One year ago today, the world was blessed with one of the most prolific songs of the ages. Legendary female rappers, Cardi B, hailing from the Bronx, New York and Megan Thee Stallion, a cornbread fed Southern girl, dropped the musical single “WAP (Wet Ass Pussy).” The song begins with the women reciting the refrain “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you fucking with some wet-ass pussy bring a bucket and a mop for this wet-ass pussy, give me everything you got for this wet-ass pussy.” Throughout the entirety of the song, the lyrics are provocative yet direct and all the things I admire about women who openly embrace and express their sexuality. But, of course, as soon as the video was released and the song (with a radio edit version that exchanges “Wet Ass Pussy” for “Wet and Gushy”, which I find much more sexually graphic) hit the airways, WAP caused quite a stir. On the same day that the song was released, former California GOP congressional candidate, James P. Bradley tweeted “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure. Their new ‘song’ The #WAP (which i heard accidentally) made me want to pour holy water in my ears and I feel sorry for future girls if this is their role model!”
Bradley’s comments served as just a few of the blatantly racist and homophobic comments that came spewing from the mouths of men everywhere. Bradley’s comments assumed the stereotype that Black children grow up without fathers in their lives. A gross stereotype that completely fails to assume any responsibility for the unjust overcriminalization of drug use and distribution following the conclusion of the 2nd Great Migration that snatched Black fathers (and mothers just not as often) from their homes and their children throughout the 70s and well into today. Bradley also obviously fails to know that Megan grew up with her father in her life and regards him as her best friend. Another political pundit quipped “My only real concern is that the women involved — who apparently require a ‘bucket and a mop’ — get the medical care they require,” conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, “My doctor wife’s differential diagnosis: bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or trichomonis” — all of which are infections of the vagina.” When I read this response last year, I was left feeling a tremendous amount of sadness for this man’s wife. And then came a criticism from Snoop Dogg, a rapper who in the early 90s produced an album entitled “Doggystyle;” the album cover included a cartoon dog illustration of Snoop standing near a doghouse with cartoon depictions of dog women, with their bare… doggy… voluptuous… buttcheeks exposed on the cover. In an interview with “Central Ave”, Snoop noted “Let’s have some, you know, privacy, some intimacy where he wants to find out as opposed to you telling him.” He went on to add “That’s your jewel of the Nile. That’s what you should hold on to. That should be a possession that no one gets to know about until they know about it.” A remarkably hypocritical statement for a rapper who once said “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks, lick on these nuts and suck the dick, gets the fuck on after you’re done, then I hops in my coupe to make a quick run.”
As the criticisms poured in, I couldn’t understand the reason behind all the kerfuffle. I fell in love with hip hop almost 20 years ago. As such, I’ve heard plenty of men rap about womens’ breasts, hips, thighs and butts for years. Which, quite frankly I have no problem with. The female body is beautiful and should absolutely be celebrated, not just objectified. I was surprised that in 2020, people were so offended by women rapping similarly to all the male rappers I grew up with and adored. Well, I adored them once I was afforded the freedom to listen to hip hop.
As a kid, my parents had some pretty strict rules around the type of music that my sister and I were allowed to listen to. We had the choice between gospel music and sweet bubblegum late 90s pop. However, like any rebellious middle and high schooler, once I was afforded the opportunity to choose my own musical stylings, I wanted the exact opposite of gospel and pop. I wanted pure unadulterated filthy crunk hip hop. Now, first, I want to acknowledge that there are a ton of problematic respectability politics that go into the idea that hip-hop is solely filthy, misogynistic, etc. That’s not where I’m going with this because I believe that hip-hop is the latest iteration of the Black American oral tradition and it should be regarded with respect not contempt.
As soon as I was introduced to hip-hop, I fell in love. From Kanye West’s “College Drop Out” album to Ludacris’s classic “Chicken n Beer”, I couldn’t get enough. But, I most especially fell in love with female rappers. Female rappers had a tendency to embody all the beautiful attributes of black womanhood while also possessing strength that tends to be most closely attributed to masculinity. Female rappers like Missy Elliot, Khia and the queen, Trina seemed to be saying “get you a girl that can do both” and I loved it. I still love it. As I’ve grown older and my tastes have evolved, my love for filthy feminist rap music has not.
