It’s felt like Cardi has been gone for a minute, and, in a way, she has been. “WAP” marks the Grammy-winning rapper’s first release as a lead artist since last year’s underrated “Press.” Following up a triple-platinum Grammy-winning debut album that housed two multi-platinum #1 singles is certainly no easy task, but Cardi is already off to an excellent start with “WAP.”
Built around a sample of Frank Ski’s club classic “Whores In This House,” Cardi and Meg trade some of the nastiest and freakiest verses mainstream rap has seen in a little over a decade. Cardi’s inimitable energy was missed and she brings all of that, and more, to the track. Her distinctly New York enunciation of some words offers a nice counterbalance to Megan’s drawl. Regardless, Cardi sets the tone from her first line: “I said certified freak, seven days a week.” Believe it or not, this is probably the tamest line of the entire song. She soon launches into an explanation of the WAP acronym (wet ass pussy), and it’s gun blazing from there. The best parts of Cardi’s verses are when she fine tunes her delivery to increase the impact of her punchlines. When she raps “I want you to park that big Mack truck right in this little garage,” she intentionally slows down the delivery but still raps each word in a staccato style to increase the energy and hype behind the punchline. It’s not a groundbreaking approach to rapping, but it’s especially effective when she does it because it plays well off her natural cadence. In terms of production, Ayo & Keyz craft a surprisingly sparse bass-centric soundscape that is accented by some snaps and hi-hats. The empty production helps push the two rappers’ explosive lyrics and entertaining flows to the forefront while also giving that classic sample the attention it deserves. This was a smart decision because if the beat was too busy the track would have been too crowded and overwhelming.
Megan Thee Stallion has unequivocally owned this year from scoring her first #1 with a Beyoncé-assisted remix of “Savage,” earning her fastest-selling project with Suga, and keeping up the momentum with the release of “Girls In The Hood.” Thee Hot Girl Coach keeps the party going with two scene-stealing verses on “WAP.” On her second verse, she raps, “You can’t hurt my feelings, but I like pain/If he fuck me and ask “Whose is it?”/When I ride the dick, I’ma spell my name, ah.” This line is the perfect encapsulation of what “WAP” is all about: control, power, sexual liberation, and pure unadulterated fun. “WAP” is one massive party where women are unabashedly rapping about their pleasure and their fantasies. They dictate the order of things and everything is done at their command. This is only exacerbated through the eye-popping music video: a visual feast of vibrant colors, tight choreography, smart art direction, and cameos from a slew of female celebs (Normani, Mulatto, Kylie Jenner, ROSALÍA, etc.)
“WAP” is a worthy addition to the rich lexicon of sexually explicit female rap anthems. Cardi and Meg, like City Girls, Cupcakke, and Saweetie, are following past female rap icons like Trina, Shawnna, Khia, etc. From the updos on the album cover to the twin squatting statues in the beginning of the music video, Lil Kim’s blueprint is all over this song. All this is to say: don’t feign shock and outrage or clutch your pearls when you hear these lyrics. From “Big Spender” to “Big Momma Thang,” these themes have been around for decades.
Cardi is back like she never left and Megan has yet to miss this year.