Music

Cardi B was criticized for not letting her daughter listen to WAP – can she ever win?


Cardi B this week came under fire after sheltering her toddler daughter from explicitly sexual music. The Bronx-raised rapper was dancing to her own song, WAP – decried for its sexually explicit lyrics – when her two-year-old, Kulture, came into the room. In a video now widely circulated, Cardi can be seen panicking and turning the song off – which led to cries of: “If your daughter can’t hear it why make the song period.”

We should have known, when the song was first released that people would take issue because it openly celebrates female pleasure. One Republican candidate running for Senate called the track: “What happens when children are raised without God”.

But it is hard not to view this as a fear of Black female sexuality rather than an expression of feminism or moral outrage. For those whose issue with the song was supposedly about the sexually explicit nature, what about other hit songs by men of the same genre like Throat Baby, Nasty Girl, and Drankin N Smokin? As Megan Thee Stallion, who co-authored the song, put it: “Lol dudes will scream ‘slob on my knob’ word for word and crying abt WAP bye lil boy.”

Cardi B’s husband Offset’s verse in Birkin, included lines about serving and obeying a man in exchange for a luxury item, and yet, nobody worried about Kulture then.

For decades, the simple act of Black women moving to new cities has generated moral panics around sexually degeneracy. As academics at Rutgers University put it in 2015: “representations of Black women in US popular culture and public discourse frequently depicts them as … in need of policing for moral failures.”

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In this second wave of backlash, people lambasted Cardi for creating a song that her “daughter can’t listen to” but “everybody else’s daughter can”. It is interesting that they see themselves as less able than Cardi to simply switch it off. Called a hypocrite, Cardi responded: “I don’t make music for kids, I make music for adults. Parents are responsible on what their children listen to or see. I’m a very sexual person but not around my child just like every other parent should be.”

Forbidding children from adult content is not unusual. A 2016 study found that 95% of parents with children between the ages of 13 and 17 have talked with their teen about appropriate music and TV to consume. It comes as no surprise that Cardi, like many other parents, turned off a song that featured sexually explicit lyrics – even if they were her own.

But people seemed more bothered with the artist creating music that they don’t want their own children to be exposed to, while criticizing Cardi for making the same parental choices they do. Would upset listeners have preferred Cardi to increase the volume and sing “bring a bucket and a mop for this wet-ass pussy” to Kulture instead?

If adults can’t stop their children from engaging in the same activities that we do, where does that leave all of us who drink, smoke and have sex? Is it not possible to enjoy things, work in industries, or live a lifestyle that you wouldn’t want your child to have knowledge of at a young age? All things considered, it just seems like another case of Black women never being able to catch a break.

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