Despite being frequently hilarious, the first single from Cardi B’s upcoming second album treats female pleasure with the seriousness it deserves.
‘WAP’ belongs to a neglected subgenre: female-led hip-hop anthems that are unapologetically filthy. Outrageous early-00s hits like Lil Kim’s ‘How Many Licks?’ and Khia’s ‘My Neck, My Back’ walked so ‘WAP’ could run.
Assisted by Megan Thee Stallion, the song is dripping with one-liners so eyebrow-raising, they’re putting plastic surgeons out of business.
Shock value played a critical part in the track’s rapid infamy. Yet nearly two months on from its break-the-internet release, ‘WAP’ has been knocked from its perch at the top of US Spotify just once – by Justin Bieber’s comparatively puritanical ‘Holy’, a chart battle that likely reflects America’s ongoing culture war. ‘WAP’ returned to #1 within a day.
So what makes ‘WAP’ so sticky?
A shrewd interpolation can do a lot of heavy-lifting. Frank Ski’s off-kilter 1993 dance track ‘Whores in This House’ is shockingly fertile soil for a hip-hop track to grow from, and producers Ayo the Producer and Keys get their money’s worth, looping the sample ad nauseum to hypnotic effect.
But the replay value of something as sonically sparse as ‘WAP’ lives or dies by its lyrical content. As performers, Cardi’s cartoonish delivery meshes perfectly with Megan’s more intricate flows. Between them, they offer a bounty of ribald rhymes that, while hilarious, also treat a woman’s pleasure with the seriousness it deserves. Here are my personal favourites…
1. “Put this pussy right in your face / Swipe your nose like a credit card”
I like to think of this lyric as Cardi’s idea of justice for the model who had Nelly swipe her butt cheeks with his credit card back in the 2003 video for ‘Drill Tip’.
2. “If he fuck me and ask ‘Whose is it?’ / When I ride the dick, Ima spell my name”
The implications here are twofold. While her sexual partner might be expecting Megan to say his name, she inverts the kinky premise, and asserts ownership of her own genitalia, her sexual partner’s genitalia, or possibly both.
3. “Your honour, I’m a freak bitch”
Why is Megan addressing a judge? Is she on trial for being too sexy? That’s Trump’s America for you.
4. “I ride on that thing like the cops is behind me“
Any pop song making reference to the police in 2020 should be doing so with a distinct purpose. Sure, this is a funny and quintessentially Cardi quip, but the fleeting image of a POC trying to escape the foot soldiers of a racist establishment still resonates. Kudos.
5. “You ain’t really gotta fuck him for a thing / He already made his mind up before he came”
This is a surprisingly sweet one. After instructing anyone who owns a Wet Ass Pussy to ‘ask for a car while you ride that dick’, Megan seems to correct herself, and reassures you, the listener, that your partner is so utterly smitten that they would give you the world without the need for sexual favours.
6. “I want you to touch that lil’ dangly thing that swing at the back of my throat”
Apparently this is called the ‘uvula’. Although who’s going to remember that when you’re about to get some grade-A D?