Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion – WAP

Our takes may have gone cold, but is this song still hot?


Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Never in my life have I felt so sexually empowered and so on the verge of laughter at the same time. The only thing that could make “WAP” even more fire is the success of this petition.

Alfred Soto: A platform for a world-class emcee and an excellent contemporary realizing her powers to sell toughly enunciated raunch even when a few lines could use another pass; but, hey, Ben Shapiro’s upset already, so good on Cardi and Megan.

Thomas Inskeep: There are so many amazing lyrics in this song, you really need to read its Genius page. (My personal favorite line is Cardi referring to her uvula with “I want you to touch that lil’ dangly thing that swing in the back of my throat.”) I also love the annotation for the first chorus, which starts “Talking about her WAP is pretty commonplace for Cardi, so her making a song about it almost seemed inevitable,” before giving a series of examples: research! And beyond the lyrics, which are the epitome of the phrase “women on top,” the song’s groove is so minimalist and brilliant, my god. It’s basically just a bassline, a click track, and the absolute perfect sample, from Frank Ski and Al “T” McLaran‘s 1993 B’more classic “Whores in This House.” (Another brilliant touch: the horn that blares, just once, after Cardi’s “big Mack truck” line.) Cardi and Megan are such an ideally suited pair — I mean, I really didn’t expect Megan to have another single even more newsworthy than her “Savage” remix this year, did you? — whose vocals complement each other just so, just *chef’s kiss*.

Jessica Doyle: “WAP” is not at all disturbing, but it is impressive, and truth be told, it does make me uncomfortable. Megan Thee Stallion’s part, mainly. Not Cardi’s — I’m not so thick-headed as to object to Cardi being raunchy; Cardi gets raunchy to make a point that her background, her past worries about money and her ability to provide for her family, her sense of humor, and her ability to enjoy sex are all intertwined, and we should be able to deal with all of them together. But from reading interviews with Megan I get the distinct impression that she wants to make, and is capable of making, a good many different points, on a good many different topics; her ability to enjoy sex may actually be the least interesting thing about her. And collaborating with Cardi, in a song where Cardi goes first, could have, in theory, freed Megan to outsource the raunchiness, bounce off it and take things in a different direction, instead of having to say things like, “If it don’t hang, then he can’t bang.” I’m not finding fault with her, for what it’s worth. Cardi called it: we’re the ones who insist that women (especially, but not only, nonwhite women) talk about enjoying sex even if we’d all be better off if they talked about how to manage nursing homes.

Katherine St Asaph: “WAP” is a fun song, if low-key, with a well-deployed sample, always-welcome Megan and steadily improving Cardi. It is 75% as dirty as the average Cupcakke track, let alone many tracks by men. (Illustrative: The chorus to Megan’s own “Hot Girl Summer” consists of Ty Dolla $ign Dennis Reynoldsing about his “five-star dick.” Nobody gave a fuck.) But it’s not about the WAP, not really. Cardi B unites, like no other artist currently, rampaging stans and runoff hipsters, both of whom view the Invasion of Privacy BNM as an atrocity for which all critics and fanbases must be held accountable forever. The artist credit, as much as the raunch, is why “WAP” has joined “Stupid Hoe” and “My Humps” as songs that commenters will gripe about for years as the one thing wrong with modern music. Other commenters will overpraise it and liken it to “My Neck, My Back” and “What’s Your Fantasy” (and no other songs by Khia or Shawnna, if they can even name them). Other commenters from academia or Cracked will one-up everyone by mentioning Bessie Smith or Lucille Bogan. Still others will meme on: Interrupting Kylie. Hypothetical Kidz Bop covers.Goop on your grinch. The mac and cheese vine. The opera singer Tiktok. The USPS Tiktoks. Ben Shapiro reading the lyrics. The gyno responding to Ben Shapiro reading the lyrics. The Song-a-Day guy remixing Ben Shapiro reading the lyrics. Donald Trump making the White House showerheads wetter. Claudia Conway setting Kellyanne’s ringtone to “WAP.”The headline “Why Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” is actually a public health triumph.” The headline “This $3.69 million Bloomfield Hills mansion is serving big WAP energy.” The headline “50 Sexts To Send In The Morning, Inspired By WAP.” Someone well-meaning will tweet about how not everyone’s P gets W; someone less well-meaning will screenshot it with “I hate this website.” Someone will go on 15.ai, when it’s up again, and have it read by Rainbow Dash. SNL will do a skit with Maya Rudolph about wet-ass polls. This, of course, is all about the Internet (a slice of it, at least) and not the music. But the Internet is people, in 2020 more so than ever, and for everyone consuming it via regular-degular terrestrial radio (which it is on) there are two consuming it online and producing in turn. We — all 20 of us — may read music writing for the joy of having songs unexpectedly cracked open, not for the Discourse of when and who it’s OK to crack it open for, and how much it’s acceptable to rap about it. But it’s too late. “WAP,” from start, was transformed permanently from song to straw fallacy. And you know what you don’t have if you’re made of straw?

