Music
Tune in and turn up
CupcakKe
Highsnobiety

4.0/5.0

cupcakKe revealed recently during an interview with Rolling Stone that she felt conflicted about the title of her new album, but you only need to glance at her output this year to see that she’s anything but conflicted about the material itself. After her third record came out in January, she has spat out single after single even faster than she spits bars on rapid-fire tracks like “Quiz” and “Blackjack.” With the release of her second album in less than a year, cupcakKe has still managed to whip up something fresh for fans, signalling that the sugar rush is far from fading.

Given that the former church poet decided on the title Eden for her fourth record, you’d be forgiven for thinking that cupcakKe has delved into her religious past for inspiration. Far from it in fact, unless of course you count sex as a religious experience. Just like she did on her previous albums, cupcakKe compares her vagina to a veritable shopping basket of goods here, drawing parallels between her cherry and everything from honey, soup, and even a fat cat on “Garfield.”

Much to the delight of longtime fans – who cupcakKe affectionately refers to as “slurpers” – Eden still worships at the altar of sex throughout. Whether she’s dancing on dicks “like I was J-Lo” or asking men to “finger me like a typo,” cupcakKe raps about sinful pleasures with far more intelligence and charisma than almost every male rapper put together.

Though to discuss Eden purely in terms of sex would do the album a disservice. After cupcakKe started to fully crystallize her vision on Ephorize back in January, it’s fascinating to see her personal identity come into full focus here. More fierce than ever, she opens the album with “Petsmart,” a song that hits out at the haters who attack her with “all bark, no bite.” The next track widens her aim even further, swapping out the “fake bitches” on songs like “Quiz” to hit broader targets like inequality and sexual assault on “Cereal and Water.”

If this all makes Eden sound like a heavy listen, that’s not the case. Tracks like lead single “Quiz” prove that cupcakKe is still having more fun than ever, tearing through each swaggering beat like the cartoonish force of nature that she’s long proved herself to be. With these first two songs though, she also proves immediately from the get-go that she can comfortably diversify her sound beyond lustful odes to sex.

This shouldn’t be news to long term fans who heard cupcakKe recount her own personal story of sexual abuse with the song “Pedophile” back on her debut mixtape. Just as that single worked surprisingly well alongside more hedonistic offerings like “Deep Throat” and “Vagina,” so too does the likes of “Cereal and Water” flow effortlessly into more light-hearted songs like “Garfield” and “Starbucks.” This time round, everything comes into focus to create a more rounded collection of songs that represent a real breakout moment for the still unsigned artist.

Lines like “That’s funny when abusers ain’t locked away / They in the crib giving more beats than Dr. Dre,” somehow sit comfortably alongside lyrics that compare a man’s penis to the length of Ariana Grande’s ponytail, showing off how inventive her writing can be regardless of the subject matter. Such fluidity is also evident in the way that cupcakKe switches up her style; at one moment, she’s leaning into Latin trap with the anthem “Prenup” and next she’s suddenly opening up her heart on the synth ballad “Dangled.”

On paper, this scattershot approach might lack cohesion, but by threading each of her signature moans and flexes throughout, she ensures that Eden undoubtedly remains a cupcakKe production through and through. Even at her most vulnerable – on the aforementioned “Dangled” – she still injects her unique sense of humor into the lyrics without detracting from the message of the song: “You want her, go have her, my thoughts have been gathered / Can’t hold the sea in no more like weak bladder.”

Just as Eden opens with the kind of track that casual fans might not expect from cupcakKe, the album ends with a song that not even hardcore listeners could have predicted. Using the acronym “A unique-thinking individual strongly matters,” she shouts out support for her autistic fans on the album closer “A.U.T.I.S.M,” delivering lines like “I’ma treat you like my own / In my heart, you got a home” without ever sounding condescending or superior.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, cupcakKe explained that she wanted “something special that can hit home for people who are dealing with autism,” and this perfectly encapsulates why her fandom is so dedicated. Remember when she directly spoke to the queer community with anthems like “LGBT” and “Crayons?” cupcakKe wants all of her fans to know that they’re seen and heard, regardless of who they are, and this desire to reach out is far too rare in the hip-hop industry these days, particularly when it comes to outlying minorities.

In fact, cupcakKe has famously reached out to her fans beyond the music more than once, opening up her bank account to those who need help with school or housing. There’ll always be haters though, which became abundantly clear this week when one supposed fan wished her luck becoming mainstream on Twitter. Her mature response belied the young star’s 21 years, asserting that she doesn’t need anyone to show her the ropes when she’s already left a mark “that millions of people will remember forever.”

Even if she didn’t have more “outrageous” music on the way, Eden proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the delectable rapper has already won on her own terms without the help of a label or anyone else to succeed. Four albums in, cupcakKe has never sounded fresher, and she’s building a career that could very well outlast the majority of her signed peers. It’s rather fitting then that an album called Eden could be the one that finally propels her career to paradise.

cupcakKe’s ‘Eden’ is available to buy or stream. For more of our album reviews, head here.

Words by David Opie
What To Read Next