Paris Hilton + Hay­ley Kiy­oko + Jake Borelli + Swati Man­della

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A wise wo­man once said, “Boy on boy, girl on girl, like who the fuck you like, fuck the world.” That wo­man is CupcakKe, one of rap’s raunchi­est stars and a huge LGBTQ ad­vo­cate in an in­dus­try not al­ways known for its ac­cep­tance of queer­ness. In the space of just three years, CupcakKe’s re­leased four stu­dio al­bums – in­clud­ing the bril­liant, fresh­ly­pressed Eden – and dropped two mas­sive an­thems for the queer com­mu­nity; LGBT and Crayons. The for­mer, a high­light at her live shows, was writ­ten as a way to pay back the fans who have been most loyal to her through­out her ca­reer.

“Don’t judge a les­bian ‘cause she don’t want you back, man, judge one of the gays, they drag you from Z to A, and shout out to the bis, you ain’t gotta pick a side,” she spits over a club-ready beat, while the mu­sic video is splashed with ev­ery colour of the rain­bow, from drag queens mak­ing out with each other to femme boys twerk­ing. It’s this com­mit­ment to equal­ity that’s won her such a ded­i­cated fol­low­ing, who she lovingly refers to as her Slurpers.

“When you re­alise you have a pretty big fan­base of LGBTQ peo­ple, then it’s like, ‘They sup­port you, so why not show them you sup­port them too?’,” she says. “Be­fore I even had a ca­reer I had LGBTQ friends who I’d hang out with. They’re hu­man. I look at them like a reg­u­lar per­son, not, ‘Oh that’s some­body that’s part of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity’, it’s like, ‘Oh that’s an­other hu­man be­ing’. That’s just how I see it. Ev­ery­one likes who they like.”

Her so­cial me­dia savvi­ness (she proudly pro­claims she hasn’t gone a day away from Twit­ter since her ca­reer be­gan) has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of ‘stan Twit­ter’ in a way no other artist has done be­fore her. A quick glance at any of CupcakKe’s posts brings up fren­zied replies like “slay me queen” and “my wig de­cided to go on a world tour”. She em­braced it on Keep Hoes Alive, which saw her shout out pop mu­sic fo­rum ATRL and boast of hav­ing “stans all the way to Ja­pan”. It’s hard to think of an­other artist so in touch with the cur­rent state of youth in­ter­net cul­ture, and it’s key to her pop­u­lar­ity. “I’ll just be like, ‘I’m brush­ing my teeth’, and they’ll be like, ‘Queen of tooth­paste, tooth­brushes are shook’,” she laughs. “Some peo­ple will tag me and be like, ‘I wanna eat CupcakKe’s ass­hole’. It’s funny. I know them like the back of my hand, and I love them.”

Just as leg­endary as her lyrics are her photo cap­tions, which see her ap­ply her inim­itable sense of hu­mour and un­apolo­getic sex­u­al­ity to the world around her. “If only I can find a dick as thick as this tree,” she writes on one post. “Blonde wig like Be­y­oncé since I just swal­lowed his des­tiny’s child,” she jokes on an­other. If it seems ef­fort­less, that’s be­cause it is. “I’m an artist, so I’m great with words,” she says. “I like to look at the back­ground of the photo and come up with fun things. It’s like if some­one says, ‘Here’s a word, rap off it’, when you’re an artist it’s just easy. That’s why peo­ple are in­trigued by my Twit­ter. It’s pure com­edy. It’s bril­liant.”

The CupcakKe we see on so­cial me­dia is just one of sev­eral per­sonas the rap­per has adopted. “I’m three stars in one,” she says. “El­iz­a­beth is the shy side of me, she can write the po­etry and make tears come down your eyes; CupcakKe makes you wanna come over and have sex; and then you’ve got Mar­i­lyn MonHOE, she’s the Twit­ter troll, she makes you feel like you can say what­ever the fuck you want, and ain’t no­body gonna stop you.” It’s El­iz­a­beth who speaks to us over the phone, and like many of the world’s most out­ra­geous stars, when she’s away from the cam­era, she’s sur­pris­ingly re­served.

CupcakKe first be­gan ex­plor­ing her tal­ent for word­play as a church poet. When she was in her early teens, a fel­low wor­ship­per su‘ested that she took a change in di­rec­tion. “Some­one in the church was ba­si­cally like, ‘Why don’t you turn your po­etry into rap­ping, you could make money off that’. So the next day I did it, and I ain’t ever turned back since,” she re­calls. From there, CupcakKe lived on a diet of rap leg­ends like Lil’ Kim, 50 Cent, Lil’ Wayne and Trina. Her first sin­gle Vag­ina, which came out shortly af­ter she turned 18, couldn’t have been fur­ther from her church roots – in it, she com­pares her “pussy” to “Ni­a­gara Falls” and prom­ises to “slurp that dick ’til it cum”. The day af­ter it dropped, the mu­sic video went vi­ral on WorldS­tarHipHop, and rock­eted her to in­ter­net fame.

