Intro: Why I love Cupcakke
I’m not original in how I found and fell in love with Cupcakke. Like many, I heard her hit single “Deepthroat” and was instantly enamored. The shameless turned-up-to-eleven sexuality of her lyrics was captivating, and it left me wanting more.
I quickly binged the rest of her discography leading me to a deeper appreciation for her music.
You see, an aesthetic attraction can only get you so far – if Cupcakke was only 3 minutes of choking-on-a-dick lyrics, I would probably lose interest quickly – but Cupcakke’s music gave me more than that.
If I were to detail specifically what it is about her music – which I will for sake of explanation, but do note that there is definitely more at play – I would say it's the poetry of her lines, her phenomenal ability to write multi-syllabic end rhymes, and the lyrical potency of her songs.
But Colin! You may be saying right now. Poetry? Cupcakke is just lyrical pornography! How does that compare to Dickenson, Frost, or Chaucer?
I see Cupcakke as a master of ‘poetry of the line.’ While she certainly succeeds at poetic construction of a song as a whole, and an album as a whole, she truly stands out with individual lines. There’s something so iconically memorable about the opening lines “hump me; fuck me; daddy better make me choke … my tunnel loves to deepthroat,” from “Deepthroat.” Her songs are littered with these moments. They’re shocking; they’re wild; and they’re certainly something I don’t find in other music. The pornographic territory Cupcakke treads in her lyricism opens up wide opportunities for original and refreshing poetry.
On a technical point, I’m obsessed with Cupcakke’s ability to employ multi-syllabic end rhymes. Any Randy on the street can rhyme “heart” with “art,” but Cupcakke goes so much further. Take for example, this line from “Spider-Man Dick,” Rub on my clit it's lit, oh yes my papi love this / I flip this pussy inside out I call that Gabby Douglas.” Cupcakke rhymes “papi love this” with “Gabby Douglas,” matching up four syllables of vowel sounds in slant rhyme. It’s fantastic.
Lastly – and I don’t know a better way to put this – her songs are so dense and compact with lyrics. Cupcakke doesn’t shy away from repetition and a verse chorus verse format, but I might argue that her style of song uses repetition drastically less than other artists. This is augmented by the fact that her choruses often employ fewer words with a slower flow, contrasted against her verses that flow faster with more words. The effect is a nonstop barrage of new lines in every second of the song that just keep topping the ones that came before it. There are rarely points where I find myself thinking “oh boy, another repeat. I’ve hear this too many times. This song should end.”
All in all I adore Cupcakke for artificial reasons and also genuine reasons. So when I learned (five days too late) that Cupcakke had released a new album, Ephorize, I immediately binged it and decided I wanted to detail my adoration for the album.
If you’re looking for a full album overview, please skip to the end of this post.
I will be reviewing this album chronologically. I’ve listened to the entire album once already for initial appreciation, and I will now detail my opinions on each song as I listen to them on second/third try. (I will admit here that I’ve listened to “Duck Duck Goose” at least four times already, and the latter half of the album I have not listened to without slight interruption.) At the end I will provide comment on the album as a whole.
Lastly before I dive into the album, I want to admit that I am not a regular consumer of rap. My personal listening doesn’t venture far from mainstream pop. I’ve dabbled with Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot but not very far otherwise. Because of this, I can’t say with an educated opinion how Cupcakke compares to other rap. I cannot tell if she’s employing time old tricks that exhaust others or if her tactics are unheard of. What I will do is detail what she does that makes me smile and what she does that makes me not smile.
Track 1: “2 Minutes”
Starting out the album we have a more serious number. It’s not boppy; it’s not hyper-sexual; it’s more or less a ballad. It’s a ‘here’s where I’m from’ song.
This is far from a new tactic for Cupcakke, but it definitely enforces a new trend in her album construction. Her debut album Cum Cake opens with “Vagina,” and her sophomore album S.T.D. opens with “Best Dick Sucker.” These two songs are as sexual as their titles suggest. Audacious opens with “Homework Intro” which is more of a power ballad than a song of struggle, and her 2017 album Queen Elizabitch opens with “Scraps,” a song with a tone quite similar to “2 Minutes.”
While “2 Minutes” doesn’t strike me as particularly remarkable, it does a good job reinforcing the fact that Cupcakke is more than just her sex songs. Cupcakke is more than just a stunt or a gimmick. Cupcakke is a serious, multi-faceted artist capable of nuance. The album hints at this already from the toned down aesthetic of the artwork – featuring a headshot of Cupcakke in a winter cotton candy fantasy fur coat as opposed to her more explicit artwork on earlier albums – in addition to the title Ephorize. Choosing to open the album with “2 minutes” drills in the message deeper.
Album Artwork for Cupcakke's Ephorize (via Spin.com)
The song ends with the sound of a heart rate monitor flat lining. This makes sense within the context of the independent song, but as the first song in an album, it left a very odd feeling to me as a listener. I’ve listened to albums where the last song calls back to the first, wrapping up the album full circle, but for a first song to end with a sound so synonymous with finality, evokes something unsettling.
Track 2: “Cartoons”
If this song sounded suspiciously familiar, it may be because Cupcakke released it earlier in the year in November as a single.
I find it hard to treat the song as part of the album knowing of its pre-release. Coming right off “2 Minutes,” “Cartoons” is almost jarring. There’s a tonal disjunction, message disjunction, and a complete instrument set disjunction. But maybe that’s what the flat lining at the end of “2 Minutes" was preparing us for.
