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Cupcakke’s ‘Ephorize’ proves it’s time to take her seriously

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(Courtesy of Cupcakke’s facebook page)

For Chicago-based rapper Elizabeth Harris, better known by her stage name, Cupcakke, 2017 was a great year. She worked with Charli XCX and was featured on both of her 2017 mixtapes, “Number One Angel” and “Pop 2.” This eventually led her to perform onstage with XCX at the major music festival Lollapalooza.

At just 20 years old, the young rapper has already created complicated, deeply moving poetry that far exceeds many of her competitors. Touching on a variety of issues mainstream artists are afraid to write openly about, her music speaks on sexuality, class struggle, misogyny, racism, body positivity, homophobia, gender roles and more.

Her stardom began when she released iconic, erotic tracks accompanied by equally audacious music videos. For a number of listeners, she was more of a meme than a talented rapper—someone that they laughed at rather than an adept rapper. Her latest release “Ephorize” changes that. If this album is any indication of where Cupcakke is headed, it’s only a matter of time before she begins charting and breaking barriers in the music industry.

The outlandish and witty MC had already gathered a cult fan following for her music. Still under an independent label, Harris has been creating music for over five years and now she is finally being recognized for her craft. “Ephorize” exemplifies her continued growth; Harris is more confident, lyrically complex, and offers more dynamic bars over an improved production.

“Ephorize” opens with “2 Minutes,” an introspective track explaining her growth. With mellow piano chords and a fairly minimalist production, there isn’t much of a variety in melody, but Cupcakke creates a song that empowers herself and listeners to go after their dreams, no matter what the odds.

Having set the tone, “Ephorize” immediately launches into “Cartoons,” one of the most merciless tracks of the project. An unabashed Harris breaks into fast-paced, tight bars showing her MC prowess. Full of clever similes, Harris proves she isn’t to be taken lightly and that she can take down any of her competitors.

Harris quickly shifts to the polar opposite with her hyper sexualized “Duck Duck Goose.” Continuing her use of clever similes, now Cupcakke is proclaiming her sexual expertise. This song, alongside “Spoiled Milk T*****s” give off the playful, comical, sex-positive vibe that helped launch her career to millions.

While a number of fans and listeners may only play these songs and view Harris as a joke, “Ephorize” calls them out directly and defends herself. In “Self Interview,” she snaps, “And most people already skipped this song ‘cause it ain’t about sex and killing.” Harris is far from the stock character social media has prescribed her as. Her music carries a level of depth, complexity and heart that felt missing.

In “Wisdom Teeth,” she touches on class struggle, explaining the struggle of being homeless to making it as a successful artist. In this, she expresses the importance to give back to those who supported her, and those who are less fortunate. Her wisdom teeth are a metaphor that represents both her class and her humility.

“Crayons” is the LGBT-centered tune that has at least one line dedicated to each letter of the acronym. It’s blaring horns, upbeat tunes and playful lines create another gay anthem for her listeners. Her straightforward sex positive lyrics create an endearing tune, dedicated to inclusivity. Harris goes even further, calling out the hypocrisy of the sexualization of lesbians but the revulsion of gay men by straight men. On a surface level it may seem simple, but Harris is making a powerful statement so few are willing to make.

While Harris’ words and themes may be breaking barriers, “Ephorize” is not free of its faults. The production, while much tighter than before, seems to only follow what many other artists are doing. Some of her tracks do seem to falter into repetitive, monotonous sounds where she delivers the same chorus just a bit too often.

Despite this, “Ephorize” shows Cupcakke’s fullest potential. If fans and other artists give her the support she rightly deserves, we could see Harris change the face of hip-hop and pop. Even without their support, Harris will find a way to make it to the top and every project should continue to exceed our expectations.

 

Troy Kowalchuk can be reached at [email protected]

 

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