“Everything has a sense of coherence that just makes the song work” All Things Doja says about PTTR. “I feel like the whole fandom didn’t expect it to grow as it has because of the ongoing situation with her, but this just further proves that people will follow the common trend on social media, but when they turn their phones off they’ll keep streaming and keeping up with her.”
It only makes sense that a rapper like Doja Cat, a digital native whose online footprint proves she’s an expert troller, has spun the Twitter negativity into chart gold. “Her demonic concept creates more conversation and brings people that don’t know her to investigate and listen to her music,” All Things Doja explains. “We mainly saw this when people started accusing her of becoming demonic and joining the illuminati just because she shaved [her head]. So what did she do? She found a way to create conversation and make money off the people that always have something to say.”
DojaCatStats argues it’s the quality of Doja’s music that’s first and foremost the reason for her continued success.
“I think she keeps doing so well on the charts simply because she makes good music…she knows how to make a hit that sticks in your head and you can’t escape it,” says DojaCatStats. “Despite everything, you won’t get away from her because you might think she’s a bad person, but you can’t deny the fact that the songs is still hitting.”
Doja Cat in the “Demons” music video
Doja‘s latest drop, “Demons,” promises a continuation of this demon lord theme on ‘Scarlet’ as the rapper leans even harder into the villain storyline. “I’m definitely most excited for the visuals this era,” says All Things Doja. “After that Demons music video? Yeah, she coming. There’s this excitement in me to see how she experimented and bended the rap genre on this album with her creativeness and sound. I feel like we’re getting something refreshing and new.”
A representative from the Kittens Room Twitter page also offered to take part in this article, but later ghosted the interview for unknown reasons.