“I’ve been rap­ping since I was 14, so that tran­si­tion was me want­ing to do a sex­ual song for once. It’s just a part of grow­ing up,” she ex­plains. Vag­ina was quickly fol­lowed by other sex bops in­clud­ing Deepthroat, Do‘y Style and Best Dick Sucker. But not ev­ery­one was a fan. “You know, the hip-hop world is like, ‘I just wanna hear drill mu­sic and drill mu­sic only’, so they don’t un­der­stand the other side of my mu­sic, es­pe­cially the sex­ual side of me. But ev­ery­one has that deep in­side them, it just takes a mat­ter of time to break it out, and the right per­son to break it out... and I’m that right per­son.”

Her sex­u­ally ex­plicit mu­sic may have earned her vi­ral suc­cess, but to pass CupcakKe off as a nov­elty act would be a dire in­jus­tice. A deep dive into her al­ready-hefty back cat­a­logue sees the rap­per tackle a seem­ingly end­less list of so­cial jus­tice is­sues in­clud­ing racism, po­lice bru­tal­ity, body pos­i­tiv­ity, and child abuse. Does she wish peo­ple would fo­cus more on her po­lit­i­cal mu­sic? “Def­i­nitely.” But she’s at peace with the fact that she’ll al­ways have crit­ics. “Some peo­ple don’t like my mu­sic, and I re­spect that. Not ev­ery­one’s gotta like my mu­sic.”

By the time her de­but al­bum Au­da­cious ar­rived in 2016, CupcakKe was re­ceiv­ing at­ten­tion from ma­jor record la­bels in­ter­ested in sign­ing one of rap’s hottest new prop­er­ties. But she turned them all down, choos­ing in­stead to re­main a truly in­de­pen­dent artist. “I’m good,” she ex­plains. “I make a lot of money at the end of the day. Why would I make 25 cents when I can make a full dol­lar?” One meet­ing with At­lantic Records, home to chart-top­ping artists like Cardi B and Rita Ora, left a par­tic­u­larly sour taste in her mouth. In 2017, Bri­tish grime artist Lady Leshurr re­vealed that she’d been of­fered $250,000 by At­lantic to diss Nicki Mi­naj, which she promptly turned down. It en­cour­aged CupcakKe to open up about her own ex­pe­ri­ences with the la­bel.

“I got that when I sat down with At­lantic Records. They didn’t specif­i­cally say it, but their words were, ‘We want you to com­pete’, and it just hap­pened to be with Nicki Mi­naj,” she says, although she stresses that she doesn’t want peo­ple to take that ex­pe­ri­ence out of con­text. “I didn’t turn them down just be­cause of that, but I def­i­nitely turned them down be­cause their deal was shitty. They told me to come in and record some mu­sic, and LGBT hap­pened to be one of the songs I recorded, but I felt like they were more in­ter­ested in, ‘We wanna get this dumb-ass per­son on our la­bel so we can get some of her money’, rather than, ‘We wanna help her out’.

“I was there for a cou­ple hours, and most of the time they were tex­ting on their phones. It was just ig­no­rant. All I’ll say is, the shit they of­fered me, I al­ready had that in my bank ac­count, so why would I need to take that? That’s why I didn’t sign the deal over­all.” So what would it take for her to sign with a la­bel? “At this point, prob­a­bly 10 mil­lion,” she dead­pans. “That’s not a joke. I’m dead se­ri­ous. Lit­er­ally. 10 mil­lion.”

