Since the overtly-sexual pussy anthem “WAP” dropped from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, there has been much debate on and offline about how appropriate the song is. My own mother, as an off-and-on fan of Cardi and sort-of fan of Meg, even called me to discuss her feelings about this song and music video. I explained to her the ways in which her interpretation of the video — it being “too much,” which is code for slutty — was a double standard. Myself as a fan of rap music and a feminist, “WAP” is pretty much standard fare to me, as far as its very sexual subject matter is concerned. I’ve listened to approximately a million rap songs about how big rappers believe their dicks are, so to hear a woman talking about her pussy openly to me was just parity.
But from my mother, whom I tout as sexually liberal for various reasons, it is still striking to hear her mostly aghast reaction toward the song’s sentiment.
Men’s sexuality is the default in media and society. Most everyone knows about what gets men going, what men like, what gets dicks hard simply by existing in society because it is normalized. Men’s sexual experiences are normalized. Which is why for just about all of the songs that follow by male rappers, there was largely an acceptance, even ignorance of just how sexual they really were at the peak of their popularity.
Let’s take a walk through some of the most sexually abrasive lyrics by male rappers to prove this point.
“Baby Got Back,” Sir Mix-A-Lot
‘Cause I’m long, and I’m strong / And I’m down to get the friction on […]
My anaconda don’t want none / Unless you’ve got buns, hon
Ah yes, one of the first mega-successful sexual anthems for a male rapper. I’d like to state that I sang this song proudly as an 8-year old with my friends. Consider that again, I was singing this att 8 years old. Not even understanding fully what each euphemism meant, but knowing that it was sexual. The song is even complete with a signature whiplash sound.
The music video for this song was iconic for Sir Mix-A-Lot dancing on a Black woman’s butt, to really ram home what this song was about. The “anaconda” line was infamously sampled and flipped by another female rap titan, Nicki Minaj, in 2014’s “Anaconda.” People had the same discussions about Nicki’s song back then as they are about Cardi’s now. The significance of Nicki’s particular sex anthem was that she, as a Black woman, was reclaiming her sexuality from the Black male gaze, flipping an anthem about Black female bodies to an anthem about her own body and desire for Black men.
“Back That Azz Up,” Juvenile
Them titties sittin’ nice, yeah, I want to bite, yeah
I could fuck you right, yeah, all night, yeah
Want to bring it to my house, yeah, on the couch, yeah
Knock the pussy out, yeah, get them out, yeah
I want to see these hoes, yeah, bend it low, yeah
Let me run it in the hole, yeah, and let me know, yeah
Beat the dick like a motherfuckin’ drummer chick
A Negro spiritual among Black folks, this will send any Black woman in a hysterical twerk fever if it starts playing just about anywhere. (I started listening to it as I wrote this and needed to stop to shake my own ass).
And! This song is so nasty! This song is one of the first I can remember where the clean version of the song really helped to mask how dirty it is. Because as a kid, I could only make out some of the lyrics Juvenile was saying, and what I could make out was chopped up or euphemistic, as so many of the songs that follow are. And yet, despite its sexual lyrics, this song still enjoys regular airplay on hip hop stations across the nation, without controversy.
“Get Low,” Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz
Taking the clothes off, buckey naked
ATL hoe, don’t disrespect it
Pa pop, yo, pussy like this
‘Cause Yin Yang Twins in this bitch
Lil Jon and the East side boys wit
And we all like to see ass and tities
Now, bring yo ass over here, hoe
To the window, to the wall
Till the sweat drop down my balls
All you bitches, crawl
I hate to break it to some of you, but this song is about penile ejaculation. The “skeet skeet skeet” we all remember from middle school dances? Yeah, that’s about sperm. Lil Jon, the godfather of crunk, had a reputation of producing hits in the aughts that made people go primal on the dance floor. This song was absolutely no exception. Once again, the clean version of the song did a number on the explicit nature of the hooks.
“Grind With/On Me,” Pretty Ricky
Lights out with a cherry thong / Eat her up like a sundae cone
Orgasin’ moanin’ / You got me open / Love john is strokin’
No joking / Coochie swollen
The barrel smoking / Get some air up in this room girl
Ah ah ah
This song is actually called “Grind On Me.” But with a careful change of a conjunction, from “on” to “with,” the song’s meaning changed to be palatable for radio airplay. The dirty version of this song is so sensual — it’s a mid-tempo R&B song about getting down and dirty with a lover. Just watch this choreography to the song to get an idea of how steamy it is. Hearing men describe in delicious detail what they would do to a woman in the bedroom was standard fare for early-to-mid aughts Black boy bands. Pretty Ricky give us this timeless slow jam/banger that would fit easily into any lovemaking playlist.
The striking thing about this song is the way the men describe how their actions cause a favorable reaction from their lady lovers — particularly, a swollen coochie. Sound familiar?
“Splash Waterfalls,” Ludacris
You better not of came, she want to feel the pain
Then hear her scream your name, what? (fuck, me!)
Follow this DICK-tionary, you’re both some visionaries
Then do it missionary, say it (make love to me)
I hear ’em call the wild, and do it all the while
Doggy and froggy style, what? (fuck, me!)
The most euphemistically similar song to “WAP,” the “waterfall” in question is that of the vagina of Ludacris’ sex partner(s). Similar to the above, Luda saw it as a trophy to make a woman’s genitals extra wet. The entire song is hella dirty; after every single line, a female voice says either “make love to me” or “fuck me.” This song tells the story that sex is something that Luda wants to give to a woman in the way that he sees fit.
“Laffy Taffy,” D4L
Girls call me Jolly Rancher / Cause I stay so hard
You can suck me for a long time…Oh my God!
