CupcakKe had a tough time titling her second release of 2018.
“I was very conflicted,” the Chicago rapper said on a phone call last week. She took to a group chat for more opinions, originally leaning towards Menu. Since the album is her most personal yet, though, the chat (thankfully) convinced her to go with Eden.
“It’s wordplay on my middle name, because I ate the whole album,” she said, bluntly.
CupcakKe’s fourth LP came out on Friday, and it’s a tight, effortless flex from the young star, delivering some of her strongest bars yet over sturdy dance-pop beats. And, unsurprising to those that have been paying attention to her, it loses none of the blunt ebullience that’s become her signature. Not many artists can pull off comparing their vaginas to beloved cartoon characters (“Garfield,” in this case) right after discussing racism (“Cereal and Water”), but CupcakKe has the range.
“This album was very natural,” she said. Many of the songs had been recorded around the same time that she worked on her critically acclaimed January LP, Ephorize. In the middle of the year, she decided to work on a second project to be released this year. “When I did Ephorize, I didn’t know that later on I’d be releasing another album. It just came.”
While she hasn’t stepped away from the sexual wordplay that her reputation as an artist and social media star (“Made him wait for this Pussy like new Rihanna music,” read one recent caption for a photo of her eating a strawberry while covered in chocolate in sprinkles) is built upon, she’s using Eden as a platform for a more introspective turn. She bites back at naysayers with heavy album opener “PetSmart” and recovers from heartbreak on “Dangled.” On “Don’t Post Me,” she requests that a lover keep it casual by keeping her off their ‘gram.
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While the topics get heavier, the BPM never drops too low. Even Eden‘s closing track, “A.U.T.I.S.M.,” which was written as a way to make her autistic fans feel “welcome and accepted,” could easily turn up a dancefloor.
“With ‘A.U.T.I.S.M.’ I [wanted] something special that can hit home for people who are dealing with autism,” she explains of the song’s purpose. “When I thought of it, I was like ‘This is it.'”
Between her two albums and steady touring, 2018 has been CupcakKe’s busiest year to date, and the success she’s seen as a full independent artist has made her quickly and astutely aware of her self-worth in the industry. To that point, she dropped out of a tour supporting Iggy Azalea when a shady change in her contract could have lost her $300,000.
“I respect Iggy. It wasn’t Iggy’s fault,” she says, explaining that she had originally been offered $330,000 total until the tour was cut down to six dates by LiveNation. After that change was made, she was only offered $5,000 per show. Subsequently, she dropped out.
“It wasn’t like I pulled out because I had something else to do. They dropped 80% of my pay.”
CupcakKe still wants to work with Azalea; she’d been excited to tour with the Australian rapper in the first place. Now, she’ll be setting out on her own headlining tour this December, playing her biggest venues yet as a headliner.
“It’s gonna be outrageous, that’s all I can say,” she teases, with a smirk in her voice.
The 21-year-old promises that even more new music is on the way in the coming months, in the form of collaborations already in the vault that she can’t talk about quite yet. Until it’s out, she’s happy to remain booked and busy.
“It’s about working, connecting with my fans, building that bond and paying the bills,” she says wisely. Getting to meet her fans while on the road has made her “tiring” new lifestyle especially worth it.
“I like talking to them,” she explains. “They let me hear their stories because they always hear mine.”