WAP (song)

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"WAP"
Cardi B - WAP (feat. Megan Thee Stallion).png
Single by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion
ReleasedAugust 7, 2020 (2020-08-07)
Genre
Length3:07
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Cardi B singles chronology
"Writing on the Wall"
(2019)
"WAP"
(2020)
"Me Gusta"
(2020)
Megan Thee Stallion singles chronology
"Girls in the Hood"
(2020)
"WAP"
(2020)
"Don't Stop"
(2020)
Music video
"WAP" on YouTube

"WAP" (an acronym for "Wet-Ass Pussy"[2][3]) is a song recorded by American rapper Cardi B, featuring vocals from American rapper Megan Thee Stallion. It was released through Atlantic Records on August 7, 2020, as the lead single from Cardi's upcoming second studio album.[4] "WAP" is a hip hop song driven by heavy bass, hip hop drum beats, and a sample of Frank Ski's 1993 Baltimore club single "Whores in This House". In the lyrics, Cardi and Megan discuss how they want men to please them, using several sexual references.

"WAP" received widespread critical acclaim[5][6] for its sex-positive message, while some conservative commentators criticized its explicit nature. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Cardi B her fourth number-one single in the U.S., and extending her record as the female rapper with the most number-one singles in Hot 100 history. It was Megan's second Hot 100 chart-topper. The song broke the record for the largest opening streaming week for a song in United States history and debuted atop the digital, streaming, and hip hop charts. Cardi B became the only female rapper to achieve Hot 100 number-one singles in two different decades (2010s and 2020s). The single spent a total of four weeks atop the chart, while also spending multiple weeks at number one in Australia, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. "WAP" became the first number one single on the inaugural Billboard Global 200, topping the chart for three weeks. "WAP" was the most-acclaimed song of 2020,[7] with publications such as Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and NPR naming it the best song of the year. It was certified sextuple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They performed the song together for the first time at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

The accompanying music video, directed by Colin Tilley, features cameos from several women, including television star Kylie Jenner, singers Normani and Rosalía, and rappers Latto, Sukihana, and Rubi Rose. The video has been described as a confident display of women who demonstrate their sexual prowess. "WAP" broke the record for the biggest 24-hour debut for an all-female collaboration on YouTube. "WAP" earned the position 11 on IFPI's year-end singles chart with only 4 months and 3 weeks of tracking. "WAP" had the most searched lyrics on Google in 2020.[8]

Background and release[edit]

On August 3, 2020, Cardi B revealed that the song was a collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion and simultaneously posted the cover art for the song on her social media.[9] A few days later on August 6, she announced via Instagram that the music video for the song would be released alongside it on August 7, but that the video would feature the censored version of the track.[10]

The song became Cardi's first release of 2020, and Megan's first release following a highly publicized allegedly shooting incident involving her and Tory Lanez, in which Megan sustained injuries from a bullet to her feet.[11]

A censored version was sent to US radio and was used in the music video, as opposed to the original version. In it, the hook is changed from "wet ass pussy" to "wet and gushy", among other censors.[3]

Production and composition[edit]

I'm talking about, without exaggeration, maybe 50 different versions before I arrived at a place like, "Oh shit, I think I got it." So as soon as I had it, the first person I let hear it was Cardi. Cardi is one of them people like, "Alright, well, let me hear it! Let's see what you got!"... The thing you're making sure you do is that they complement each other well, that they sit well on the track together and that, to the listener, it feels fluid to your ear... Two different flows, two different energies, two different accents, two different dictions, two different deliveries. In that moment, it just reminded me of old school hip-hop. Artists don't usually do things like this when they're on the top of their games.

—Brooklyn Johnny in an interview with Billboard[12]

Cardi B wrote and recorded her verses for the track and reworked parts of it several times, constantly revisiting it.[12] She wrote multiple versions of the hook before deciding on the official.[13] Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion first connected through their respective wardrobe stylists. After meeting her in Los Angeles, Cardi told her team that she was considering a collaboration with her. A couple of days later, both were sending tracks to each other.[14] Cardi proposed the idea of sending "WAP", as her business partner Brooklyn Johnny did to Megan's manager. After receiving her verses, the song's engineers started editing and mixing vocals, as well as reworking the beat and the arrangement—particularly, the part of the arrangement of the song that "feels like a hook".[12]

"WAP" is a "raunchy"[15][16][17] hip hop song with heavy bass[18] which heavily samples Frank Ski's 1993 Baltimore club single "Whores in This House".[19][20] Ski teased his involvement in a Twitter post the day before the song's release.[17]

Cardi's voice in the song has been described as "throaty"[18] and "staccato".[21] Lyrically, Cardi and Megan discuss how they want men to please them using a number of sexual metaphors.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

