Female rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have faced floods of attention and criticism for the sexually explicit nature of the pair’s latest collaborative piece, “WAP,” after its release Aug. 7.
Despite the song being No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list and having the most weekly streams in 2020, some critics — such as artist CeeLo Green and conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro — are less focused on the song’s impressive success and more on its provocative nature.
Having now apologized for his statements, in an interview with Far Out Magazine, Green discussed the female rappers and compared their “salacious gesturing” to artist Nicki Minaj. He said he understands promoting independent women and sexual expression, but questions at what cost.
On his daily podcast, Shapiro actually read aloud some of the song’s “vulgar” lyrics, all while mocking the words and sarcastically calling the song “deeply empowering.” Shapiro furthered his criticism with a sarcastic list of things the song does not do to women.
“It’s not demeaning to women in any way. It doesn’t turn women into sex objects. It doesn’t make men think of women in a purely sexual fashion. It is women empowering themselves, it is super empowerment,” Shapiro said.
Is “WAP” a new level of raunchiness in today’s music industry, or has sex been present in music for years and the idea of women expressing their sexuality is too jarring for critics like Shapiro and Green?
In 2018, a collaboration between male rappers Kanye West and Lil Pump called, “I Love It,” also left its mark as No. 6 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 list and No. 1 on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart, according to Billboard’s website. The song is also very sexual, and includes a breakdown from Kanye chanting “I’m a sick f—, I like a quick f—.”
Elena Cruz-Lopez, a Ph.D. student in musicology, said women have incorporated sex into their music for a long time now.
“I think it has to do with people not being comfortable still with women expressing their sexuality in such an explicit way,” Cruz-Lopez said.
One such example is blues singer Lucille Bogan, whose version of “Shave ’Em Dry” in 1924 includes the lyrics, “Got somethin’ ‘tween my legs’ll make a dead man come!” and her other songs donned sexually explicit themes as well, according to All About Blues Music’s website.
Cruz-Lopez said she does not think people’s negative reactions toward sexually explicit songs from female rappers will change anytime soon, but having an open mind about the topic will help.
“The more sex positive people there are, I think the better things will be,” Cruz-Lopez said.
Ohio State alum Nick Myers said he likes the song and is unbothered by the lyrics.
“Music nowadays has definitely got some vulgar parts to it and some strong language, but I think that’s totally fine, it’s just somebody expressing themselves,” Myers said.
Myers said as far as the music industry goes, he believes there could be many reasons as to why the song has faced so much negative criticism from men. One reason being the expectations some men have for women to be modest and a role model.
“A guy can sleep with however many women he wants, but then if a girl does that she’s called a slut or something, but there’s no name for that for a guy,” Myers said.