How Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” signifies a cultural reset that has been long awaited.
“There’s some wh*res in this house, there’s some wh*res in this house-” woah woah woah. Pause the music. This is what the kids are listening to today? Where did such a shockingly explicit song, of such popularity, come from?
Almost all Gen-Zers know WAP at this point. It is no exaggeration to say Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s fire verses in “Wet A*s P*ssy” have caused hype and uproar across America. With those first words in its intro, coupled with a strong bass beat, we all knew we were in for a wild ride. But how did music get to a point where such a song has had this big of a positive impact with the inclusion of such explicit language?
Though not all of Gen-Z is impressed by WAP and do not even get me started on the majority of Millennials and Boomers who can barely handle the intro, and as shocking as this song may be, it didn’t come out of nowhere, and Gen-Zers know that better than anyone.
Gen-Z grew up listening to what we like to call classic 2000’s music (even if it’s not exactly from the 2000’s— it is the music that was popular when we were old enough to listen to actual music) like Flo Rida, Usher, Jason Derulo, Waka Flocka Flame, and more. Essentially, the genre includes most artists with one-hit wonders that we listen to today and scream “OMG I LOVE THIS SONG!”; it is this kind of music, in which we first heard suggestive material. But the difference between that and music today? The explicitness.
Most of these artists’ songs were singing about romance, and the farthest that many of them got were offering dance moves to help attract the opposite. And, by far, the spiciest we got was probably “No Hands” by Waka Flocka which certainly was a bop. But today, male rap artists like Travis Scott, Lil Baby, Gunna, Lil Pump and more, have a different take on how to attract a woman.
While early 2000’s music had no actual descriptions of sex, most popular male rap artists today clearly rap with no shame about what men want women to do to them and what men want to do with women, with verses of vividly explicit language, some of which are simply degrading towards women. Men rapping about favoring toxic societal beauty standards and calling women degrading names; bragging about what they want from women, and what they can make or have made them do. Most of male rapper’s lyrics are bragging about four things: money, fame, drugs and women. Imagine the shift change that could occur if their boasts about women were respectful and empowering, not objectifying.
I listen to this music as much as any teen into rap music, but I’m not immune to the offensiveness of the lyrics towards women. When WAP dropped, I couldn’t help but love it, much to my twin brother’s dismay (and tried my best to memorize the lyrics). My friend Michael calls it “Women against Patriarchy,” and he couldn’t be more right. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s verses discount men’s masculinity by insisting that in fact it is women who are the ones in charge, of both the man and their bodies. They encourage women to take control of their bodies, by letting the man know that they know exactly what they want and they know they can get it. Putting men in this submissive standpoint is a huge gain to our femininity and a huge ego kick for men obsessed with male rap artists spitting bars about what they can make women do. Cardi and Megan said they can do better than that. And they did. And we can.
The only thing that would make WAP better? Some people might say less explicit comments about women taking control over their bodies, but in my opinion? A feature of Nicki Minaj.
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Published by Rita Russo (she/her/they/them)
Rita is a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles studying Psychology and Philosophy. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, playing guitar, reading tarot, and being outdoors. Rita hopes to one day work as a therapist with a focus on alternative and spiritual healing, incorporating other aspects of spiritual practice including tarot reading, meditation, and crystal and chakra healing into therapy.