"WAP" received widespread critical acclaim. For Pitchfork, Lakin Starling called it "a nasty-ass rap bop, bursting with the personality of two of rap's most congenial household names", adding, "the detailed play-by-play in the verses doesn't aim to impress guys—and that, the song suggests, is why Cardi and Meg's expertise is credible," as they "center themselves as women in order to freely celebrate their coveted power, sex appeal, and A1 WAP."[18] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times deemed it "an event record that transcends the event itself", and stated that both rappers "are exuberant, sharp and extremely, extremely vividly detailed" in the song that "luxuriates in raunch".[15] Rania Aniftos of Billboard described the song as a "twerk-ready, scorching banger".[22] Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times deemed it a "savage, nasty, sex-positive triumph" and stated that "the women's vocal exuberance is the show—the way they tear into each perfectly rendered lyric and chew up the words like meat".[21] From the same paper, Christi Carras wrote that the song "carries a political weight that men rapping about sex doesn't".[23] For The A.V. Club, Shannon Miller stated that "the anthemic salute to total, unabashed sexual agency" shows both rappers with a "straightforward delivery and collective vibrancy" that "exudes a spirit that is as rebellious as it is fun."[24] Writing for Vulture, Craig Jenkins considered the song "class-A Filth for the ages", writing, "the main thrust here is the lyrics, there is so much thrusting going on in the lyrics".[25] In Stereogum, Chris DeVille commented that the song "has big lead-single energy" as it is "a convergence of two of the biggest stars in rap".[26]

Brianna Holt of Complex wrote, "Both Cardi and Megan are powerhouses of female sexuality, independence, and dominance," and deemed the song "the epitome of female empowerment", adding, "Art like 'WAP' could not be more valuable and necessary during a time when people are actively trying to unlearn their own biases and recognizing ways that they contribute to the neglect of Black women."[27] NBC journalist Susanne Ramírez de Arellano called the song "a joyful role reversal" and "the triumph of delicious filth", writing, "with rapid-fire flow and endlessly quotable one-liners, the two hip hop stars create a female sex-positive anthem as they trade lyrics and grab back the genre's sexual narratives from 'hard' male rappers". She added that "[it] is as honest and tasteful" as a song can get when it is about something like the explicitness of female pleasure and female desire, "that men still consider too vulgar for words".[28] For The Guardian, Dream McClinton wrote, "the hit collaboration between the two rappers has become a belated song of the summer, empowering women and enraging prudes along the way... [it] should be celebrated, not scolded".[29] In NPR, cultural critic Taylor Crumpton deemed both rappers "women leading the genre into [a] new era of unification between women rappers" with "an already iconic song about women sexuality". She praised the message, describing it as "if you need to come, step to me, you have to be able to fill my sexual needs, and these are what they are".[30] In another article from Pitchfork, Jayson Greene said that it "has become the song of this bizarre summer—a ripe, split-open sex jam", deeming it "joyfully explicit", "glorious" and "full of graphic detail".[31] Raisa Bruner of Time mentioned that "few rappers today have the cultural cache" of Cardi and Megan, trading verses "with barely a break to catch a breath" and "their shared sense of humor, playfulness and eyebrow-raising delight."[32]

Reaction from conservative figures[edit]

"WAP" has been criticized by many social conservatives in the United States. James P. Bradley, a health industry executive who was running for a California congressional seat on the Republican ticket, said he heard the song accidentally; he wrote on Twitter, "Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure," adding that the song made him want to "pour holy water" in his ears.[33] His response was criticized across social media, with users questioning the validity of Bradley's supposedly "accidental" discovery of the song and finding his criticism of the rappers as role models for young women hypocritical due to his support of Donald Trump.[34][35] August Brown of the Los Angeles Times wrote that, contrary to Bradley's comments, Megan "did indeed have a strong father figure" and Cardi "is no stranger to faith".[33]

Another former congressional candidate from California, DeAnna Lorraine, expressed similar distaste for the song, writing, "Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion just set the entire female gender back by 100 years with their disgusting & vile 'WAP' song," noting that Cardi received support from Democratic United States Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.[28][36] Lorraine was criticized on social media for her statements, in part for claiming to encourage the empowerment of women while undermining a song performed by two women, which many users considered hypocritical.[37][35] Megan Thee Stallion responded to her comments sarcastically in an interview with GQ, saying "girl, you literally had to go to YouTube or to your Apple Music to go listen to this song in its entirety. How are you in your Republican world even finding your way over here to talk about this? You must not have no WAP if you're mad at this song".[38]

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro criticized the song's message, sarcastically stating, "This is what feminism fought for," in a video that includes him giving a plain reading of the song's lyrics, many of which he self-censors.[39] Shapiro was widely mocked by social media users, as well as on Desus & Mero, for his reading of it.[40][41][42][43] A viral remix of Shapiro reading the lyrics was made by DJ iMarkKeyz, who had previously gained notoriety for his remix of Cardi's rant on COVID-19.[44]

