Name a more iconic and dynamic duo than Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. They took the internet by storm with their overnight sensation, “WAP,” which was trending on Twitter, Instagram and even TikTok after its release in August. “WAP” not only exemplifies their musical talent, as it topped Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 with record first-week streams, but it also highlights two women in the music industry empowering each other ─ a rarity in an industry that pins artists against one another for profit.
According to Billboard, “WAP” marked Cardi B’s fourth hit song on the Billboard Hot 100 and Megan Thee Stallion’s second. From the song’s release date on August 7 to August 13, the song was streamed over 90 million times in the United States alone. This was the first song to ever amass such large streaming in the first week of its release, Billboard announced. “WAP” has remained in the No. 1 spot for over three weeks.
Lyrics ranging from implicit references to sex to stating illicit sexual desires, “WAP” is a lyrical masterpiece that is borderline pornographic. Bars about “bottom feeders,” “king cobras” and “big Mack trucks” are among a few of the most remarkable sexual innuendos in the song — all of which describe preferences and activities for under the covers. At one point, Cardi B explicitly states that she wants someone to “touch the little dangly dang” that swings in the back of her throat ─ her uvula, of course. Always clever with her lyrics, Cardi B uses phrases, such as “macaroni in a pot,” a sound that we all can relate with, to describe the sound of female genitalia. If sexual innuendos were not enough, the repetition of what “WAP” stands for can be heard throughout the entire three minutes and eight seconds of the song.
While the lyrics are accompanied by basic beats, the real artistry is displayed by the women themselves through their wit, creativity and the imagery that saturates both the lyrics and the music video. Everything that Hugh Hefner wanted to accomplish with Playboy in his lifetime, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion trumped in less than four minutes.
The video featured a mansion full of rooms with different themes of pleasure and even had cameos from several other female artists, including Normani, Rosalia, Mulatto, Sukihana and Rubi Rose — a noteworthy display of female empowerment. “WAP” is a testament that women in the music industry are not in endless cycles of drama and is a beautiful display of independent Black women dominating the industry in unity, which is far from the typical narrative portrayed by the media.
“WAP” challenged the status quo for female artists, regarding the lyrics and even the sex-positive video that expressed and displayed women’s sexuality and libido. Dressed in erotic clothing, these women radiated confidence, sensuality and independence, which appear to be central themes in the video.
Naturally, “WAP,” despite being extremely popular upon release, had its fair share of critics.
The most notable criticism came from the decision to use beauty mogul Kylie Jenner in a silent cameo, which left fans confused and speechless. The ‘Rise and Shine’ Instagram influencer really missed the mark with this guest appearance. As she strutted down the hall of the mansion and the beat dropped, fans, myself included, were left anticipating her debut into the music industry; however, we were left with the clicks of her heels as she opened a door and never appeared in the video again ─ seemingly preoccupied with the contents of the mysterious room. Fans were enraged as the Kardashian-Jenner clan profits off of Black culture and suggested that another Black, female artist or activist should have replaced Jenner in the video. Jenner reposted a tweet that detailed potential reasoning behind her guest appearance stating that people would question why she was in the video and subsequently watch the video to find out. Cardi B was quick to defend her selection of Jenner in a tweet that has since been deleted.
Another critique that many had about the hit song was the abundance of sexual imagery. In an industry dominated by men, women who openly display their sexuality unaccompanied by a man are often subjected to criticism. While countless men have dedicated entire songs to sexual experiences or had bars far more explicit than those seen in “WAP”, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion received an overwhelming amount of criticism over claims that the song was too vulgar and crude. Interestingly enough, more people appeared to be outraged by women exploring their own sexuality and expressing their own desires than by any song produced by a male artist covering the same topic: women as sexual beings.
The double standard in the music industry regarding the depiction of women is appalling and even if I found “WAP” to be too explicit, which I did not, I would still support the collaboration simply over the fact that they are capitalizing on their sexuality unapologetically, which is exactly what many male artists do, and they are empowering other women in the process. Personally, I enjoyed the song ─ handcuffs, leashes and all.