Cardi B is pissing off white people again. On August 7, the rapper dropped a new song and video featuring fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion titled, “WAP,” which stands for “wet-ass pussy.” The song isn’t meant to be subtle, as evidenced by, well, nearly everything about it. The video, the title and the lyrics—they’re all meant to be on-the-nose and explicit enough to make certain people squirm and others rejoice.
And then there’s Ben Shapiro. A pitchy, little man with about as much relevance as a landline. Shapiro’s two favorite pastimes include hiding behind critiques of Black Lives Matter protests as a thin veil for blatant racism and hiding behind critiques of feminism as a thin veil for misogyny. So when the two came together, of course, Shapiro was in such a rush to share his opinion that he might have committed the most spectacular self-own in human history. As he bemoans the scourge of feminism, he mentions red-faced, as he is wont to do, that his wife is a doctor. Not a gynecologist per se, but a doctor nonetheless. Citing his doctor-wife he states that wet vaginas are a medical abnormality and that essentially, vaginas shouldn’t get wet.
Amazing. In his haste to condemn Black women taking ownership of their sexual needs, Shapiro inadvertently announced to the world that in his lifetime of sexual experiences with women, he has never made a woman aroused enough to get wet. His poor doctor-wife. But this song isn’t about Shapiro and his many, many shortcomings, or any of the other angry white men who feel compelled to give their input. It’s about being horny as hell.
The video starts off with wrought iron gates inscribed with “WAP” swinging open. The camera then zooms through a lush floral garden, and at the center of the shot is a rotating fountain with marble statues of two women, naked and squatting, backs against each other, with jets of water squirting out of their nipples. The position of these sculptures looks almost regal, as the women have their back up straight and chins held high. Past the statues, the camera presses onward toward a white mansion with water flooding out from underneath the front double doors. The camera then enters the mansion, which has bright pastel walls and gold trimmings. Water flows over the zigzag-tiled floor.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion turn from the corners dressed in brightly colored showgirl outfits, with capes and feathers and elbow-length gloves—Cardi B’s gloves ornamented, of course, with her signature two-inch-long nails. Golden statues of big juicy butts and busts of women line the walls, water jetting out of their nipples as well.
As Cardi and Meg rap the opening bars, they creep down the long hallway, peering curiously around at the walls and into doorways. Inside one room are several tigers, two of whom seem, well, busy. Meg gazes at a door knocker in the form of a snake, which comes to life and opens its jaws. The camera’s eye lingering on the door knocker is curious for several reasons. One, because it’s a snake—which if you recall Nicki Minaj’s track, “Anaconda,” is a phallic reference, as well as the seducer in the Fall of Eve—and two, the overtly sexual connotations the phrase “door knocker” has, from nipple rings to sexual acts in relation to fellatio and testicles.
The video then jumps to Cardi and Meg laying in sand, surrounded by snakes, with their long black hair coiling around them as they describe what exactly they want from their male sexual counterparts, all while caressing each other. Meg even licks Cardi’s face in a shot that intended to cast an intense eroticism over the entire scene. “I don’t cook, I don’t clean, but let me tell you how I got this ring,” states Cardi, with an ironic pout, as the track then seamlessly slides into Meg’s verse.
The video jumps again to a new setting, one that looks like part of an assembly line in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Bright green and purple envelope the entire shot as Cardi, Meg and several dancers move sensually to the steady beat. “Now get your boots and your coat for this wet-ass pussy,” Meg raps, and then the track stops.
The video cuts back to the hallway, the camera’s eye panning up as someone in a cheetah print gown walks, with the trail of the gown billowing behind her. When it cuts to the front of the woman, we see that it is Kylie Jenner—who, in fact, is only one of two non-Black people in this music video. Funny to include in a video full of Black women a white-passing woman who is notorious for appropriating Black culture. The other non-Black person in the video is Catalan singer Rosalía, who also has been accused of co-opting Latin American culture to bolster her career as a singer. Were these inclusions a form of commentary from Cardi and Meg? If so, what point were they trying to get across?
We watch Jenner open a door and enter a room before it cuts to Cardi doing the splits between two chairs. Everything in the room Cardi is in is cheetah print: her stockings, her corset, the walls. There’s even an actual, living cheetah snarling in the corner. In this solo verse, Cardi again makes a reference to snakes with, “Not a garter snake, I need a king cobra.” This entire verse and Meg’s following it really don’t mince words or leave much ambiguity, outside of clever wordplay: “I ride on that thing like the cops is behind me, I spit on his mic and now he tryna sign me,” Cardi finishes her verse off before Meg lists off her even kinkier preferences in a room surrounded by white tigers.
With mentions of handcuffs and eating ass, both spell out explicitly the kind of sex they like without beating around the bush (ha). It’s refreshing to hear women, especially women of color, talk about sex so candidly and so proudly proclaim what gets us off and what gets us excited about sex. So often are we kettled, shunned, condemned or otherwise punished for daring to enjoy sex. So often do we have to settle for mediocre sex from a man who keeps things vanilla because we have been taught not to express what we really want. So often do we compromise with letting our minds wander, our hearts fluttering with excitement when we think he’s reaching over to pull our hair, only instead to feel let down when he gently brushes our hair aside.
Women enjoy sex, and most people understand this, but we still have an expected etiquette standard that requires us to tiptoe around this truth. The “There’s Some Whores in This House” sample by Frank Ski which was used in the song came from a 1993 track. The entire history of rap is littered with references to strip clubs, “hoes,” getting head and objectifying and sexualizing everything—but strictly from the male gaze. All women have had for the last several decades in heterosexual contexts were Khia’s 2008 track “My Neck My Back,” and Lil Kim’s 1996 song “Not Tonight.” We also got the lesbian rap duo Yo Majesty, but how many people have heard of them? Obviously not many, because songs discussing women’s sexuality absent of men is completely removed from the male gaze, meaning it has no place in a patriarchal industry like that of commercial music. Juicy J literally asked to have his ass ate in 1999’s “Slob on My Knob.” Why did it take 21 years for Meg to ask for the same?
The animal imagery—cats (pussy, or, vagina) and snakes (penis), the decadence of the mansion and wardrobes, nods to BDSM with latex outfits and kinky acts, and the constant visual and lyrical references to water can feel almost stimulus overload. But isn’t that the point of this song, to be gratuitous and over-the-top?
When one googles this song, the first four or five reviews mention some sort of conversation with a gynecologist. Could the female sexual experience be made any more sterile and clinical? But I ask, is this not a song? Why not treat it as the musical work that it is, and not some spectacle of Blackness and female sexuality that must be studied in a lab like some horrific Barnum exhibition? Why do medical experts need to proclaim on Twitter that it’s natural for women and people with vaginas to be horny too? Or is the verdict out on that one still?
The spectacle surrounding this song and video detracts from the work at its core: music made by a person who is horny, a tale as old as time. Nobody would have interviewed erectile dysfunction experts regarding a man rapping about “fucking all day and night.” If this article were about a rapper who is a man, I guarantee there’d be no time of day given to the many sexually frustrated conservative cranks. But I will say this: there are fewer things in this world that are funnier than hearing Ben Shapiro say, “Put this p-word right in your face, swipe your nose like a credit card,” in the most sterile, deadpan, monotonous reading of the song’s lyrics. Say what you will about Cardi or Meg or even Jenner, at least we can all come together and enjoy some raunchy lyrics read by a nasally, angry little man.