Conservative commentator Tucker Carlson criticized the song on his talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News, saying that "it's aimed at young American girls—maybe your girls, your granddaughters and what is it doing to them? Can you imagine what it's doing to them?", adding, "the people pushing it clearly are trying to hurt your children".[45]

Conservative online website The Federalist's contributor Libby Emmons gave the song a negative review, calling it "a slip 'n slide down a rabbit hole of grossness" and "incredibly boring musically". Emmons further wrote "It's brazen and brash, and we're probably meant to believe it's empowering, but what it really does is deprive sex of mystery and remove seduction from the process."[46]

On her Twitter account, Cardi wrote, "I can't believe conservatives soo mad about WAP,"[47][48] and responded to an article stating that conservatives wanted the song banned by saying, "This is kinda iconic and I'm living for it."[49] Megan Thee Stallion responded to the backlash in an interview with Time, saying, "When I saw all of the politicians in an uproar about mine and Cardi's 'WAP', I was just really taken aback. Like, why is this your focus right now? If you have an issue with what I’m saying, don’t listen to it."[50] For Rolling Stone, editor Charles Holmes wrote, "When the right wing gets mad about two women of color rapping about sex, it's not a coincidence...four days after its initial release, 'WAP' has transformed from a supremely enjoyable Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion song into a symbol of something different, yet equally interesting", adding "contrary to popular belief, Republicans aren't offended by the thought of sex...what they are furious about is the racial and economic make-up of who gets to enjoy and speak about sex".[51] Cassie Da Costa of The Daily Beast called Shapiro and Bradley's statements about the song "puritanical pearl-clutching", opining that they "constitute the kind of performative moral panics that are so baldly opportunistic as to render them banal".[52] Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post opined that outraged conservatives that "attack raunchy or violent pop culture always" promote an idea that "culture should be smaller rather than more expansive" and further added, "honestly, we could use more culture that isn't appropriate for everyone".[53] In The Boston Globe, Ty Burr criticized "[the] outraged commentators who feel that it's too sexual, too vulgar", writing, "Vulgar sexuality is a hallowed aspect of American popular culture and has been even before Elvis Presley dry-humped the microphone stand on The Milton Berle Show in 1956."[54]

Other responses[edit]

British comedian Russell Brand posted a video to social media entitled "WAP: Feminist Masterpiece or Porn?", in which he discussed whether or not the song and accompanying video were truly empowering to women, asking whether women "achieve equality by aspiring to and replicating the values that have been established by males", calling the song "a sort of capitalist objectification and commodification of, in this case, the female." He went on to compare the song's feminism to that of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, who he said was not a feminist as she was "extolling [and] espousing male values".[55][56] Brand received backlash for his comments online, and many social media users accused Brand of mansplaining feminism.[57][58][59] Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Katie Glass called Brand a hypocrite for lecturing people on feminism in spite of being "a man who humiliated a woman who'd slept with him by taunting her grandfather about it on national radio...[and] who has joked about his sexual prowess," and for criticizing the video's supposed promotion of capitalism shortly after allegedly purchasing a $3 million mansion in Hollywood Hills and owning a £3.3 million home in Oxfordshire.[60]

In an interview for Far Out Magazine which came out two days after the release of "WAP", American singer CeeLo Green criticized Cardi and Megan for having adult content in their lyrics, saying, "Attention is also a drug...Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, they are all more or less doing similar salacious gesturing to kinda get into position. I get it, the independent woman and being in control, the divine femininity and sexual expression...[but] it comes at what cost?" which many assumed was a direct reference to "WAP".[61][62] Many social media users and critics accused Green of sexism and hypocrisy due to Green's own use of "adult content" in his lyrics, as well as his 2014 tweets in which he claimed that rape cannot occur if the victim is unconscious.[63][64] Green later apologized for his comments via Instagram, writing that there was a "misunderstanding" regarding his quote, and going on to say that "as a fan" of the mentioned female rappers "I would never disrespect them all as powerful, beautiful, and influential women," also writing, "I wholeheartedly apologize to each of them for the inconvenience they have been caused due to a snippet of my interview being used as a headline."[65]

Australian journalist Wendy Squires criticised "WAP" in The Sydney Morning Herald, calling it "a piece of sensationalist schlock that reinforces misogynistic views of women as mere receptacles".[66]

TikTok[edit]

The song became highly popular on social media service TikTok, with millions of videos showing up of people performing a "floor-caressing 'WAP' dance" to the WAP.[67] The dance routine that went viral was first recorded by YouTube choreographer Brian Esperon of Guam and features a high kick, gyrations on the floor and ends with the splits.[68] It was recorded and posted to social media the same day as the track's release and re-shared by Cardi B to Instagram and Twitter. It garnered hundreds of thousands of views and led to the "WAP Challenge" on TikTok,[69] with the related hashtag racking up more than 1.5+ billion views in one month.[70] Jennifer Lopez released a WAP Challenge TikTok video based on Esperon's choreography assembled from dance clips in her movie Hustlers (which Cardi B also starred in).[71]

Accolades[edit]

Rankings[edit]

"WAP" appeared on many year-end best-of lists, with several critics identifying it as the best song of the year. The following is a selected list of publications.