The song opens up with some pitched percussion reminiscent of old wind chimes that have gone long out of tune. Alternatively, I might describe them as “Exotic Sounding Percussion Track #4.” The draw of this song is the repeated, consistent, and impressively belligerent name drops and references to cartoon characters in every other line. I feel like this concept combats the back track, but at the same time if Cupcakke were to have sampled old Looney Toons soundtracks, it might have come across as too literal. I certainly don’t have an aesthetic issue with the sound, it fits well to the ear, but I don’t think it elevates the song either.
As for the lines, Cupcakke spits them out at an alarming and impressive rate. This might be her fastest number in the album. I definitely encourage listening multiple times because you will miss something on first listen, and you don’t want to miss out on anything. Cupcakke beautifully mixes the sacred and profane wither her songwriting. She evokes the childhood innocence of old and new cartoons, and in the same line she threatens murder. It’s wonderful.
Here are my favorite lines:
(I have the lines censored because I want readers to listen to the album first before spoiling the lines for themselves. There’s something special about hearing a quippy line for the first time, especially in its original context. Writing it out takes something away from it. Highlight white text below to reveal the lines.)
"No we can't kiss you, can't even kiss feet / With Spongebob Squarepants over your teeth / That yellow, yellow, yellow shit (brush that shit)."
"Fake hoes, we can't buy (nah) / Put the Glock in you like a tampon."
"I'm just in my bag, TSA can't even check this."
Track 3: Duck Duck Goose
So i've already admitted that i'm mildly obsessed with this song. It's probably my favorite track on the album. Here are a couple of reasons why.
The track opens with a fun little synth track and some claps. On next phrase repeat, the same synth track is doubled up a perfect fourth. Take a seat Bach, it's gonna be a fun ride (#VoiceLeadingHumor).
Right off the bat we have this great opening line that makes me wildly uncomfortable: "I thought I came, but I peed on the dick," followed up with an equally jarring, "pubic air got inches, that's weave on the dick." (note the clear use of epistrophe, Dr. Armstrong. One of these days I'll have you convinced that Cupcakke is poetry).
There are many instances in her discography of Cupcakke slanting her sexual lines into a place of disgusting, much like the tagline of Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova, "80 percent sexy; 20 percent disgusting." For Cupcakke though, it seems more like 30-70. This isn't Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty." This is next level disgusting.
I'm not sure if the amount the Pre-Chorus makes me uncomfortable is points towards the song or against the song, but I absolutely hate it.
(On a side note, Cupcakke uses the word "can" in the Pre-Chorus, but the affect she puts on is so strong that I initially thought she was using the word "can't" on the first few listens which drastically changes the song.)
I don't have much else to say other than this song is good fun. The track is fun, the lines are all fun, and it just makes me want to dance.
Here are my favorite lines, which is like, most of the song:
"Climbing on that dick, need a 10 feet ladder."
"My nudes in your phone, takin' up your data."
"Pussy on punishment if she miss a dick appointment."
"I only call you Captain, 'cause your dick is off the hook."
"Twat so wet, you could take a cruise on it."
"This that submarine pussy, Mr. Clean pussy / This that I'm 'bout to fuck you longer than the limousine pussy / High self-esteem pussy, it's a dream pussy / If you broke, then the pussy actin' funny like a meme pussy." Again Dr. Armstrong, note the epistrophe.
"Easy-Bake Oven, and this pussy so similar ... Nut in my pussy hair, that's deep conditioner."
"This pussy iconic, get moan with me."
"Coochie guaranteed to put you to sleep so damn soon / Ridin' on that dick, I'm readin' Goodnight Moon."
Track 4: Wisdom Teeth
This track opens with what I might describe as “Exotic Sounding Woodwind Synthesizer #7.” This is probably because, in American culture, the concept of 'wisdom' is often associated with the idea of an archetypal enlightened hermit guru sitting atop a mountain. In like, Nepal.
I don't think this vindicates the exoticism, but Cupcakke is clearly tapping into the trope.
So Cupcakke opens the track with this synth track and it sets the scene for what I assumed was going to be a fun little diddy coming off of "Duck Duck Goose." Maybe she's going to go literal with "Wisdom Teeth" like a sequel to "Deepthroat."
Nope. This song is aggressive.
Continuing with the trend of lines that shock me on first listen, Cupcakke opens "Wisdom Teeth" with the line "I bury a nigga before I bury the hatchet." This split-zeugma (are you buying it now, Dr. Armstrong?) sets up a theme of pride over forgiveness that Cupcakke doesn't really develop through out the rest of the track. She touches on it, but the 'here's where I'm from' theme' comes back and takes over with lines like, "Excuse my ratchet / I remember 20 degrees without no jacket."
On first listen I really enjoyed the Chorus of, "I'm real wise when I speak / I'm usin' my wisdom teeth." On second listen I thought it was really cheesy. On subsequent listens I became unsure. I'm not decided.
This definitely isn't a song that'd I'd casually seek out to listen, but it's also not a song I'd skip when listening through the album for another time.
Here are my favorite lines:
"Real talk, my voice would be hoarse if it was horseshit."
"Got these bitches on edge like got2b glue."
(I will be reviewing tracks 5-15 in due course. Stay tuned)