The Chicago Rapper cupcakKe’s Profoundly Intimate Track “Scraps”

CupcakKe’s song “Scraps,” from her latest album, “Queen Elizabitch,” presents new layers of biographical intimacy.

Courtesy YouTube

For female rappers, graphic displays of sexuality signify honesty; the
nastier, the truer. And for the twenty-year-old Chicago rapper cupcakKe,
born Elizabeth Eden Harris, this means delighting in the freedom of
being a self-released, independent artist on the Internet. Her music is
teeming with pornographic vernacular, both lyrically and visually, that
is rarely heard or seen among more mainstream artists. In the video for
her song “Vagina,” which went viral in 2015, she is dressed in white hot
shorts and rainbow pasties. Baring a crazed grin, she sucks on lollipops
and cucumbers. “Freak li’l bitch, sorry, I can’t help it,” she squeals.

When cupcakKe brags about a “pussy pink like salami,” or about bringing
men to their knees, these are her assertions of feminine ingenuity. At
Lollapalooza, performing her track “CPR,” off her latest album, “Queen
Elizabitch,” she got the entire crowd to moan. But, like Lil’ Kim twenty
years ago, cupcakKe’s music is mainly preoccupied with the subject of
vulnerability. On “Pedophile,” an extreme and poetic reflection, she
describes being abused by an older man: “The way his pants hugged and
attack me / It struck to my core that I liked grown men.” Her
confessionals, tucked in between albums full of sexual boasts, are
disorienting; they put what might seem like somatic excess into a
poignant new perspective.

The song “Scraps,” from “Queen Elizabitch,” presents new layers of
biographical intimacy: “Brought out the ghetto now tryna be elegant /
Dropped out but the streets made me intelligent.” The song’s lyrics
showcase cupcakKe’s undeniable sense for narrative; quick-fire rhymes
reflect her background in Chicago’s local drill-music scene. In the
video, shot by Brandon Holmes, in Chicago, she is in a laundromat, where
she remembers “scraping up” quarters. She wears a crop top from Ivy
Park, Beyoncé’s clothing line, while describing a childhood spent on the
South Side of Chicago, where she was schoolmates with the rapper Chief
Keef. “Eat half the can good in the morning / Then eat the other half at
night.” CupcakKe’s tone is guttural, propelled by youthful indignation,
as she observes, in her audacious way, the negligence around her: “Men
nutting in women, then disappear for the baby.” The thought, its anger,
reveals the whole range of cupcakKe’s fearlessness.