CupcakKe; Queen Elizabitch (2017) Review

File Apr 25, 9 40 49 PM
Queen Elizabitch by Tre Simmons

Often in music, one thing we can parse from a song’s title is some kind of implicit meaning that will be mirrored within the song’s lyrics. More creative or less obvious artists often use titles to offer footnotes, extend a story or simply place non-sequiturs into the canons of their craft. Cupcakke (Elizabeth Harris), a rapper from Chicago, utilized the latter strategy to obfuscate the meanings of her song titles when separated from the context of an individual song’s lyrics on her most recent album, Queen Elizabitch. She mentioned the act of doing so on her lively Twitter feed in the buildup to releasing her new album, and said album does not disappoint in offering meanings that can’t clearly be deciphered from title alone. This, along with often vulgar lyrics and a light/dark contrast in song production across the album lead to moving feminist ideology across the course of the twelve tracks offered up on Queen.

Most of the songs with weightier subjects have a juxtaposition of minor key, minimalistic beats paired with blaring synths and dense wordplay. For example, on opener “Scraps,” the Kill Bill siren sounds off, leading into lyrics that skim across several human rights and social justice issues. Cupcakke lets off lines such as “remember times I ain’t have a dime, me and bestfriend sharing clothes,” and, “dark skin or light skin, you still African-American, society got y’all fucked up, y’all out here comparing skin,” which in a brief burst of words helps you recognize not only a small glimpse into Cupcakke’s past with her struggles in poverty as well as her keen knowledge and insight on colorism, or discrimination in the black community (from both black and non-black citizens) on the basis of how light or dark one’s skin is. She acknowledges all of these issues and more across many of the songs here, such as a detailed view of her homelessness of “Reality Pt. 4,” body positivity on “Biggie Smalls” and sex positivity on just about every song here.

The sex positivity is a large part of Cupcakke’s appeal; simply put, the vulgarity she puts into her songs is charming, and empowering. Nowhere on Queen is there a moment where one can or should be blamed for experiencing life vividly through sexual encounters, which more often than not is a part of a young person’s life. She espouses these ideas through tales of her own sexual proclivities, and though she has mentioned that her songs paint her to be more sexual than she is in real life, it allows her audience and herself to find strength in pursuing what they want (consensually, of course.) Cupcakke and Queen Elizabitch do a fantastic job of being a fun, socially aware romp through twelve tracks with a comprehension of problems society faces in a way that’s relatable, yet entirely Cupcakke’s own.