Cardi B’s “WAP” Misses the Mark

Cardi B broke the internet on Friday, August 7 with her new song and video “WAP.” Featuring Megan Thee Stallion, the song serves as a comeback for both of them.

“WAP” has ignited controversy for many reasons, but its lyrical content is the most conspicuous of the bunch. While sexual subject matter is nothing new for either rapper, they abandon past metaphors and double entendres in favor of a literal approach. There’s nothing wrong with this in theory, but the song coasts solely on shock value. It worked, though: a Republican congressional candidate’s Twitter rant gave them free publicity, and the video is trending on YouTube:

Although Cardi and Megan’s prior hits were full of catchy hooks and Instagram caption-ready lyrics, both are largely absent here. The straightforward verses are a missed opportunity for them to show off their wordplay, which they’ve weaved with their sexuality in the past. The Frank Ski sample gets old quickly, and Megan outshines Cardi on her own song.

However, while Cardi often faces accusations of ghostwriting, it’s completely believable that she wrote her own verses here. One line goes, “I want you to touch that li’l dangly thing that swings in the back of my throat,” which is the trademark brazenness that only Cardi B could pull off. Also, as we’ve come to expect from the Bronx rapper, the video’s visuals are stunning. It’s rare that a music video feels like an event anymore, but her surrealist Dr. Seuss take on the Playboy Mansion is truly something to behold. Carole Baskin of Tiger King infamy decried Cardi’s use of big cats in the video, despite their addition in post-production with a green screen. This seemingly random feud most likely began when Cardi defended Baskin’s archenemy Joe Exotic earlier this year.

Mostly featuring up-and-coming artists such as Normani, Rosalía, and Mulatto, the “WAP” video’s main attraction is Kylie Jenner. Her cameo spawned memes as well as backlash, including a petition to remove her from the video. Besides looking out of place, signees cited her cultural appropriation and alleged mocking of Megan Thee Stallion’s shooting injuries as reasons.

Contrary to many “WAP” critics’ complaints, the problem doesn’t necessarily lie in the song’s raunchiness, Kylie Jenner inclusion, or use of exotic animals, but how one-dimensional it is. Cardi and Megan have always been outspoken about their sexuality in their music, but they supplemented it with other aspects of their personality and artistry. Compared to “I Like It”’s trap-salsa genius and “Savage”’s boasts of complexity, “WAP” feels lifeless, uninspired, and derivative of their peers.

Cardi B’s second studio album is set for release later this year.

Comments are closed.