Critical rankings for "WAP"
Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
BBC The Best Singles of 2020 1 [7]
Billboard The Best Songs of 2020 5 [72]
The 20 Best Rap Songs of 2020 2 [73]
The 25 Best Music Videos of 2020 3 [74]
Complex The Best Songs of 2020 5 [75]
The Best Music Videos of 2020 1 [76]
Esquire The 25 Best Songs of 2020 Placed [77]
Genius The 50 Best Songs of 2020 1 [78]
The Guardian The 20 Best Songs of 2020 2 [79]
IndieWire The Best Music Videos of 2020 4 [80]
Los Angeles Times The 50 Best Songs of 2020 Placed [81]
The New York Times (Jon Caramanica) Best Songs of 2020 7 [82]
NME The 50 best songs of 2020 1 [83]
Pitchfork The 100 Best Songs of 2020 1 [84]
The 36 Best Rap Songs of 2020 Placed [85]
The Plain Dealer The 25 Best Songs of 2020 1 [86]
Rolling Stone The 50 Best Songs of 2020 1 [87]
The Best Pop Collaborations of 2020 Placed [88]
The 100 Greatest Music Videos 93 [88]
Spotify Today's Top Hits' Best Pop Songs of 2020 3 [89]
RapCaviar's Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2020 2 [90][91]
Time The 10 Best Songs of 2020 2 [32]
Uproxx The 45 Best Songs of 2020 1 [92]
USA Today The 10 Best Songs of 2020 4 [93]
Vice The Best Songs of 2020 1 [94]
Vogue The 29 Best Songs of 2020 Placed [95]
Vulture The Best Music Videos of 2020 2 [96]

Industry awards[edit]

Awards and nominations for "WAP"
Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2020 American Music Awards Favorite Song – Rap/Hip-Hop Won [97]
Collaboration of the Year Nominated
ARIA Charts Awards ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart Number One Awards Won [98]
Capricho Awards Feat. of 2020 Nominated [99]
Hiphop.de Awards Bester Song International Won [100]
Bestes Video International Nominated
HipHopDX Awards Best Hip-Hop Music Video of 2020 Nominated [101]
MTV Video Music Awards Song of Summer Nominated [102]
MTV Europe Music Awards Best Video Nominated [103]
Best Collaboration Nominated
Music Daily Awards Best Female Song Nominated [104]
Collaboration of the Year Nominated
Best Viral TikTok Song Nominated
Best Music Video Nominated
NMPA Awards Gold Single Won [105]
3x Multi-Platinum Single Won
Official Charts Awards Official Singles Chart Top 100 Number One Won [106]
Official Singles Top 40 Number One Won [107]
People's Choice Awards Song of 2020 Nominated [108]
Music Video of 2020 Nominated
Collaboration of 2020 Won
Prêmio POP Mais Hit Internacional Won [109]
Soul Train Music Awards Rhythm & Bars Award Nominated [110]
That Grape Juice: End of Year Awards Single of the Year Nominated [111]
The Michael Jackson Video of the Year Award Nominated
Best Collaboration Nominated
Urban Bridgez Honors Best Hip-Hop Single of the Year Nominated [112]
WOWIE Awards Outstanding Collaboration Song Nominated [113]
2021 Gold Derby Music Awards Best Music Video Nominated [114][115]
Record of the Year Nominated
GAFFA Awards (Denmark) Best Foreign Song Nominated [116]
iHeartRadio Music Awards Best Music Video Nominated [117]
TikTok Bop of the Year Nominated
ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards Winning Songs Won [118]
Berlin Music Video Awards Best Art Director Shortlisted [119]
Official Charts Awards UK Specialist Number One Award for Streaming Number One Won [120]
UK Specialist Number One Award for Audio Streaming Number One Won [120]
UK Specialist Number One Award for Hip-Hop/R&B Number One Won [120]
UK Specialist Number One Award for Official Irish Singles Number One Won [120]
Top Music Universe Awards Song of the Year Nominated [121]
SEC Awards Música Internacional do Ano Nominated [122]
Prêmio Tudo Information Música Feat Internacional Nominated [123]
Gloden Bop Awards Awards Best UK Number One Nominated [124]
Best Music Video Nominated
Best Sample or Interpolation Nominated
Pop Hub Awards Best Rap Video Won [125]
Žabřík Awards Best International Music Video Nominated [126]
Planeta Awards Hit Song 25 Nominated [127]
Billboard Music Awards Top Rap Song Nominated [128]
Top Selling Song Nominated
Top Streaming Song Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Video of the Year Nominated [129]
Song of the Year Nominated
Best Collaboration Nominated
Best Hip-Hop Nominated
NMPA Awards 5x Multi-Platinum Single Won [105]
BET Awards Video of the Year Won [130]
Best Collaboration Won
Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award Nominated
Bulletin Awards Music Video of the Year Nominated [131]
Collaboration of the Year Nominated [132]
Meme Awards Best Musical Meme Won [133]
BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards Most Performed R&B/Hip-Hop Song Won [134]
BET Hip Hop Awards Song of the Year Pending [135]
Best Hip-Hop Video Pending
Best Collaboration Pending