You got my dick hard / The way you touch them toes
Workin’ them micros / On the stilletos
You made it skeet skeet skeet / Like a water hose (candy girl)
Ah yes another song I remember everyone losing it to at middle school dances. And the Laffy Taffy in question was A S S. This song, like many on this list, romanticizes the strip club as a center for the pleasure of men. While that reading of the strip club isn’t necessarily incorrect, it further reinforces the longest running trope in rap: that women, namely Black women, are loved only for what their bodies have the capacity to do to a man’s dick.
“Candy Shop,” 50 Cent
Wanna show me how you work it baby? No problem, get on top
Then get the bouncin’ ’round, like a lowrider
I’m seasoned vet when it come to this shit
After you work up a sweat you can play with this stick
Oh yes. Another candy-coated rap song about sex. Similar to the previous song, there is more fantasy about bagging a stripper (I’ll have you spendin’ all you got / Keep going til you hit the spot), a theme that seemed to permeate rap of the millennium (and still today). So much of rap by men is centered on spending thousands on beautiful women dancing at strip clubs for their pleasure, and taking said women home for their private enjoyment. The primary recognition and praise for women comes in relation to their bodies, and in a situation where women have no choice but to smile and give them what they want as a customer service. This attitude continues outside of strip clubs as well, with men rating women only insofar as they can pleasure them.
“Lollipop,” Lil Wayne
Man I ain’t never seen an ass like hers
That pussy in my mouth had me lost for words
So I told her to back it up, like berp berp
And I made that ass jump, like jerp jerp, and that’s when she
Sh, sh, she lick me, like a lollipop
The closest counterpart to “WAP” I’d say, you couldn’t escape Lollipop in 2008. Yet one more song helped by the radio version (though not much), we all sang repetitively about how much Lil Wayne wanted his dick sucked….as freshmen in high school. As with other rap songs, there is an inherent domination factor at play with the lyrics. The woman Wayne is rapping about is “asking” for everything that he has to give — thuggishness, sexual prowess, and a big dick, unlike the other men she’s been messing with. Therefore, he so graciously decides to give her what he feels she wants.
“Truffle Butter,” Nicki Minaj, Drake, & Lil Wayne
Truffle butter on your pussy
Cuddle buddies on the low
You ain’t gotta tell your friend
That I eat it in the morning
She became a vacuum
Put it on my dick like carpet
Suck the white off like chocolate
Yes, this is a woman’s song, but I want to focus on Lil Wayne’s verse. It sticks out from the other verses by his Young Money counterparts because it is about fucking. Which I guess is fitting, since the song is called truffle butter, slang for those sticky fluids from both parties involved in anal sex. This time, he rapped about sex of the quickie variety, sneaking it in here and there because he just can’t get enough of the pussy.
Oh, and before the white people reading this get to shaking their heads about how sexist those Black rappers are, please read this piece about how many of the same sexist narratives were told in countless songs by white pop punk/emo bands in the aughts decade and beyond.
In doing “research” for this piece, I happened upon the Ludacris song entitled “Ho.” In this song, Luda describes his definition of a ho(e) and the particulars of “ho tendencies.” The song features a woman who scolds the rapper for calling her a hoe, remarking that he wasn’t calling her such “last night,” alluding of course to the two of them having sex. The song ends with Ludacris telling the “ho” to come to him, teasing of course that while Luda gives hoes shit, he does see their (sexual) value at the end of the day.
This is what makes the backlash — from men and women alike — against “WAP” so frustrating and sexist. If women were truly seen as equal participants in sex with men, this song wouldn’t cause such an uproar. And yet, the pushback persists because society largely views sex as something that women simply receive — something that happens to them. Something that they are supposed to accept from men without question, suggestion, or commentary. Hell, we go as far as to tell women that cat calls from men on the street should be appreciated because it means that men find us attractive and yes, fuckable. This attitude is why rape continues overwhelmingly with men as perpetrators and women as victims; the idea that women should be passive recipients of sex, and that any vocality about it to the man gifting it to you is forbidden.
Male rappers have, for decades, promoted an impossible dichotomy of ideal femininity: the virgin/whore dynamic. They’ve profited from rapping about us as objects to be won, to be fucked, to throw money at. And in the next breath, they call women whores for engaging in the very activities they rap about — that they claim to love from women. We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Ludacris can both want a “lady in the street and a freak in the bed,” without leaving room for the two characteristics to overlap or exist in the opposing context.
So with the number of female rappers growing in popularity every year, men are becoming threatened by women’s open discussion of sex. Particularly, their own experiences and expectations of the men they fuck around with. Society is threatened when women become the owners of their sexuality, because it means that women may start to demand more than a simple 15 strokes from a man until he comes. It may mean that women may have to matter in sexual encounters, and that men are no longer the only ones setting the terms and conditions of sex. For the rap genre, male rappers are threatened by women rapping about sex. Because making music about sex with thumping basslines has made women twerk and literally fuck with them for years, if women rappers begin to corner into this market, it may mean that female fans will figure out that they don’t need men to feel sexy. Indeed, it means that women can start to feel their own sexual power because they can more directly relate to a woman’s point of view. In short, it means that men are not, nor were they ever, the gatekeepers of sex.
Perhaps people are most jarred by the fact that Cardi isn’t attempting to be euphemistic about what she’s rapping about, unlike many of her male counterparts above. As the public knows by now, Cardi is not the subtle type. Indeed, in her own words, she’s a “certified freak, seven days a week.” It shouldn’t be a problem for her to be blunt about this, as men in the rap game have never — and I mean never — been shy about it. Women aren’t moving backwards, only forwards. So that means y’all will deal with us talking about sex and our pussies because we’re no longer accepting sexual repression. The sausage fest is over.
Punani Dasani, 4ever.