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Black Artist of The Week: CupcakKe

CupcakKe is one of those artists that has transcended into mainstream success thanks to the digital age. Her rawness, explicit nature in lyricism and determination has inspired the next wave of female rap.

CupcakKe, whose real name is Elizabeth Eden Harris began her career in 2012, only fifteen at the time. In 2015, her two singles, “Deepthroat,” and “Vagina,” both went viral on Soundcloud and YouTube. She quickly became an internet sensation, known for her provocative image. Many critics drew comparisons to artists like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, which are some of Cupakke’s inspirations. Her love for performance and poetry were birthed at her local church, where she showcased her passion for her faith through faith. By the time she turned 13, she wanted to transform her poetry to rap.

Her first mixtape, C*m Cake, released in 2016 made it to Rolling Stone’s “Best Rap Albums”  list that year. Subsequently, she may be privy to producing vulgar songs, but her versatility exists. In songs like, “Pedophile,” where she details the experience of dating an older man while being a minor. She also wrote “Reality, Pt. 3,” and the continuation, “Reality, Pt. 4,” which go into explicit detail about the domestic violence she faced by her brother.

CupcakKe uses the vulgarity of her popular songs to draw crowds in. As a result, listeners become keen on the content depth in the projects she releases. In a 2016 Complex interview, CupcakKe mentions how she markets her projects. “You know, so many people doubted me. And I just feel like—I’ve been doing music for so long. And the thing about it is, I got noticed off the freaky music and the sexual music. That is what I got noticed off of. But I’ve got over 50 songs out. Out of those songs, only three is freaky. You see what I’m saying? I decided for this project, I wanted to do it all—I wanted to touch on pedophiles, on abuse, I wanted to touch on being poor. On this project, I wanted to touch on everything. Including being sexual. It’s 18 songs and only three is freaky. I touched on street music, I touched on violence, I touched on cops killing, I touched on a lot of situations. It’s very versatile,” CupcakKe said.

“I think it showed talent because people weren’t expecting that. I strategized the name because I wanted to trick people to think they were getting something, but they didn’t get what they thought they was gonna get—a full freaky mixtape. I play with them, and it was for the good. How it came out, the result, that they see I can do this that and the other, it really turned out good,” she continued.

CupcakKe is no different from those who came before her, using the image of sexuality to draw attention. Her predecessors Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj have also used their proactive images to tell in-depth stories.  “Lighters Up,”  by Lil’ Kim released in 2005, speaks on the caution of street life. “Pills N Potions” by Nicki Minaj tackles the issue of addiction.

CupcakKe is also an independent artist. Her song, “Mosh Pit,” released in 2021 made its way to #1 on the US iTunes charts. It climbed on the store’s all-genre song sales chart, even stealing the spot from Lil Nas X’s “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” which was pushed down to #2. CupcakKe has made it clear on numerous occasions that large labels reach out. Though, she’s more interested in staying true to herself and staying independent. “ I came from nothing, so I know the value of a dollar. And I’m really not stupid. I don’t know about the labels that hit me up—I know who they are but I’m not digging what they’re talking. For the moment I’ll stay independent.,” CupcakKe said.

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