Perfectly coiled tresses gleam as they perch, intermingled, on the crowns of two dominant rappers. Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B announced their first collaboration “WAP” on Monday with a striking image of the two in follicular cahoots, their tongues unfurled in a textbook Bardi sign of defiance.
Hours before the song dropped at midnight on Thursday, Cardi revealed its title acronym’s triumphantly raunchy meaning to a radio station. Twitter gossip mills, suck on it; these two have us by the WAP.
“WAP” comes straight from the playbook written by Lil’ Kim, and per her blueprint, brandishes its dual protagonists’ sexuality as a weapon. Lyrics hold up a mirror to the music industry’s overt sexualization of women, reflecting it back at us, making the double standard impossible to ignore. The track fades in and out with the title refrain from Frank Ski’s 1993 “There’s Some Whores in This House” and in between, it’s all Cardi and Meg’s dominatrix lacerations. You’re either gonna blush, scream in approval, or become irrevocably aroused when you hear these lyrics.
To what do we owe the noncompliant nastiness of the song and its attendant video, set in a palace of womanly carnality and studded with guest appearances by Normani, Rosalía, and Kylie Jenner? Surely, Meg and Cardi were due for a serious show of artistic strength. “WAP” is Cardi’s first single of 2020 as a lead artist (a.k.a. not billed as a feature), and more importantly, Meg’s first release since her alleged shooting at the hands of Tory Lanez. The incident left her with bullet wounds in both of her feet. Adding insult to injury, the internet showed just how tacky it could be by cracking jokes about a situation that could easily have deprived us of one of hip-hop’s greatest talents.
“Black women are so unprotected & we hold so many things in to protect the feelings of others w/o considering our own,” tweeted a clearly shaken Megan in the aftermath.
But with “WAP,” she and Cardi remind us who holds the power in this artist-fan relationship. Too many shining images from the video clip to go through them all, but here is one that sums the vibe: Cardi in a full split, balanced on two ornate, upholstered chairs. Her hair has been crafted into an authoritative chain by Tokyostylez, and everything is leopard print, down to the carpet and her high neck, breast-baring bodysuit. The actual leopard in the room, somehow, is only a compliment to her leonine prowess.
“WAP” asks us to consider who is the prey in this equation.