Status Ain't Hood

On The Triumphant Nastiness Of CupcakKe

CupcakKe is not subtle. The 19-year-old Chicago rapper first found internet fame with a song called “Vagina.” She titled her first mixtape Cum Cake. She calls her fans “slurpers.” In videos, she wears pasties and thongs, and she does the sorts of things with bananas, cucumbers, popsicles, lollipops, and donuts that you’re probably already imagining. Here’s a characteristic lyric from “Spider-Man Dick,” probably my favorite song from her new mixtape, Audacious: “Have you ever met a girl more nasty than 2 Girls & 1 Cup? / Put the dickhead down, thumb up my butt, that’s how we play seven up.” Here’s another typical lyric: “Can’t wait till it’s my turn / Wanna blow bubbles with sperm.” And another one: “To make my thighs shake like Jell-O, I need a dick longer than a egg roll / Show you a different 69 that no one knows / Like I’m sucking your toes while you eat my butthole.” And another one: “Under the table giving head while he eating cornflakes / Cuz my job ain’t done if that nigga still awake / Nigga moan so much I fuck him with duct tape / I’m 18 but got a tight pussy like I’m eight.” You get the idea.

In a crowded rap marketplace, CupcakKe has found her lane. That’s not easy to do. These days, rappers spend years trying to develop and project an identity. But you can watch 30 seconds of a CupcakKe video and see exactly what image she’s trying to project. I was initially pretty skeptical of this whole thing, for reasons that are not CupcakKe’s fault. In the early-’00s indie rock underground, there was this obnoxious, ironic fascination with Miami bass and its performative sexuality, and plenty of artists tried to put their own spin on it. Peaches was the biggest and most obvious of them, but there were plenty more, too — Gravy Train!!!, Gold Chains, people like that. All of it was, more or less, terrible. And even someone like DJ Assault, who’d been developing his own sound in Detroit for years, got swept up in it, mostly because college kids liked to giggle over songs like “Ass N Titties.”

It’s easy to hear CupcakKe and imagine something similar is happening, that she’s scoring viral hits because of the point-and-laugh factor. She is, after all, so nasty and brazen about enjoying sex. It matters, of course, that this is coming from a woman. Thousands upon thousands of male rappers have put nasty sex raps on record, but very few of them have done it with anywhere near CupcakKe’s level of giddy, joyous raunch, or even her level of unflinching detail. And it also matters that she never raps in a quote-unquote sexy purr. CupcakKe comes from Chicago’s drill universe, and her voice has that same hard, declarative intensity, even if she’s talking about fucking you rather than shooting you. She’s unsigned, and she built up her three-mixtape catalog herself, one $50 studio session at a time. She raps this stuff over minimal, bargain-basement beats, and her videos are, if anything, even cheaper and more simplistic than the ones that made a celebrity of Chief Keef, a rapper who went to elementary school with CupcakKe.

But CupcakKe isn’t a joke, and she isn’t a gimmick, either. In her sex raps, there’s a joyous sort of hedonism. She knows she’s funny, and she’s having fun with it — just like Rudy Ray Moore or 2 Live Crew or any number of overwhelmingly sexed-up male rappers throughout history. And when you get past the viral hits, CupcakKe has things to say. On Audacious, “Spider-Man Dick” leads directly into “Picking Cotton,” a plainspoken and heartbroken song about living with the possibility of police brutality, in a city where police have a long history of killing unarmed people. On “LGBT,” she offers a passionate and loving shout-out to her queer fanbase. “Birth Mark” is a devastating first-person story about a girl who gets an abortion that she doesn’t want, knowing that she’s not going to be able to provide for the kid but still picturing all the parental bonding she won’t be able to do, still wondering if she’ll go to hell. The tape ends in a jubilant, starry-eyed love song to Jesus. CupcakKe contains multitudes.

One of the funny things about CupcakKe is that even her moody, serious songs don’t sound moody or serious. One of the singles from Cum Cake was “Pedophile,” another story song, this one rapped from the perspective of a young girl scarred by an older man. But she’s still rapping hard and sassy over a rudimentary club-banger of a beat. That sonic identity is shifting a bit; some of Audacious uses more mainstream dance beats that don’t really fit her delivery all that well, even if they do offer a welcome switch-up. But CupcakKe is still just starting out and finding her voice. She still hasn’t recorded a song with a remotely well-known rapper or rapped over a remotely well-known producer’s beat. But she does have something that sets her apart, and that’s a huge step. Right now, in rap, there’s not a single person who can rap about fucking with the sort of euphoric abandon that CupcakKe seems to have naturally. That alone makes her worth hearing. Everything else will fall into place.

FURIOUS FIVE

1. Run The Jewels – “Talk To Me”
These two battering rams return, still willfully oblivious of how rap music is supposed to sound and function in 2016. That beat sounds like someone used My Bloody Valentine’s effects pedals to play a jackhammer.

2. YG – “One Time Comin'”
“Think you hard with a badge, huh? / Pop you a nigga, then you laugh, huh? / Think our life don’t matter? / Cuz our family’s scattered?” I wonder how, like, Immortal Technique feels about YG becoming the world’s most relevant political rapper.

3. 2 Chainz – “Good Drank” (Feat. Gucci Mane & Quavo)
These are arguably the three funniest rappers in Atlanta, so of course they all get sad and reflective when they all get on a track together. And they’re good at that, too. (Also, Gucci is still pretty funny.)

4. Action Bronson – “Durag Vs. Headband” (Feat. Big Body Bes)
Ever since he came out, he’s been handing pain out. Fold a wire hanger through your nose, take your brain out. Hey, now.

5. Fetty Wap – “Island On My Chain”
Last year, Fetty Wap was making transcendent hits. This year, he’s making slurry, borderline-incomprehensible bounce-rap. I might like this version of him better?

IT WAS ALL GOOD JUST A WEEK AGO