It’s hard to be shocking anymore when it comes to rapping about sex. However, there are very few rappers approaching this topic with wit all the same. In the case of Chicago rapper CupcakKe, initially, she may seem like a campy act. Her album covers are over-the-top, while her social media is nonstop tongue-in-cheek. But lying beneath all this boisterousness is an artist with a highly specific — albeit polarizing — craft and penchant for landing punchlines. On Eden, a follow up to this year’s Ephorize, CupcakKe refines her lyricism, diversifies her subject matter, and proves why she shouldn’t be dismissed.
Right off the bat, CupcakKe exudes confidence. Album-opener “PetSmart” has the 21-year-old rapper addressing critics: “This for the ‘CupcakKe a joke’ / One million in and you broke/ He fainted as soon as I spoke/ Like Wendy Williams, heat stroke.” These bars allude to Eden’s central theme: CupcakKe triumphing over men. The next track, “Cereal and Water,” delves into societal issues like mass-incarceration and domestic abuse. On a standout bar, she uses Hip Hop legend Dr. Dre’s violent past to address the prison system’s double standards: “You racist, so fuck what you say/ He black sellin’ weed, he will never see day/ That’s funny when abusers ain’t locked away/ They in the crib giving more beats than Dr. Dre.” There’s a notable upending of a power-dynamic here — an up-and-coming, indie female rapper weaponizing clever double entendres and extended metaphors to take on a Hip Hop titan.
But CupcakKe’s foray into socially conscious rap isn’t the main event. Similar to her previous work, she’s here to find creative ways to make sex amusing. Almost anything can be given her signature, raunchy gloss. The amusing “Garfield” has her comparing her vagina to the iconic comic of a grumpy, chubby cat over an up-tempo, calypso beat. During the chorus, she hammers in the salacious simile: “I got a, fat cat, fat cat, fat cat…” While on “Typo” she compares intercourse to “makin’ chili,” “Blackjack” has her bragging about her partner’s genitalia by comparing it to “Ariana’s ponytail.” Later, she hilariously belittles her hook-up with the line, “He cum quick like Amazon Prime.” CupcakKe is at her best when she’s sexualizing the most random and mundane things from our zeitgeist.
This humor also serves larger purposes as well. The Chicago artist’s message has always been about self-empowerment with her larger-than-life personality is serving as a vehicle for fans to find their own confidence. On the album’s closing tracks, the hard-hitting “Don’t Post Me” and the anthemic “A.U.T.I.S.M,” CupcakKe stresses this theme and ends on a good note.
Eden is irreverent and far from the crossover moment most other artists would be craving by their fourth album. But clearly, CupcakKe doesn’t care. She’s finding success on her own terms and inviting her audience along for the ride.