Alex Clifton: “Macaroni in a pot” belongs in the Hague — just slightly too evocative for my tastes — but otherwise this is perfect. Cardi and Megan have created the most fun single of 2020 and have reminded me what it feels like to enjoy things. Also, anything that distresses Ben Shapiro has to be good.

Will Adams: “WAP,” if nothing else, is symbolic of how accelerated the progress from Big Pop Event to Memecourse has become. Within days of release, it’s no longer about a team-up of two high profile women rappers. It’s now (also) about the DEFCON-5 levels of pearl-clutching from people with absolute zero hip hop literacy. It’s about how quickly we can sync Ben Shapiro’s stone-faced recitation of the lyrics to the instrumental. It’s about an artist who literally released a hit single titled “Fuck You” pooh-poohing “adult content.” It’s about what Carole Baskin has to say about the tigers in the video. It’s about memeing at a mile a minute and the inevitable media co-opting of what is at its core a raunchy song about being good at sex as additional fodder for our political hellscape. If this feels unfair to the song, consider that this is simply an extension of the pop machine’s design. Take the hyper-color video, which stops dead for an extended Kylie Jenner cameo, and feels similarly engineered for maximum clicks (and yes, this is not unique to this song). This score reflects both my fondness for “WAP” as a song — knocking beat, memorable lines and boundless energy from the two leads — as well as frustration with the trend of external context overwhelming everything at hyper-speed. Bring a bucket and a mop for this Mess Ass Discourse.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I don’t have anything profound or particularly funny to say about this song that hasn’t likely been said already but I do want to make sure everyone is aware of the clean version of the clean version, which replaces “Wet Ass Pussy” (already once sanitized to “Wet And Gushy”) with “Wet Wet Wet Wet”, censors out Cardi’s reference to the uvula, censors the word “Hoes” every one of the 72 times it appears, yet somehow leaves in Megan saying “Gobble me, swallow me, drip down the side of me.” “WAP” is an endless font of joy and I hope the institution of the overly sanitized radio edit continues long after the death of the radio as a communications medium.

Jonathan Bradley: It’s delightful to hear Cardi and Megan play off one another like this, highlighting each other’s strengths. Megan bustles through, tossing syllables like dodge balls — “gobble me, swallow me, drip down the slide of me,” she dribbles together, just to show she can, before getting measured: recognize how she balances “I’m looking for a beating” with “in the food chain, I’m the one that’s eating.” Cardi highlights her compadre’s technical prowess; for her part, it’s her theatricality that shines. Performance is what we expect from Cardi, but she shows out in entirely new ways on “W.A.P.,” cartoonishly invoking that “little dangly thing that swing in the back of my throat” and sketching like a caricaturist an image of a “BIG — MACK — TRUCK” that parks “right in this little garage.” (I think it might be the first time Cardi’s suggested anything about herself might be diminutive.) Rap is built on competition, but sometimes a song comes along designed to allow everyone involved to show off how good they really are. I’m hoping for a remix that gives five or six more MCs the chance to flex like these two do here.

