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Cardi B’s “WAP” Causes Controversy and Conversation on Female Sexual Empowerment

Last week, rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion dropped a freaky hot collaboration titled “WAP” (Wet-Ass Pu$$y). The song and equally racy video set the internet ablaze with commentary from fans, politicians, DJs, and music critics. We reviewed the responses to determine whether WAP is the new anthem for female sexual empowerment or a flop.

Shot from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” Music Video. Courtesy of Youtube

The Artistic Merit of “WAP” Lyrics

The sexy summer banger which debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Spotify chart samples the 1993 Baltimore club single “Whores in This House” by Frank Ski. The song includes loosely veiled double entendres while discussing oral sex, roleplaying, and gaining material goods in exchange for sexual favors all from the dominant female perspective.

While most feminists might see this as a positive, there is still contention on the artistic merit and lyricism. 

Dj’oneluv Calixte posted on Facebook a call for more artists like Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah. “Tired of these garbage artists dropping soft porn music.” When one commenter challenged them on Missy Elliot’s sexual commentary in songs like “Pussycat” and “One Minute Man”, Calixte responded “Yes, but show where she’s half-naked. Her songs were lyrical and you had to figure out what she’s talking about.”

Recording artist and former judge on The Voice, CeeLo Green told Far Out magazine that “A lot of music today is very unfortunate and disappointing on a personal and moral level. There was once a time when we were savvy enough to code certain things. We could express to those it was meant for with the style of language we used. But now music is shameless, it is sheer savagery.”

However, in his review of “WAP”, American music critic Anthony Fantano described the track as “a watershed moment for female rappers in hip hop”. Fantano praised “WAP” for being a way to “reclaim female sexuality narrative for a female perspective.”

Having knowledge of dirty Blues music from the 20s and 30s, Fantano also explained that “WAP” (in his opinion) wasn’t uniquely raunchy. “The real fear is that guys might actually have to put in some effort—physical and emotional labor to be perceived as fuckable.”

Fantano rounded off his review by asking viewers “Isn’t it sexy to hear women rap about how they like sex and their sexual fantasies?” 

Sexually Progressive Visuals in “WAP”

In the present day, music is more than just instrumentals, vocals, and lyrics. Visuals have become a major factor. “WAP” featured video cameos from Mulatto, Normani, Kylie Jenner, Rosalía, Sukihana, and Rubi Rose.

The visuals included scenes of Cardi and Megan walking down a hallway discovering the aforementioned cameos dancing in themed rooms. There were also choreographed dance breaks in water, a snake pit, and a Willy Wonka-styled factory setting.

Kid Fury, co-host of the African American pop culture podcast The Read, had this to say about “WAP”: “I love so many things about this entire experience, the song is not one of those things. I really love Cardi and Megan working together. Their clear desire to promote and support other women.” 

In the same interview for Far Out magazine, CeeLo Green questioned whether female artists like Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, and Nicki Minaj were prepared to pay the cost for putting out sexually aggressive imagery. Green also said these artists could be “effective in so many other constructive ways, but it feels desperate.”

Green later issued an apology to the women saying his comments were “was used to create a headline and intern creating ‘controversy and disconnect’”

WAP’s Overall Cultural Impact

Popular American radio show The Breakfast Club opened up their phone lines to hear opinions from listeners on the overall cultural impact of “WAP”. Several callers criticized the song for setting back women and Black and Hip Hop culture.

Charlemagne tha God added “‘WAP’ is just entertainment. It’s not the end of the world at all. There’s always been songs with sex-driven lyrics—from men and women. And you know by the way this whole country, this whole society has been like that. From TV to film to music to literature; sex sells always has always will. And out of all the things people complain about in regards to media sex is literally the most natural thing that you can hear about. Like when you talk about film and TV and movies and the negative images that may be depicted in them, drug use, drug selling, murder, robbery, violence—none of that is natural. Okay. All of that is like OD to me. To constantly shoving down folks faces but sex is something that every single person on this planet enjoys. So, I’m not about to sit around and complain and come up with think pieces with no thought about the impact of the song like “WAP”.

Co-host Angela Yee agreed and said that people shouldn’t be shamed for talking about their sexuality. “I think for women and black women in particular we’ve been taught to be ashamed of our bodies and ashamed of our sexuality for so long that it’s nice to see women always taking control of our own narrative about our bodies.”

In response to listeners request for more artists like Queen Latifa, MC Lyte, and Rapsody, Charlamagne tha God chastised them for not supporting these artists the same way they support the songs they claim to not enjoy.

Did you listen to “WAP” or watch the music video? What are your thoughts on lyricisms, visuals, and cultural impact?

What do you think?

Written by Onicia Muller

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