cupcakKe Eden

[Self-Released; 2018]

Styles: hip-hop
Others: Awkwafina, Kool Keith, BbyMutha, Khia

On Eden, the Chicagoan rapper cupcakKe returns with a reminder that she proudly fucks more (and better) than the prudes who choose to drag her for her lewdness and hypersexuality. The rapper born Elizabeth Harris isn’t exactly hard to write off; with a stage name that references bukkake, a mixtape titled Cum Cake, and singles like “Juicy Coochie” and “Spider-Man Dick,” her music seems geared more toward the morbidly curious than the genuine rap fan. And yet, cupcakKe prevails. Her previous album, January’s Ephorize, saw critical acclaim and allotted her an influx of new fans, which good fortune spurred her to release her second album of 2018. But Eden isn’t just a cheap victory lap, it’s the fully formed work of an underground rapper brashly making her way into the mainstream.

As with any worthwhile brag-rapper, cupcakKe’s foils are one-dimensional, if not entirely invented. The cast is comprised of absentee mothers who neglect their kids to date for sport, shit-talkers whose stupidity is as gross as the sugar rot in their teeth, and hard-acting men doomed to suffer the same unceremonious fate as “Mussolin[i].” Her ire is highly visceral, coming out in lines like “Your phone on lock on the daily/ Then you wanna play like I’m crazy/ But you got some raggedy ass bitch on your page/ Tryna make me jealous, but that shit don’t faze me” on “Dangled.” Coupled with producer Mike Kalombo’s hard-hitting beats, cupcakKe’s strictures achieve a level of intensity that her flint-voiced trap contemporaries rarely match.

Eden’s greatest asset is cupcakKe’s domineering voice; she wields hooks that effectively complement her verses and maintains a flow that not only justifies but also elevates her puerile sense of humor. The album features no guest verses, resulting in an insular, monophonic set of songs that allows Harris to carefully calibrate her voice to fit the wide berth of subject matter addressed therein. Arrogance is her most prominent shade, an unfailing confidence that bolsters her on tracks like “Fabric” and “Cereal and Water,” but there’s also a valorous bent elsewhere, as on the neurodivergent paean “A.U.T.I.S.M.” that closes Eden. Regardless of the tone of the song, cupcakKe rides on an unrelenting brio throughout Eden’s fast-burning half-hour runtime.

In cultivating a character for the album, Harris casts a wide net. She’s an imperiously hedonistic, scornfully vindictive, surprisingly monogamous young woman who’s equally invested in social progress as she is in locking down someone willing to lick her pussy. And while the record’s title is an explicit reference to the rapper’s middle name, Eden suggests a sense of preeminence; just as Eve was the original woman, cupcakKe herself stands at the front of the pack in the rap game, a self-actualized artist with her own valid claim to originality and primacy.

Most Read