Cardi B’s WAP Wasn’t The Only Song To Get Us Talking In 2020
Summer of 2020 was one full of hope, unbridled optimism and arguably ignorant joy.
After months of isolation defined by livestream concerts and unglamorous lockdown performances, the world slowly opened back up to allow artists to leave their bedrooms — but we quickly found out they didn’t want to.
Cardi B spearheaded the horny, women-centric theme that would come to define the second half of the year with her chart-topping single WAP. Teaming up with Megan Thee Stallion, whose unapologetically sexual raps have accelerated her status from college student to A-lister in just two years, was a stroke of empowered genius.
From the moment the opening sample declared ‘There’s some whores in this house’, the world collectively gasped in awe of the celebrated filth that follows for three whole minutes. From ‘Bring a bucket and a mop’ to ‘Macaroni in a pot’, every line is more raunchy, hilarious and charged than the last. I mean, ‘Gobble me, swallow me, drip down the side of me’? Rent free.
Of course, two women coming together with power to inject humour into sex instead of feeding neither the male gaze nor the accompanying ego rubbed people the wrong way. The usual outraged reactions from politicians and parents afraid of at-home sex education were seemingly dialled up because this was also two Black women taking charge.
Cardi and Megan being two powerful, rich Black women in their twenties was threatening to some. Cardi also being a mother only added to the trolls’ shaming, which is an interesting insight to what many still believe women’s bodies (and their WAPs, more specifically) are suitable for.
Regardless of the incessant shaming, WAP spent multiple weeks at number one in the US, UK, Australia and more. It broke the Billboard chart record for the most first-week streams in US chart history (93 million in total). It also extended Cardi’s record as the female rapper with most US number ones, and was the first rap collaboration to debut at number one.
Last week, BBC News declared it the most-acclaimed song of 2020, but beyond any critical praise or chart record, its cultural impact is what’s most notable. WAP inspired important conversations around sexuality in rap, consent and female empowerment, among other things. It also inspired (and potentially even liberated) other women in music to drop their most brazenly sexual songs to date.
Ariana Grande released five albums prior to Positions, but none were as horny. The pop princess emerged from quarantine with sex on the brain and her music reflected it. Lead single positions is an ode to, well, switching up positions in the bedroom, while its follow-up 34+35 is an entire song dedicated to one position in particular (do the maths). Like WAP, 34+35 is playful and witty, but Ariana makes it clear she is both in control and, importantly, enjoying it.
Elsewhere in the pop sphere this year, Miley Cyrus declared her desire for no-strings-attached sex, Little Mix asked for all-night passion, and Dua Lipa took ownership of all things Physical across her Future Nostalgia album with new confidence. Some of these songs pre-date WAP, but they have all co-existed on our 2020 playlists to let it be known women won’t be shamed for having sex anymore.
Megan Thee Stallion’s wink-wink to the fragile male ego in WAP explains why so many people had a problem with it: ‘If he f*ck me and ask ‘Whose is it?’/When I ride the d*ck, I’mma spell my name’.
Just like the way not everybody possessed Big D*ck Energy in 2018, women in music this year made it clear Wet Ass P*ssy isn’t for anybody but the owner.
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