Track listing[edit]

  • CD single
  1. "WAP"
  2. "WAP" (Amended)
  3. "WAP" (Radio Edit)
  4. "WAP" (Instrumental)

Music video[edit]

The song's video, directed by Colin Tilley, was released simultaneously with the song and uses the alternate clean version of the song.[136] It was shot in July 2020 in West Hollywood, California.[137] Cardi said that over $100,000+ was spent getting COVID-19 testing for everyone on set.[138] Garnering over 26 million views in its first day, "WAP" broke the record for the biggest 24-hour debut for an all-female collaboration on YouTube.[27] It also set a record for biggest US debut on YouTube, accumulating 55 million views in one week in the region[139] beating 6ix9ine's previous record that year with "Gooba."[140]

A month before filming, Tilley and Cardi B had initial conversations about how the video would look like stylistically, with the director proposing a "trippy and fun" place that has "a little bit more innocence than the song has", saying, "When you see that kind of juxtaposition as far as the imagery versus what they're saying, it really does kinda make it this really bizarre experience." Tilley stated that the concept for the set presents "a perfect balance of matching the elegance and how extravagant a mansion could really be, also adding those very surreal factors to it that made it its own personal world". Cardi proposed the idea of a snake-filled room and a leopard print room with matching wardrobe.[139] Patience Foster, the video's co-creative director, said that Cardi proposed the idea of "a house full of powerful women" without exclusions.[141]

Days after the video's release, Cardi created an OnlyFans account to share behind-the-scenes footage from the video, along with other exclusive non-explicit content.[142] The footage was later uploaded to her YouTube channel.[143]

Synopsis[edit]

Cardi and Megan in the mansion rooms covered in animal print and Willy Wonka-esque design, respectively.[144][145]

The video shows Cardi and Megan walking through a colorful mansion, and showcases different rooms throughout it, with water dripping through different doorways.[16] Cardi and Megan open the video in the mansion hallway, wearing custom Nicolas Jebran dresses, with long trains, opera gloves, and matching updos. During Cardi's first verse they also appear in a snake-filled room. For this transition, the door knocker comes alive as a snake and eats the camera.[139] The next scene shows both rappers in a green and purple room wearing Thierry Mugler outfits, composed of a corset bodice, mesh tights and sleeves, with Megan performing her first verse. Kylie Jenner then walks through to a hallway to where Cardi B is. For her second verse, Cardi appears in a leopard-themed room, wearing a matching long-sleeved bodysuit with cut-outs in the front and pasties, also by Mugler, with leopards surrounding her. Megan appears in a white tiger-themed bathroom with white tigers around her in a black-and-white Juraj Zigman garment.[146] The pool scene includes a dance routine choreographed by JaQuel Knight and performed by both artists.[147][11][148][144][149] The video also includes cameos from Jenner, Normani, Rosalía, Latto, Rubi Rose, and Sukihana.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Writing for Billboard, Trevor Anderson commented that "[the] widely viewed music video transformed from just a promotional clip into a pop-culture phenomenon".[150] Claire Shaffer and Althea Legaspi of Rolling Stone called the video "steamy" and "sensual".[147] Chris Murphy of Vulture described the video as "very Dr. Seuss, but make it NSFW in a fun way".[11] In Complex, Brianna Holt commented, "during a time when Black women have taken to social media to advocate for their protection and support, while basking in their blackness, the music video couldn't be more timely." She described the set as "a mansion full of women who are demonstrative of their sexual prowess, with unmatched confidence".[27] Writing for The Guardian, Dream McClinton deemed the video "unapologetic in celebrating the sensuality and sexuality of women," adding, "it isn't shy or coy, it's about the loud articulation of female desire for sex, as they want it, and it centres them as active participants with agency".[29] Burr in The Boston Globe argued that the same adults "who are up in arms over Cardi B on YouTube today" due to the video's "in-your-face outrageousness" celebrated sexually charged music videos on MTV 30 years ago, questioning if people "forget the youthful yearning to be free" when they become parents. He further added that the reason why "the rococo visual matters" is that it shows what it looks like "when a woman of color takes charge, which is still taboo in many corners of this country".[54]