Nortey Dowuona: Usually these are pretty short but I’m gonna lengthen it out for a bit: 1: The song is mid. There’s not much to it but a purring base house bass, a loop of “there’s some hoes in this house”, busy bass drums with hidden percussion. and Meg just trying out a sharp doubletime flow she’s been tucking away for a bit to make all your other rap faves feel confident in their borrowed, poorly sewn-up raps. Cardi piles her lines up like a Jenga, and Meg sweeps them off just doing a perfect routine. 2: Cardi was soooooo mid. So dependent on the delivery but no flow, a handful of good lines and nothing else. Just practice these for a bit then spit them! but instead it’s this rigid, stuck-in-the-bass flow that drags until Meg comes in and uses the darn beat like jump rope. 3: “If it don’t hang, then he can’t bang.” Good googly mooogly! Not in the slightest bit mid! Meg has been on a tear this year, and here’s another notch in her belt. 4: The controversy is mid. Really, after years of Hardcore, Da Baddest Bitch, “Enquiring Minds,” and Jeanius are we still gonna be mad about women rapping about sex? Why is this still a discussion we have to have? Can we all admit we’re all bored stiff by this horrible pandemic and just need a scapegoat to flush out all our inadequacies on this otherwise average song? 5: The rap scene is mid. As cool as it is to see City Girls work with Doja, Doja work with Rico and Nicki, and of course Cardi with Meg, these women-rapper collabs happen too infrequently to get so worked up about. Like, Cardi was on fire in 2017 — she def could’ve put Cupcakke, Maliibu Miitch, City Girls and Rapsody on a Ladies Night joint! The fact that none of their teams were trying to make more collabs with women happen is a travesty. (Shout out to Queen Latifah, who was regal as ever on “Hatshepsut.”) 6: This is all mid. In all honesty, we could be listening to more women rappers like Nezi Momodu, Dai Burger, Vintage Lee, Latasha Alcindor and Tokyo Jetz, and covering them and putting them in music vids instead of boring Kylie, but I guess anything that might be above mid might not attract enough attention. 7: Rosalia’s hand movements….were kinda mid.

Reader average: [8.3] (20 votes)

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9 Responses to “Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion – WAP”

  1. Glad to see Ben Shapiro made the list of cultural overhead (both good and bad) <3 Sad to see the Viola Davis edit didn't </3

  2. I was kind of expecting the Wet-Ass Pizza mom from AITA to make an appearance too

  3. On one hand I’m confused how people are so shocked by this. Cardi already had Bickenhead, Megan JUST came out with Captain Hook this year. A song like this should come as a surprise to nobody

    But then again with how utterly toxic the current political climate is I’m not all that surprised

  4. Even outside of Cardi B and Megan’s combined oeuvre, Lil Kim and Trina were dropping sexually explicit raps back in the late ’90s. Hell, Anaconda by Nicki Minaj came out in 2014, way more recently than ’97. This sort of song has been around for a while – back to the ’20s, if you want to go outside of rap and into blues.

  5. Yes, I disregarded the outrage because it seems so obviously confected. There wasn’t this much to-do about “My Neck, My Back” or “How Many Licks,” and that was back when activists were (successfully) trying to get the FCC to cancel Janet Jackson.

  6. Notre t’a blurb is whack and annoying as fuck. Describing everything as mid…..is this music journalism

  7. clearly I was not depressing enough in my prediction

  8. Katherine, I’m wondering if anything could’ve possibly compelled you to predict this pleading, pre-med parody: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8f4iF9MkNU&feature=share

  9. nothing is capable of surprising me

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