W.A.P.: The “Dirtiest” No. 1 Hit

Mia Levine, Apprentice

Who would have thought a song about “Wet A** P-Word, as Ben Shapiro would say, would have such a cultural impact? Ever since Grammy-winning Bronx rapper Cardi B and Houston-based Megan Thee Stallion dropped “W.A.P.” on August 7, the song has immediately become one of the most iconic of 2020.

The song quickly rose up the charts and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, drawing 93 million U.S. streams and 125,000 downloads in the first week of release. But the song has also gained attention for its taboo nature: critics immediately attacked the hit, arguing that W.A.P. could never be about female empowerment.

The visuals were vital to the success of the hit. The song’s hypnotizing sample is the first thing you hear as the camera guides the viewer into the mansion. What follows is exactly what one would expect from showstoppers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. The video includes snakes, choreographed dancing, a swimming pool, and an appearance by Kylie Jenner. The video creators decided for the video to be the censored version of the song without holding back any of the visual cues. In lieu of this, Cardi and Megan made the clean lyrics even bawdier. Woos and moans instead of curse words gave the song a grittier feel that the original could not touch.

On top of these “censored” changes, the name for the new clean version changed the definition of W.A.P. from “Wet A** P***y” into “Wet and Gushy”, which somehow sounds even filthier. For the song itself, both Cardi and Megan showed their strengths. In this song, Cardi’s strengths are one-liners while Megan is stronger with rhythmic flow. They both compliment each other and match each other’s energy which helps make this song feel infectious.

But the video isn’t the end of the W.A.P. movement. User content on the app TikTok has also helped W.A.P. become a piece of cultural phenomena. TikTok is a good example of why so many enjoy W.A.P with simplicity: it’s a feel-good song with a fun dance involved. 

The song brought together multiple sides of the app; the dancing, singing, and remix side especially blew up due to W.A.P. Almost every part of the song has a dance connected to it. The dances are fun to learn and allows for customizable changes. Megan’s first verse of the song is the most prolific and synchronizes with almost every beat. Her flow allowed for remixes of the song to blow up all over TikTok. Some of the most popular remixes of the song include a mix with “S&M” by Rihanna and another with a song from the play “Phantom of the Opera”.

Song’s about sex is nothing new: look at Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing or Notorious B.I.G. bragging about “tongue delivering”. Usually, when a new song about sex and sexual imagery drops, people barely bat an eye. However, when W.A.P dropped it drew both praise and condemnation. On one end of the spectrum, people see the song as a push forward to a better conversation. 

Expressing confidence in sexuality, sexual fantasies, and forthrightness can now be the norm. The other end of the spectrum is filled with double standards supported by misogyny. Notably, most of those who bash the song as well as the rappers are men. Rapper CeeLo Green, commentator Ben Shapiro, and Republican congressional candidate James P. Bradley all had things to say about the song. 

It is no surprise the lengths that critics are trying to keep women’s sexuality suppressed. Looking at this logically, their argument is confusing: men who desire sex with women are upset that women want to have sex as well. Is their argument that straight women are not allowed to enjoy sex? Is sex simply for the benefit of the male? Clearly, they are scared women are starting to want sexual agency. People who are mad at women in power should look outside; women can still be treated with respect and want control in the bedroom. As Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “W.A.P. means Women Against Patriarchy”.