Cupcakke - Ephorize (Review)

Martin_Canine
CUPCAKKE
Ephorize
★★★★☆

What I always genuinely liked about Cupcakke is how she, as a woman, treats sex. As her name suggests, her lyrics often center around intercourse of any kind - she wouldn’t be the first femcee to do that. However, while others either felt provocative, tried to turn the male dominated world around or fit into a certain fantasy, for Cupcakke sex is all about fun, which is what it always should have been in the first place. Sex is natural and great is what I learned from my parents and sex ed. However, Cupcakke is one of the few artists out there where it indeed comes across as such. As not a big deal, just a part of her lifestyle she enjoys really much.

However, what I didn’t always like was her music. Sadly. Songs like Doggy Style or Deepthroat didn’t have much for me to enjoy. To me, her flow was very clumsy and weak, often so slow that you barely call it rapping but rather rhythmic talking, and she tended to yell the words instead of creating a certain flirty tension. I know many people had the same initial opinion, however my reason was different: they were puzzled by the explicit nature and weirdness, I just didn’t really like the musical aspect of it. With that impression, I made the mistake of not paying attentions to her other two releases in between these 2 years from then to now, and probably didn’t notice an evolution that many other realized. So naturally, I was really baffled when I found her name on several best lists, notably also from people who usually don’t like this kind of hip hop. It was not until she was featured on Rap Critic’s Best of 2017 video that I decided to check out her latest work, only to witness an improvement I haven’t heard very often. She went from a far below average hip hop artist to a worthy competitor in the run for the title Queen of Rap in a pretty short period of time.

On Ephorize, she spits bars that could get your tongue twisted if you’d try to re-rap them. Not only because of their speed, but because of how the words and vowels are set. What she does on this album is toying around with the English language while fluently performing her lines as one unit with the beat. She spits syllables like cherry pits, which is far more than an improvement, it’s a 180 degree turn from her first two albums. While her rapping stays as aggressive and angry as I previously criticized, this sounds far better on songs with a fast flow, which actually doubles the impression of the tempo by having her sounding like she has no time to catch her breath. She also occasionally succeeds in adjusting her voice when adapting a slower style, as can be heard in the pre-chorus of Duck Duck Goose, in which she sounds really excited.

The thing about Cupcakke is that I was never sure if she sees herself as a comedy rapper or not. The line is often very thin. Is Eminem a comedy rapper? You wouldn’t probably describe him as such, as he made songs as dark as Kim, as powerful as Not Afraid and as conscious as Stan, but in fact, a large part of his songs are humorous, even though some have mostly shock value jokes. About Cupcakke can be said much the same. To me, she’s fun, but not always comical in the sense of comedians who make music. She’s no Weird Al. While Doggy Style appears to have a Lonely Island kind of humor (which I never found truly funny to be honest), which she tries to create by making some weird noises, and I can see a certain comical approach in that, her other songs basically work within the boundaries of more light hearted hip hop. There are Eminem songs with a much clearer focus on gags and jokes. However, Ephorize can’t be called a comedy record at all. While songs like Duck Duck Goose have a high entertainment value for delivering over-the-top descriptions of sex and attraction, it’s more on a level on which punchlines work rather than parodies. It’s not too different from Lil Wayne’s wittier sex lines, just that the sex of both the artist and their partner are switched. Good punchlines always have something funny about them, as they rely on creative and unpredictable exaggeration, and the greatest ones have clever word play. Cupcakke is capable of all of this. However, she is also capable of bringing heavy, hard hitting hardcore hip hop on Navel, some deep going thoughts on 2 Minutes, and positive statements on Crayons. She is diverse, and that’s what makes her such a fascinating femcee. And the beats work along just nicely: positive songs bring the summer-like European Afrotrap style to America, or have a nice tropical vibe, but when it gets into battle rap territory, the drum kits get five times harder, and we get to hear flutes, pounding metal pots and dramatic brass. And for some strange reason, the wide range of sounds and moods always blend together perfectly and together manage to form a nice portrait of a good rapper called Cupcakke. Now I’m really curious at what point in her career she became so skilled.

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