Rosenberg of The Washington Post described the video as "an ode to female sexual pleasure" that is among the most sexually explicit content she has ever seen in mainstream American popular culture, and opined that in a "weird year" like 2020 "a culture-war clash feels refreshingly normal".[53] Micha Frazer-Carroll of The Independent deemed the "absurdist" video "ludicrously excessive but utterly hypnotic" that "feels as if it were taking place in an alternative universe."[151] In IndieWire, Leonardo Adrian Garcia considered it "a mix of Hype Williams and Tim Burton by way of the strip club", further adding that "it's a video that demands one’s attention" and "deserves praise" despite the "lightning rod for very dumb controversy" that generated.[80]

Writing for Pitchfork, Eric Torres considered it the best music video released in August 2020, writing that it is "easily one of the best of the year", also deeming it "a vibrant display of self-empowerment that could only come from two of rap's most brazenly sex-positive voices".[152] In Complex, Jessica McKinney stated that the video created "an inescapable pop culture moment" that "completely dominated the conversation" with "vivid imagery, glamorous costumes, trippy effects, and dynamic choreography", further adding that it "set the standard for quality videos in 2020, calling for other artists to put more thought and effort into their visuals as we move into the new year."[76]

Other responses[edit]

Fan reactions to Kylie Jenner's cameo in the video were markedly negative.[153][154][155] Many social media users expressed displeasure with her appearance in a video whose cast mainly consisted of Black women, especially considering her history of alleged cultural appropriation.[156][157] A petition on Change.org which aimed to remove Jenner from the video received over 65,000+ signatures, while a number of Twitter users suggested replacing Jenner with Lil' Kim or Betty White.[158][159]

Cardi later tweeted, explaining that she put Jenner in the video because Jenner (and her partner Travis Scott) were close friends of hers and Offset, further stating, "Not everything is about race."[160] Foster referred to the petition as "bullshit".[141]

Tiger King star and Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin spoke out against the use of big cats in the video. In a statement for Billboard, she said, "It glamorizes the idea of rich people having tigers as pets. That makes every ignorant follower want to imitate by doing the same," adding that, based on the posing of the cats, "They probably dealt with one of the big cat pimps, who makes a living from beating, shocking and starving cats to make them stand on cue in front of a green screen in a studio."[161][162] Cardi responded in an interview with Vice, saying "I'm not gonna engage with Carole Baskin on that...Like, that's just ridiculous, you know?...Like, girl you killed your goddamn husband."[163] Representatives from PETA similarly took issue with the use of big cats in the video, saying in another statement to Billboard, "if real animals were used instead of computer-generated imagery, the message sent is that animal exploitation is Okurrr—and it isn't. If Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion really care about pussy liberation, they wouldn't use suffering big cats as props."[164]

Commercial performance[edit]

North America[edit]

The song debuted at number one on United States Spotify songs chart with over 2.34 million streams, becoming the first female rap collaboration to do so.[165] "WAP" also debuted at number one on the US Apple Music songs chart—the platform's highest ever debut by a female artist—extending Cardi B's record as the female artist with the most chart-toppers in the service (7).[166]

"WAP" debuted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, garnering Cardi B her fourth chart-topper in the US, extending her record as the female rapper with the most number-one singles, and marked Megan's second number-one single. "WAP" became the first female rap collaboration to debut at number one on the Hot 100. Cardi B also became the only female rapper to achieve Hot 100 number one singles in two different decades (2010s and 2020s).[166] The song was driven by 93 million streams, 125,000 downloads and 11.6 million radio airplay impressions. Multiple autographed physical/digital combinations on Cardi B's webstore contributed to the sales figure in the tracking week. As the song topped the Billboard Digital Song Sales and Streaming Songs charts, it became Cardi's third chart-topper on the latter and fourth on the former, and Megan's second on both. The 93 million streaming total became the largest first-week streams for a song in Billboard history, besting the previous record held by Ariana Grande's "7 Rings" (85.3 million), and earned the most weekly streams for a song in 2020, surpassing the 77.2 million total of Roddy Ricch's "The Box", It actually earned the biggest streaming week for a female song overall, but Billboard started removing YouTube's user generated content in 2020. "WAP" also generated the most weekly on-demand US audio streams among songs by female artists, with 54.7 million streams, again surpassing "7 Rings", and earned the largest sales week for a song since Taylor Swift's "Me!" featuring Brendon Urie (193,000 copies). "WAP" further reached number-one on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Rap Songs charts, marking Cardi's fifth number-one entry on the former and fourth on the latter, and Megan's second on both.[167] "WAP" became the 23rd number-one song to achieve at least twice the weekly Hot 100 points of the runner-up title, which was "Rockstar" by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch that week, with Billboard calling it "one of the most dominant Hot 100 number ones of the last 30 years".[150] "WAP" was certified gold by the RIAA seven days after its release.

