Cardi B performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 6, 2019 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. Getty Images/courtesy

I tried to do a ranked list of the vivid sexual metaphors in Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s new single, “WAP,” but when Cardi busted out “macaroni in a pot” near the end, I instantly forgot all the other ones and had to scrap it.

An initialism so straightforwardly filthy that I can’t unfurl it here, “WAP” – released Aug. 7 to whet appetites for Cardi’s upcoming follow-up to her smash 2018 debut, “Invasion of Privacy” – lays out an astonishing array of boasts and desires from two female rappers proud to follow in the sex-positive footsteps of Lil Kim, Khia, Foxy Brown and Trina.

There’s a line about a big Mack truck and a tight little garage; there’s a line about a garter snake (no, thank you) and a king cobra (yes, please). There’s even a part where Megan interprets the food chain in a way that has forever changed my thinking about bottom-feeders.

Musically, “WAP” doesn’t need much to get over – it’s basically a bass line, a beat and a sampled snippet from an old Baltimore club track, Frank Ski’s “Whores in This House.” But the women’s vocal exuberance is the show – the way they tear into each perfectly rendered lyric and chew up the words like meat.

Their flows are dramatically different, too; Megan’s a sensual growl and Cardi’s a staccato bark. But the personality bursting from each voice – you can easily picture both of them without even seeing “WAP’s” music video, which is a whole other delight – makes clear why the women have quickly become two of hip-hop/pop music’s biggest stars.

Not everyone was so won over by the song.

James P. Bradley, a Republican congressional candidate who’s running to replace California’s Ted Lieu, said that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion “are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure.” He went on to say that “WAP,” which he claimed to have heard “accidentally,” “made me want to pour holy water in my ears.”

A much smarter Twitter user, @BmoreBeloved, took issue with the internet’s outsized reaction to “WAP,” pointing out that Rick Ross and 2 Chainz (who squared off in an Instagram battle) rapped explicitly about sex without causing anywhere near the hubbub that Cardi and Megan did.

“Why?” she asked.

Her question is a good one, of course; it gets at the gendered expectations we have of artists. But as fun as the Ross/Chainz duel was, I’d argue that @BmoreBeloved is underestimating the vibrancy of this particular female duet in relation to this particular male battle.

In other words, “WAP” turned more heads because it’s a much better piece of art.

Also: In an age when the leader of Bradley’s party brags about grabbing women by their private parts, women rapping about their parts carries a political weight that men rapping about theirs doesn’t.

“WAP” could be a terrible song and I’d still cheer the fact of its existence.

As it is, I’m still marveling at macaroni.




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