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 Friday 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 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 on Thursday night) 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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