Over the course of two mixtapes and two studio albums, the Chicago rapper CupcakKe (real name Elizabeth Eden Harris), has gained recognition for her notoriously explicit lyrics (for a prime example, see her 2015 song ‘Deepthroat’). But with her latest album, Ephorize, CupcakKe makes it properly known that she's more than a raunchy rapper and a force to be reckoned with in a musical landscape overflowing with top notch hip-hop. We have a feeling 2018 is going to be the year CupcakKe prospers.
Just like how you can identify other rappers like Missy Elliot with her slight nasal twang or Lauryn Hill with her soul, CupcakKe has a distinct voice of her own that's full of gusto and authority. Her voice and verses fill her songs such that the instrumental sections of her songs sound almost bare without her. That's not surprising, considering the straightforwardness of her lyrics. More modest listeners might find it hard to swallow CupcakKe's wordplay, but that's exactly why her fans love her. On her "slurpers", as she's dubbed them, expect nothing but gritty and blunt depictions of sex and the raw female body.
Like the best of lyricists, there's substance aplenty in CupcakKe's songs. In many of her songs, the rapper has spoken up about issues close to the heart of the LGBT community. On ‘LGBT’, a track off her first studio album Audacious, she raps about the community’s strength in unity and the kickback that comes with attacking anyone in the community — an attack on one is an attack on everyone.
Don't judge a lesbian, 'cause she don't want you back, man (woo)
Judge one of the gays, they drag you from Z to A (they will)
And shout out to the bi's, you ain't gotta pick a side (nope)
And if you in the closet, shorty, you ain't gotta hide (come out)
On Ephorize, the track ‘Crayons’ continues that thread.
Boy on boy, girl on girl
Like who the f*** you like
F*** the world
CupcakKe's journey to being the rapper she is today wasn't easy — in the opening track of Ephorize, titled ‘2 Minutes’, she captures the fear and realities of living as a black person in America by rapping about the volatility of life and how easily it can be snuffed out.
Reminding you to count your blessings (Got to)
'Cause some ain't make it to they breakfast
In the same song, she raps about the urgency of getting things done for herself — acknowledging the pursuit of independence with the cut-throat struggles that it poses.
It was days I dreamed of money
But I woke up broke instead (Why?)
Maybe that's my fault, I shouldn't sleep until I'm dead (I'm woke)…
Be a better bitch than them bitches out there
And her lyrics will stay raw and raunchy for as long she stays independent. She's told Complex about her refusal to censor herself: “A label will be like, ‘Hey you’ve got to sugarcoat this line, you’ve got to sugarcoat that down’, I’m not sugarcoating nothing.” That said, that doesn't mean that a record deal is completely off the table. According to The Fader, she’s said that if the deal is right, she'll be up for it.
For a 21-year-old, CupcakKe's maturity in her music exceeds way beyond her peers. Though you would think her outsized persona might bleed into real life, she's shown in many interviews that she keeps the "freaky" in the studio as CupcakKe while in everyday life, Elizabeth stays as real and as grounded as it gets. But whether it’s being an empowered sexual goddess, or an ally to the queer community, or simply herself, CupcakKe has earned all her credits by speaking her truth.
Listen to Ephorize here: