I Meant To Listen To: Cardi B (Featuring Megan Thee Stallion), “WAP”

While I am not trying to add yet another voice in the endless void of These Unprecedented Times™, it has been a strange challenge to find your purpose in this whole mess. Days have melted into each other, time has no meaning, and I’m just grateful that I don’t live in an area that has the summer sun shining all day. Pair all this with growing turmoil and this has not been a fun time at all. 

In a year with little to enjoy, something recently has grown in not only popularity, but also notoriety. The clamor over the last few weeks about the collaboration between Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion has taken over nearly every square inch of the internet. Normally I don’t dive into these things, as I am completely in the wrong demographic, but I really enjoy the work of Megan Thee Stallion and I find Cardi B to be supremely entertaining.

Before today I had not listened to “WAP”. I wanted to find the right moment to listen to it. When something has a grip of the social climate to the extent that this song has, I wanted to give it my full attention, and, comically, often in my case two to three weeks after it’s peak of popularity. I had even considered the idea of filming myself doing one of those “reaction” style videos, but I thought better of it. For one, I really don’t get too amped up about anything like in those videos so I didn’t like the idea of having a false “turned-up-to-eleven” reaction to the song for the camera, and more importantly, I just didn’t really want to do it.

But thanks to the meme-ification of everything and to my entry-level sleuthing skills, I was able to deduce what WAP meant without the need to “react”. It turns out that it’s an acronym and sadly not a tribute to the legendary star of the People’s Court, Judge Joseph Wapner.

If you have been living under a dry-ass rock you have probably been made aware of “WAP”, a vivid tune of wild debauchery complete with a thick bassy beat and great performances by both Cardi and Stallion. I never dove into much of Cardi B’s work, but a few months ago I got turned onto Megan Thee Stallion’s Tina Snow and have been thoroughly entertained ever since.

I had been told many times over the last few weeks that I’d be shocked by the content contained within “WAP”. Is it raunchy? Yes, in a very over-the-top way, but shocking? Not really. As someone who grew up in the suburbs in the 90’s listening to anything I could possibly consider gangsta rap, anything sexual with a beat and rhyme scheme doesn’t move the needle these days personally. 

Yet it’s still so surprising that there was so much blowback because evidently it’s horrible that these rapping women are being so vulgar. Again, I’m no expert, but history will show that this is nothing new in the genre, as artists such as Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliott, Salt ’N’ Pepa, and countless others have unapologetically stood their ground and waved the flag for sexual liberation.

And I’m eternally thankful for that. 

As somebody who loves and wants to celebrate all genres of music, I shy away from being overtly critical about things because I am admittedly just a murmur in the sea of commentary and I am not intelligent enough to be constructively critical on a level that would demand attention.

I’m just tired of dudes who look like me telling people who don’t look like me what is acceptable or not.

Did I enjoy listening to “WAP”? Absolutely. I am happy to see it alongside the MC Lyte’s “Ruffneck”, and Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” that I grew up with and never realized the powerful message contained within. I think it’s great that this particular song at this particular time could empower somebody. All the better in my opinion. 

Anytime the conversation about feminine sexual empowerment comes up, I will always be reminded of the credo of the late Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan Helen Gurley Brown: to be sexy, feel sexy. Whether that includes a bucket and a mop, or sounds like macaroni in a pot, own it and never apologize.

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