Of course, be­ing in­de­pen­dent comes with stru‘les, but CupcakKe takes them in her stride. “I do ev­ery­thing my­self,” she proudly states. “The only down­side is that it gets a lit­tle stress­ful. You don’t re­ally have any free time, be­cause you’re so busy work­ing, but I’d rather be work­ing non­stop with a fat bank ac­count than be hang­ing out with friends and let­ting a man­ager or a record la­bel screw me over, and I’m only see­ing 25 cents out of a dol­lar.” She en­cour­ages other mu­si­cians to fol­low in her foot­steps. “I think art should be in­de­pen­dent. Ev­ery­one gets turned off from be­ing in­de­pen­dent be­cause they think, ‘I’ve been rap­ping for two months and ain’t no­body no­tice me’. I was rap­ping for years be­fore any­body no­ticed me. It takes time, this shit don’t hap­pen overnight. But you can be the bi‘est star with­out a la­bel. Look at Chance The Rap­per.” De­spite the fun and care­free na­ture of her pub­lic per­sona, CupcakKe re­cently re­vealed to her fol­low­ers via a se­ries of tweets that she was “at a very low and de­pressed point” in her life and was bat­tling with per­sonal demons. It’s some­thing she’s been deal­ing with for a while now. “It’s not just me. Ev­ery­one at some point in their lives is gonna deal with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety,” she says, stress­ing the im­por­tance of talk­ing about these is­sues. “That’s just my way of deal­ing with it. I like to let peo­ple know what’s go­ing on with me.”

Thou­sands of fans – in­clud­ing rap leg­end Missy El­liott – of­fered words of com­fort over so­cial me­dia, en­cour­ag­ing her to pull through. While many celebri­ties ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal health is­sues be­cause of the con­stant at­ten­tion, CupcakKe says it keeps her go­ing .“It def­i­nitely helps, be­cause I say to my­self, ‘You’ve gotta get your shit to­gether and get out of this de­pressed place be­cause you’ve got all these peo­ple look­ing up to you who want to see you do bet­ter’. When I’m down, they’re down, and when I’m happy, they’re happy. So that def­i­nitely helps.” It’s a mu­tual sup­port net­work, as the fans share their own stru‘les over so­cial me­dia and at the rap­per’s shows. “They tell me sto­ries about ev­ery­thing they’ve been through, and I lis­ten with an open ear,” she says.

Ear­lier this year, CupcakKe held her first head­line tour across the UK, with mul­ti­ple stops in­clud­ing Lon­don, Manch­ester and Birm­ing­ham. The shows them­selves were typ­i­cally low-key af­fairs; pic­ture a sea of fans (many still in their teens) moan­ing along in uni­son to the sound of fel­la­tio pop bop CPR while their idol sim­u­lates mas­tur­ba­tion on stage, and you’ve got the right

im­age. But de­spite sell­ing out venues, and per­form­ing to thou­sands of ador­ing fans, CupcakKe ad­mits her favourite part of vis­it­ing the UK was “get­ting on the plane and go­ing back home”.

“I know that’s kind of harsh to say, and I mean that with no bad vibes,” she says. “In the UK, ev­ery city I went to, the crowds were amaz­ing and their en­ergy was like no other. Now, the bad part, which made me want to go back home, was that I did not feel wel­come. I walked through a cou­ple of air­ports, be­cause I was on tour, and they looked at me crazy, like, ‘What are you do­ing here?’ It was ridicu­lous. And ev­ery­where we went, we didn’t re­ally see any black peo­ple. So I don’t know if it was racism, or if they were just cu­ri­ous. I un­der­stand we were the only black peo­ple around, but we’re hu­man. You ain’t bet­ter than me, and I ain’t bet­ter than you. That’s how I look at every­body. But they did not wel­come us at the air­ports, they did not wel­come us walk­ing around their stores. At all. Would I go back? Def­i­nitely, to see the fans. But to go to the stores and the air­ports, with how peo­ple treated us? Nah.”

Fol­low­ing her trip to the UK – and given that her se­cond stu­dio al­bum was bril­liantly named Queen El­iz­abitch – talk (nat­u­rally) turns to Eng­land’s own monarch, Queen El­iz­a­beth II. “I don’t know if we would get along, be­cause me and old peo­ple have noth­ing in com­mon,” she laughs. “The only thing me and old peo­ple have in com­mon is they have no teeth and that’s how I act when I’m suck­ing dick – like I got no teeth.”

With four stu­dio al­bums, two mix­tapes, and a world tour al­ready un­der her belt at the age of 21, the fu­ture is rife with pos­si­bil­i­ties for CupcakKe. So where can she go next? “I don’t have an end goal, I’m just en­joy­ing the mu­sic,” she says. “Even if all the fans leave me to­day, I love to write, I look at it as an out­let. I’m just en­joy­ing my­self, craft­ing new ma­te­rial ev­ery day and mak­ing it as great as it can be. I do wanna sell out are­nas, I wanna get to sta­di­ums, just like ev­ery other artist is try­ing to do, I wanna be a big deal. But like I said, if it doesn’t hap­pen, I’m just en­joy­ing the mu­sic.”

Ev­ery­one has that sex­ual side deep in­side them, it just takes a mat­ter of time to break it out, and the right per­son to break it out… and I’m that right per­son.

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