November 11, 2016

CupcakKe: A Rebellious Musical Star

Affinity Magazine gave me the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite (if not my only) rappers. We spoke on all sorts of topics such as her religious upbringing, who she sees herself as a gay icon and how the process behind her groundbreaking new album, Audacious, was similar (or different) to her previous two albums (Cum Cake and S.T.D.).


A couple weeks ago, Affinity Magazine gave me the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite (if not my only) rappers. We spoke on all sorts of topics such as her religious upbringing, who she sees herself as a gay icon and how the process behind her groundbreaking new album, Audacious, was similar (or different) to her previous two albums (Cum Cake and S.T.D.). Here lies a never before seen CupcakKe – or in this case, Elizabeth Harris.

Fernando Reyes: How did it feel for your album, S.T.D, to be named one of the best rap albums of 2016 by Rolling Stone? Did it give you a certain feeling of motivation or confidence?
Elizabeth Harris: I think it was more of a.. “Did I really just get put in Rolling Stone Magazine?” Like it was just amazing. It didn’t give me confidence but it definitely got to me, like “Damn, I’m in Rolling Stone,” so for this one to be in Rolling Stone, my next project gotta be 10 times better because I gotta top it, I can not slack. So when I released Audacious, it was just like, Audacious is the best one.

FR: The album is really good; I’ve been listening to it a lot. It’s definitely your best album. Do you ever feel challenges being a black woman and talking explicitly about sexuality?
EH: It’s not a challenge. I feel like whatever a guy can do and say, a female should be an able to say the same thing. If a guy can say he want his private sucked, then why can’t a female say that she wants her private sucked? It’s the same thing. It goes both ways. But when a female say it, it’s like, “Oh my god, she did not just say that.” Well yeah, I just did.

EH: Oh my god, it was so good.

FR: Do you see CupcakKe as an alter ego to you? Someone completely different?
EH: Yeah, definitely. CupcakKe is definitely an alter ego.

FR:You also have a song on your name album, Audacious, called ‘lgbt.’
EH: Lit.

FR: It’s one of the best songs actually. It officially stamped you as sort of a gay icon. How does that feel? What do you think?
EH: I stand for the LGBT community. Period. I don’t know, and this was way before rap, I had been standing up for a long time because I feel like people treat gays and you know, the LGBT community, f*cked up, to be honest. They treat them like sh*t basically and I feel like everyone should be treated equally. They’re always like, “Why did he decide to date a man?” Bitch because he wants to. I feel like everyone has their life, leave them the f*ck alone. Let them do them, and you do you. Move on. Why you trying to control somebody else’s life? When I see people messing with gays.. they gonna get f*cked up, not in front of me.

FR: I think to your fans, – me being one of them – you were already sort of a gay icon, but now that song did give a stamp of approval, like, “Yeah, I accept and you know everything in between.” You also took an emotional approach to your single “Picking Cotton.” What was the inspiration behind that song?
EH: Picking Cotton was for police.. I feel like they [police] f*ck with us so bad, and it was just sort of, a message basically. People..police…ah, this is gonna make me cry. But, it was a message to not treat – especially blacks – in a f*cked up way. Like I said, I love every race, but it’s more blacks getting shot by the cops nowadays and sh*t like that, so I was directing it to the cops. And it wasn’t nothing racist, it was just a message. Even with the gays, everybody – no matter your skin, no matter if you sucking d*ck, no matter if you gay, no matter what color you are. Everyone should be treated equally. No matter what. It’s just fucked up that the cops shooting motherf*ckers, and you know it’s not even just black lives matter; it’s all lives matter, that’s very true. But I feel like at the moment, they just more black dying from police brutality. To be honest. It was just a message to the cops. You know, just stop. Just stop. We human just like you is. We probably have a different skin complexion, but we all human. We all equal.

FR: Yeah, yeah. So it was sort of like your stance on Black Lives Matter and the entire movement?
EH: Yeah, definitely.

FR: And then you also took an emotional approach on the song “Jesus” which sort of expresses your beliefs on well, Jesus. Was it inspired by your religious upbringing? I did a lot of research on you before the interview and I read you were raised very much Christian. What was the process behind that song?
EH: For Cum Cake and S.T.D album it was just like, I’m writing and whatever song comes to mind, well I’ll put it on the project. But this one was more like, I strategized, like I wanted to do a song for each. So I know that I got the lgbt – loves me, so why not do a song for them? Let’s do a drill song because I do got them fans that love the streets, you know what I’m saying? Let’s do a freaky song for the ones who love the freaky side of me. So I thought to myself, “I’ve never done a song on being Christian” so why not? And I just wrote it and it took me back to being the little girl being in the church, you know when I was a little girl in the church just doing my poetry. So I just went back to that place for one moment and pictured it in my head and just started writing it like I was in the church and I wanted to feel like I was at the church for that particular moment. So why not do a song for the church, it was just something different.

FR: It was just kind of, like, a throwback. Like you were just reminiscing on the past.
EH: Yeah! Yeah, definitely.

FR: Audacious is also – like I said earlier – it’s a really more mature album, it’s really well put together. The production is amazing. Was the process different compared to your previous albums? How was it?
EH: It wasn’t different, but it was more like I knew what I wanted. Like I said, with Cum Cake and S.T.D, it was like, “Oh, well.” Like with the Cum Cake project, I took songs that had already been released and just put it on the album, like, “Okay, well I’m just going to go ahead and put this on the album. I already got 7, 8 or – if I’m not mistaken – 9 new songs and the rest, I’m just going to take the already released.” But for this album, I was just like, “I want all brand new songs, something they’ve never heard. And just want to give them me. I just want to give them a deeper side of me.” The process was just more creative. Like you said, more mature, more creative and just more me.