"WAP" became the first song to spend its first two weeks at number one on the Hot 100 since Grande's "7 Rings". In between those chart-toppers, eight songs debuted at number one, each spending a single week at the summit. Of the 42 songs that have entered the chart at number one since the Hot 100 started in 1958, 19 including "WAP" remained on top in their second weeks. "WAP" also became the first song among female artists to lead the Hot 100 for multiple weeks since Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" topped for three weeks in December 2019–January 2020.[168] For the chart issue dated September 26, "WAP" achieved a fourth non-consecutive week atop the chart, surpassing "Bodak Yellow" as Cardi B's longest-running number one single as a lead artist on the Hot 100.[169]

"WAP" debuted at number one on the Rolling Stone Top 100 chart, where it has spent seven non-consecutive weeks atop.[170] "WAP" also debuted at number one on the Canadian Hot 100, becoming Cardi B's second chart-topper and Megan's first. It has spent four non-consecutive weeks atop the chart.[171]

"WAP" was the most streamed song of 2020 in the US by a female artist, with 732.7 million on-demand streams, ranking sixth among all.[172] In the US, Cardi has achieved three times the best-performing song of the year by a female artist—the only act to do so this century—with "WAP" (2020) joining "Bodak Yellow" (2017) and "I Like It" (2018).[173]

Europe and Oceania[edit]

In Australia, "WAP" became the third female hip hop song to top the ARIA Singles Chart, and the first since 1992.[174] It has spent six weeks atop the chart, becoming the longest-running number one song by a female hip hop artist in the country, surpassing the previous record set by Salt-N-Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex".[175]

In the United Kingdom, "WAP" debuted at number four on the UK Singles Chart on the August 14–August 20, 2020 weekly chart. During its fourth consecutive week on the chart, "WAP" reached the top of the UK Singles Chart on the September 4–September 10, 2020 chart―becoming both Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's first chart-topper in Britain, as well as the first female rap collaboration to top the UK Singles Chart.[176][177] The song spent three weeks at the top of the chart before it was followed by "Mood" by 24kGoldn featuring Iann Dior.[178]

In the Republic of Ireland, it became the first number one single for both artists on the Irish Singles Chart, where it has spent three weeks at the top.[179]

In New Zealand, "WAP" debuted at number two on the Official New Zealand Music Chart, peaking at the top of the chart the following week, becoming Cardi B's second chart-topper and Megan's first chart-topper in New Zealand. It has remained atop the chart for six weeks in the country.[180]

Worldwide[edit]

The song debuted at number six on global Spotify 3.75 million streams. Shortly after, "WAP" topped the global Spotify chart, making Cardi B the only female rapper to top the chart multiple times—following her collaboration with DJ Snake "Taki Taki",[166] and becoming the first female rap collaboration to do so.[165] It also became the fastest song by a female artist to reach number one on global Apple Music.[166] The music video broke the record for the most views within 24 hours for a female collaboration, with over 26.5 million views.[27] Cardi B was ranked at number one on Bloomberg's August 2020 Pop Star Power Ranking due to the success of "WAP".[181] She also set a record for most monthly listeners on Spotify for a female rapper, surpassing 50.9 million.[182] Released in August, it was the 20th most streamed song of 2020 in global Apple Music, the most streamed female rap song, and the most-read song lyrics on the platform.[183][184]

During the first week of the Billboard Global 200 chart, which tracks the most streamed and digitally sold songs in over 200 territories, and their Global Excl. US chart, which tracks the same metrics outside of the United States, "WAP" debuted at number one on the Global 200 chart, with 100.9 million global streams and 23,000 global downloads, making it the first number-one on the chart, and at number three on the Global Excl. US Chart during the charts inaugural week of September 4, 2020.[185][186] It has topped the Global 200 chart for three non-consecutive weeks.[187]

Live performances[edit]

"WAP" was first performed by Megan Thee Stallion, airing via a Tidal Live performance on August 29, 2020.[188]

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion performed the song together for the first time at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, airing on CBS on March 14, 2021.[189] Grammys host Trevor Noah prefaced the performance with, "If you have small children in the room, just tell them it's a song about giving a cat a bath", and the chorus "wet and gushy," was changed to "wet, wet, wet".[190] Cardi B opened the medley performing "Up", then pole danced on the heel of a giant stiletto to "WAP". Joined by Megan Thee Stallion, wearing silver armor-like leotards, they crawled around and performed intricate choreography on a massive bed.[191] Billboard ranked it as the best performance of the ceremony, commenting that "this had to be one of the most insane television debut performances of all time."[192] Music critic Jon Caramanica called the performance "wildly and charmingly salacious, frisky and genuine in a way that the Grammys has rarely if ever made room for".[193] However, the performance received criticism for being "non family-friendly".[194]

Cover versions[edit]