So, since they began their careers, I’ve fallen in love with Cardi B and Megan thee Stallion. First, I love almost everything about Cardi B. In the past, she has ruffled some feathers with some problematic statements when in conflict with other people. However, I love her music. I love her attitude. I love her style (especially her makeup). Cardi B, in all of her authenticity in presentation and speech, embodies Black joy. Cardi seems to demand an ousting of performative respectability based in white supremacy and calls for a time of showing up in our truest, most beautiful and blackest forms. Megan, whom I also love, demands the same. Meg is exactly what her name describes, a stallion. Standing at 5’10 inches tall and measuring 36-26-38, Megan is a statuesque Southern belle and one of the hottest lyricists out right now. Adding to her Southern charm, Meg has also attended two Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs), Prairie View A&M and presently, Texas Southern University.
WAP felt like a perfect combination of all the things that I love about hip hop and female rappers. But, it also seemed to go a step further. WAP’s coded yet detailed direction giving language felt quite comparable to the coded yet directive language used in American Negro spirituals of the past.
I was a History major at my HBCU, Delaware State University. In order to graduate in 2012, I had to complete a senior capstone thesis. As a longtime Black Liberationist, even before I had the language to describe myself, I chose to research how the creative arts functioned as a form of revolution and freedom for enslaved Africans in the Americas. An estimated 4 million enslaved Africans were brought to Brazil up until the mid-19th century. During this time, the enslaved utilized the martial art, capoeira, to respond to attacks and acts of injustice by the ruling Portuguese regime. Capoeira, is a martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. In Brazil, capoeira was used by Africans and disguised as simple dancing until it was time to be used to resist, revolt and be freed.
Similarly, enslaved Africans in the U.S. utilized music and the creative arts as a disguise for liberatory action through the Negro spiritual. In the spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, the lyrics go as follows “Follow the drinkin’ gourd, For the old man is comin’ just to carry you to freedom, Follow the drinkin’ gourd, When the sun comes back, and the first quail calls, Follow the drinkin’ gourd, For the old man is waiting just to carry you to freedom, Follow the drinkin’ gourd, For the old man is waiting to carry you to freedom, Follow the drinkin’ gourd, Well the river bank makes a mighty good road, Dead trees will show you the way, Left foot, peg foot, travelin’ on, Follow the drinkin’ gourd, For the old man is waiting to carry you to freedom, Follow the drinkin’ gourd, Well the river ends, between two hills”. Here, the star constellation, The Big Dipper, is represented by “The Drinking Gourd.” “The Old Man” was one of many Underground Railroad captains waiting to guide runaway slaves along the way. “The river’s bank” referenced the Tombigbee river, which empties into the Mobile Bay and extends into the northeastern portion of Mississippi. Many American Negro spirituals provided detailed directions to slaves to lead them along the Underground Railroad and into a life of freedom and liberation. Enslaved persons knew they could not overtly seek liberation and speak of it in song, so, they used the musical arts to spread the good news and directions to liberty.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion provide the same type of clear direction in “WAP” to a group of people who oftentimes struggle to know exactly how to please the female body, cis-het men. If one listens clearly, one can hear “WAP” for what it truly is, a modern day coded yet directive spiritual. In the second verse, Megan provides some clear directions, stating “Your honor, I’m a freak bitch, handcuffs, leashes, switch my wig, make him feel like he cheating, put him on his knees, give him something to believe in, never lost a fight, but I’m looking for a beating (ah), in the food chain, I’m the one that eat ya, if he ate my ass, he’s a bottom feeder.” Similar to the directions provided in “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, Megan provides clear directions about helping her arrive at the point of the sweet liberation and pleasure. “I’m a freak bitch, handcuffs, leashes, switch my wig, make him feel like he cheating.” Here, Megan is clearly asking for some bedroom cosplay, BDSM and role-playing to turn her on. “never lost a fight, but I’m looking for a beating (ah), in the food chain, I’m the one that eat ya, if he ate my ass, he’s a bottom feeder.” Megan goes on to provide further direction. She is inviting her lover to engage her in some rough sex while also engaging in some… well, I think you get exactly what she means by “if he ate my ass, he’s a bottom feeder.” Just like the Negro spiritual, Cardi and Megan are forging a road to liberty and providing clear direction for their people. Meg and Cardi are directing us women and our partners, to a liberated place that most women only reach 61-70% of the time. A liberated place that I only reached for the first time at 29 years old. And, I was so shocked by the liberatory sensation that passed through my body, I pushed my partner away and gasped “What the FUCK was that?” I was overwhelmed and alarmed by the amount of pleasure I felt, it felt like it had to be illegal. I almost called the cops on him. I’m a prison abolitionist.
I think that people should be grateful for this modern adaptation of the Negro Spiritual. I think that people should jump on the freedom train that Meg and Cardi provide us with and ride (literally). I think that Harriet walked so Megan and Cardi B could run.
Well, perhaps that’s taking it a bit far. But, nonetheless, long live WAP.