FR: The album is great. I like it a lot. And also, your album has a lot of references to your online presence. Did you also take inspiration from there? You know, your fans, your ‘stans?’

EH: Yes! Keep Hoes Alive. Every time I post something Twitter, anytime I post anything the stans be like, “Queen! Queen! Queen!” I could be like, “I just sh*tted on myself” and they gon be like, “Queen of Sh*tting!” Like what?! If I’m not mistaken, that was one of the last songs put on the album because I just went in the studio and was just like – I usually write before I get in the studio and come to the studio prepared but this one, I just got in the studio and I saw someone tweeting me like queen something and I was like, you know what, we finna just smack this out. And I just went in the studio like, “Slay me queen, slay me queen!” And I was just like off my head. That was the first time that I went in the studio and just said sh*t off my head.

FR: It was sort of like just free styling?
EH: Yeah, it was just free styling and just fun.

FR: And you’re also very much an underground artist, do you want to change that? Do you want to enter the radio waves and have a big budget and work with big name producers or you know, like go on tour or something?
EH: I feel like, one thing I always tell people is, the music – I don’t taste the fame. [People] probably think that because of the freaky videos, “Oh! She’s just trying to get some fame! She’s just trying to get that.” That’s not it, like literally. Like we’re at five million views right now – that ain’t sh*t. We ain’t chasing the fame, we ain’t chasing the money, we chasing the dream. The dream is for me to write, as long as I can get my point across in a song, I don’t give a f*ck about how the music goes. As long as I get my point across and the people hear me. If a tour comes through, then I’ll do a tour but other than that – like collaborating with big artists, if that comes my way then sure but I’m not chasing like, “Oh I want to do a song with that person!” That’s just not me. I’m not out to do that. If I stay underground, then so be it. But right now we got fans in the UK, London – so it’s getting big. And I appreciate all the love but at the same time we just doing this music. I’ll never do out chasing the fame, the fame gon come regardless. If your album is project is good, if your music is good, it’s gon come regardless.

FR: Being the rapper that you are right now – did you always dream of that? You know, like when you were younger. Did you always want to be a rapper? Or did it just kind of land on your lap?
EH: I wanted to do poetry, and then someone in the church had told me, “You know poetry is rap, you might as well just switch that over.” And I went home and I switched it over and I knew that I wanted to write. That was my main thing I just wanted to write. I did a book back in the day  when I was 10-years-old called ‘Tyrese and Elizabeth Get Married’ so that was my book and then I was doing poetry and then it just happened to be rap. As long as I’m writer, I’m happy and I’m in a happy space. It don’t have to be, “Oh, she’s a rapper!” No, you can just say I’m a writer, sh*t, because I can write you a whole book, sh*t. It’s more creativity; like I can write for other people I can ghostwrite. But people want me to be that rapper because people love me at the moment. So I’m a rapper and an artist for now. But you never know, I might go write a movie next. I dream big.

FR: I would definitely watch that. Who are your favorite artists; did they influence your style of music?
EH: I don’t really listen to the radio; I don’t really listen to people. But – and don’t nobody influence my music, that’s all from me. You can’t really compare me to nobody because I’m a whole unique person; I’m a whole different person. When people hear my music, it kind of feels like I came from outer space or something, they be like, “I’ve never seen now sh*t like this done before.” And that’s because no one influences me. But right now, someone who is on my playlist is Rihanna she is the rapper. Ok, Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, 50 Cent; I can say a little Lauryn Hill and that new guy Bryson Tiller. I like him. But that’s it, I listen to a little of Jay-Z and Kanye but right now on my playlist is Rihanna and Chance the Rapper, Rihanna and Chance the Rapper.

FR: My brother loves his mix tape. What is it called?
EH: Coloring Book.

FR: Yeah there you go, he’s always playing it when I’m with him.
EH: If there is anybody I want to collab with right now is Rihanna and Chance the Rapper. That’s it.

FR: Out of your entire discography, what are your favorite songs? Tell me your favorite based on lyrics and our favorite song based on production.
EH: Lyrics, I would have to say Image. Creativity would be Vagina because it was just a fun experience doing all the moans and stuff in the studio, which was very fun. But lyric wise would be Image. I think it was cool how I put Image together.

FR: And what’s your favorite song on Audacious?
EH: I’m going to be real; I like “Spider-Man D*ck.” I love that song.

FR: That one is really good. Where do you see your life heading, like do you have any future projects, you know, like what’s next? Do you have anything planned? What are you thinking?
EH: Right now, I’m just focusing on Audacious. I’m going to do a couple videos, book a couple shows. I’m just trying to, you know, like I said, I just like to write and as long as I get my point across – that’s good. Audacious is out now and shows, at the moment, videos. I’m going to shoot a couple videos for Audacious and hopefully get a tour I wouldn’t mind it. I’ve never done one, so that’d be great. You know, if the right people come across, then come on get me on that tour but other than that, I’m lovin it.

FR: Thank you for talking to me.
EH: No problem, like I said. It’s an honor to be on the phone with you.

Photography by Matthew Avignone 

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