CupcakKe – Dauntless Manifesto

Filthy, fun, and hard-hitting...

If there’s one modern rapper who was ahead of the current game, it’s decidedly Cupcakke. The twenty-seven-year-old rapper debuted in 2015 with shockingly raunchy titles and overly racy and instantly sharable sexual acts; you might recognize the often-referenced “Smack my ass like a drum” lyric. Her early mixtapes like ‘Cum Cake’ or ‘S.T.D.’ are filled with moaning, slurping, jaw-dropping songs — one insists she’s the ‘Best Dick Sucker’; she opens ‘Deepthroat’ with a now-viral plea to “Hump me, fuck me, daddy better make me choke”; on ‘Doggy Style’, she warns, “Way past a freak, I’m more like disgusting.” She walked so a song like ‘WAP’ could run.

But amongst these ridiculous and absurd references to her vagina, Cupcakke wasn’t afraid to go towards topics that were far more real; a more serious side to her goofy persona. The crudely titled ‘Picking Cotton’ addresses racism and police brutality, ‘Ace Hardware’ and ‘Birth Mark’ touch on poverty and the loss of an unborn child, she supports the queer community on ‘Lgbt’, ‘Mistress’ speaks on self-worth in a relationship as a Black woman, and, of course, ‘Spider-Man Dick’, a hardcore banger where she begs her partner to “Fuck me ‘til my pussy redder than Hot Cheetos.” All of those, by the way, take place on one album, ‘Audacious’, while still making room for a song which chastely thanks Jesus for her success.

Instead of drowning in ideas, she comes off as simply someone with a lot to say, a songwriter in control of their self image as an independent artist. This risk-laden and prolific approach to music results in ‘Dauntless Manifesto’, her first album since 2018 and return to music after a two-year hiatus. The album’s subject matter is expansive, touching, and often absurd, in the best way — it goes from racism, body positivity, trans rights, suicide, alongside her signature sex anthems while whipping out gawk-worthy line after pearl-clutching bar. The ‘…Manifesto’ is dizzying, broad in its scope and consistently surprising, never taking itself too seriously without undermining Cupcakke’s strength as a rapper.

Many of the songs on ‘Dauntless Manifesto’ sound like nothing she’s done before. Some of the experiments don’t always work out in her favour, like the guitars on ‘Water Balloon’ or sludgy, dark vibe surrounding the anti-suicide anthem ‘Rock Paper Scissors’, but elsewhere, when she hops on a Jersey Club beat on ‘Dementia’ or ‘Queef’, it makes for some of her most interesting cuts yet. Along with ‘Queef’, the frenetic digital distortion on ‘Aura’ calls back to hyperpop — Charli xcx, friend and frequent collaborator, might have rubbed off on her. There are certainly some left-field choices, but at least she’s able to consider these switches, something her contemporaries rarely do.

You’d be forgiven for listening to a Cupcakke record primarily for her sex writing the shocking things she says surrounding her body, and ‘Dauntless Manifesto’ has one-liners in spades. They range from absurd to creative to clever to disgusting to ridiculous — the Cupcakke brand — around which your head will ricochet around for weeks to come. Here’s a non-comprehensive list: “Call me Whore-a the Explorer / I’m looking for the n****s who could afford her”; “Body look tea, but your face look Rex”; “Couldn’t turn a n***a off if he came with remotes”; “Your name hold no weight like Ozempic and cocaine”; “One hole, two holes, three holes, go / Pussy, ass, mouth, it can get one more”; “Twinkle, twinkle, little star / He gon’ make this pussy fart”; “OCD but this head so sloppy”; “That dick so hard, it’s like an activist, it’s woke as fuck”; and the grand finale, on ‘Backstage Passes’, amongst explicit, detailed gurgling sounds: “Pee down my throat, n***a, give me that gold / Then have your cum follow the Yellow Brick Road / I’m the wizard of cocks all across the globe / I’ma wash that dick if your cum got loads.” Legitimately poetic.

Cupcakke is a skilled comedy writer, something Megan Thee Stallion and Ice Spice explore in small bursts, but her writing is surreal in ways that are more befitting to a satire. The DUI in the titular song isn’t enforced because she’s drinking alcohol while driving, rather, semen: “I look drunk because he came in my eye,” she admits. On ‘Cruella’, the otherwise poignant track about the public’s hypocrisy surrounding Black art and culture, she employs the perhaps naive metaphor of 101 Dalmatians for a vision of “Black-and-white side by side together.” On ‘Dementia’, she recounts a story of a man abandoning his girl; why isn’t he calling her anymore? The answer is simple: “Dementiaaaaa,” she taunts, like a comedy song on Saturday Night Live. Her urge to tie together a metaphor sometimes results in some truly convoluted ideas, like on ‘Rock Paper Scissors’, where she uses the game as a way to urge against suicide. “I know that life is hard without paper, so sometimes you wanna cut your life short and just shoot,” she opens. But at least her imagination takes her to such places.

That the schick doesn’t get old is because of her charisma and that the surrounding songs are excellent. While Cupcakke has made a name for herself as a farcical rapper, more referenced as a meme than an artist, it’s worth noting that ‘Dauntless Manifesto’ has some of her most fearless tracks yet. The high-energy rage she had on cuts like ‘Quiz’ is on full display here; ‘Aura’, ‘Queef’, and ‘Double Homicide’ all zip by with genuinely transfixing bars. Perhaps the album’s best track, opener ‘Grilling N****s II’, a sequel to her 2019 single, is dizzying in scope as she dances around different flows with absurd speed. She ends the destructive rampage with the line, “I’ve been gone for two years, and still nobody fucking with me,” and it’s hard not to agree.

The six years Cupcakke spent honing her craft have resulted in her best album yet. ‘Dauntless Manifesto’ goes beyond any record she’s put out before, creating ample room for comedy and jokes while still remaining immensely down to earth; she has a clear self-image and plays into the role while using her time to surpass our own expectations. The time to take Cupcakke seriously was a couple years ago, but if ‘Dauntless Manifesto’ was the one to wake you up, she’s humble enough to let it slide.

8/10

Words: Sam Franzini

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