On August 10, rapper Safaree released a "refix" of the song called "B.A.D" (an acronym for Big Ass Dick). The cover art features Cardi and Megan on both ends, with a woman (assumed to be his wife Erica Mena) performing simulated oral sex on him in the center. In it, he brags about the size of his penis while also referencing his leaked nudes from February 2018.[195] Cardi herself reacted to the remix via Twitter, writing "Omgggggg @IAMSAFAREE you are too naughty".[196] The remix was widely panned by fans on social media.[197] Many found the remix to be poorly timed, considering how soon after the song's original release it came.[198] The same day, dancehall singer Vybz Kartel released a freestyle remix while in prison, which was met with enthusiasm from Cardi.[199]

Rapper Plies released a "P-Mix" to the song on August 14,[200] to positive reception.[201][202] Country singer Margo Price performed a "mellow"[203] acoustic rendition of "WAP" on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, as part of a segment on double standards about sex in music.[204] Rolling Stone's Claire Shaffer said of the cover, "Price puts her genuine all into the song, and it comes out sounding like a legitimate country ode to 'wet ass pussy.'"[205] Also on August 14, rapper Queen Key released a remix to the song entitled "BAP" (an acronym for "Blessed Ass Pussy") along with a music video directed by Lawrence Mahone.[206] YouTube parody artist Lardi B posted a food-based parody of the song, changing the acronym from "Wet Ass Pussy" to "Wings and Pizza", on August 14.[207]

Also that day, rapper R.A. the Rugged Man released a remix entitled "Wet Ass P-Word".[208] Rapper Qveen Herby released a baroque pop cover version of the song as a promotional single on August 20.[209] Drag queens Lady Bunny and Flotilla DeBarge released a parody of the song, entitled "DAP" (or Dry Ass Pussy), on August 28.[210] A remix set to the 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera's main theme was posted to TikTok, where Andrew Lloyd Webber, the musical's composer, posted a video playing the piano to it.[211] Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro performed a cover of the song for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on September 3, 2020.[212]

Impact[edit]

A song that has managed to balance attention-grabbing with staying power is perhaps the mother of all 2020 collaborations, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s gloriously libidinous "WAP." [It] was a powerful show of solidarity between two contemporaries who—had they emerged a generation or two ago, when plenty of people in the music industry believed the self-fulfilling lie that only one successful female rapper could exist at a time—might have been pitted against each other as rivals. Instead, "WAP" finds them showcasing their differing though complementary musical personalities and weathering the reactionary conservative backlash to the track...

— Lindsay Zoladz, The New York Times.[213]

In The Wall Street Journal, Neil Shah considered it "a big moment for female rappers" and "a historic sign that women artists are making their mark on hip-hop like never before".[214] In The New York Times, Ben Sisario commented that it "is almost certainly the most explicit song ever to reach the top".[215] Similarly, Slate staff deemed it "the dirtiest and most sexually-explicit Hot 100 number one of all time".[216] Nick Levine of the BBC stated that the success of the song as "[a] celebration of female sexual agency" creates space for many more female artists "to write unselfconsciously about what they want."[217] Carl Lamarre of Billboard stated that the song's success has "a deeper significance", describing it as "a clever Trojan horse for the myriad ways Cardi influences the culture with every move she makes."[218] In an article for The Independent about what the song's commercial achievement says about the changing shape of the music industry, Micha Frazer-Carroll stated that "the undeniable smash of the year captured the spirit of 2020".[151] Complex staff named it the song "that had the most pure impact" in 2020, with it being an "empowering anthem" largely because is "a record-breaking song performed by two Black women."[75] Rolling Stone staff commented that the public outrage from conservative figures contributed to the song's "pop-cultural impact."[88] Writers from USA Today and Glamour considered it "a pop-culture phenomenon" as well.[93][219]

Netflix docuseries History of Swear Words (2021) cited "WAP" and the reaction it caused during the episode "Pu**y".[220] W magazine credited the "WAP" music video for popularizing the Mugler bodysuit in the mainstream, as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion performed verses wearing it in a Willy Wonka-inspired set.[221]

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[222]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[284] 4× Platinum 280,000double-dagger
Austria (IFPI Austria)[285] Gold 15,000double-dagger
Belgium (BEA)[286] Gold 20,000double-dagger
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[287] Diamond 160,000double-dagger
Canada (Music Canada)[288] 2× Platinum 160,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[289] Gold 45,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[290] Gold 100,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[291] Platinum 70,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[292] 2× Platinum 60,000double-dagger
Norway (IFPI Norway)[293] Platinum 60,000double-dagger
Poland (ZPAV)[294] Platinum 20,000double-dagger
Portugal (AFP)[295] Platinum 10,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[296] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[297] 6× Platinum 6,000,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for "WAP"
Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various August 6, 2020 Warner [298][299]
August 7, 2020 Atlantic [300]
Italy Contemporary hit radio Warner [301]

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