Illustration by Nisala Saheed
This is a project that was always going to divide opinions. While many will find plenty to take away from CupcakKe’s third full length release, Ephorize, there will be others who will not even be able to get through a single track.
CupcakKe is a Chicago based rapper who was discovered when her songs Vagina and Deepthroat went viral on Youtube for their raunchy lyrics and catchy hooks. And when I say raunchy, I mean these songs feature some of the most raw sexual imagery I have ever heard.
There is absolutely no doubt that her lyrics are gimmicky. Her earlier work especially consisted of little other than ridiculous one liners, painting a picture of a world that would put anyone’s sexual fantasies to shame. Yet, the way in which she conveys these images and scenarios is truly impressive and her lyrical masterclass shines brighter than ever on this latest release.
Obviously CupcakKe has retained much of what made her stand out in the past. Her hilarious and hyper sexual lyrics are still at the core of everything she does, but her newer work is built around more nuanced issues such as the female body, queer topics and self confidence.
For example, the dancehall inspired track Crayons, is an ode to LGBTQ rights, performed the only way CupcakKe knows how: with a great bouncy beat in the background as she blasts the hook “Boy on boy, girl on girl. Like who the fuck you like! Fuck the world!”. Her free flowing bars make the song exceptionally catchy and you are left fighting the urge to sing along to all those amazing sexual innuendos.
Honestly, there is so much to love on this fantastically produced album, but the song Duck Duck Goose definitely epitomizes the whole project. A well known children’s game of patting your friends on the back while signing a jingle is repurposed to mean tapping the head of a dick. CupcakKe’s delivery is simply excellent and the beat is undeniably eccentric. Of course, the lyrics also reach peak hilarity with every line delivering a message more deviant than the last.
I have been listening to this album a lot recently and with every listen I can further appreciate everything that this project has to offer. A lot of the appreciation requires being able to look beyond the lyrics, which is difficult because they are so unique and unfamiliar. However, songs like Navel feature amazing flute samples, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is simply a banger, Total is a great trap rap hit and Fullest draws from Latin influences. Honestly, these comments only begin to scrape the surface of CupcakKe’s latest project.
The real question about CupcakKe is how she fits into the current music scene and, even more broadly, our societal predisposition to view profanities as temporary and lacking in substance. Building a character on explicit lyrics and this type of sex rap means that the majority of listeners will discard your music out of hand. The line of thinking goes that if your subject matter is raw and hyper-sexual, then it cannot be serious enough to warrant consideration for any meaningful period of time.
Additionally, CupcakKe is a female rapper, which makes her even more out of place in the established musical framework. Everyone is used to hearing Young Thug rap about his primitive male fantasies, but for some reason, a woman rapping about sex, still strikes listeners as peculiar.
The blatant gender bias and double standards were recently exemplified when YouTube removed a couple of CupcakKe’s music videos, which as one would expect, were exceptionally graphic. The act itself was likely in accordance with YouTube’s policies. However, we must ask why a similar approach is not applied across the board to more mainstream male rappers whose music videos regularly feature dozens of topless women enjoying their moment of fame.
In sum, I just sincerely hope that CupcakKe’s talent shines through the numerous societal obstacles that she is currently facing.
So definitely give CupcakKe a listen. Probably not in public, people are not ready yet, but she is certainly something.
Favorite Tracks: Duck Duck Goose, Total, Crayons, Fullest, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Worst Tracks: Post Pic
Steffen Holter is a music columnist. Email him at [email protected]