“Remind ya I’m kinda (wet) / Run it down my vagina (Wet) / Run it down my vagina.” These are the opening lines of “Vagina,” Elizabeth Eden Harris’ breakout 2015 hit that propelled the young artist, better known by her stage name Cupcakke, to stardom. Since then, Harris has become an internet sensation through all three of her personas: Harris, the young woman who grew up homeless in downtown Chicago singing church poetry; Marilyn MonHoe, Harris’ internet, pseudo-troll Twitter personality who boasts that “THE GOAL IS TO SUCK 100K DICKS” on her bio; and Cupcakke, the successful rapper who placed at No. 23 in Rolling Stone’s list of the best rap albums of 2016 and has been recognized by Pitchfork as one of the most promising new performers in the music industry.
The News interviewed Cupcakke on Wednesday night about her career, the controversy she has attracted at Yale for her raucous songs and, of course, how to pronounce her stage name.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
What have you heard from Yale about your upcoming performance?
I just heard people were excited.
What do you make of people at Yale who say your lyrics are too raunchy for performance here?
I don’t know about none of that. If you did see something like that I’m just now hearing it from you first, so I don’t have a response. The response would be, “Oh well, like, who gives a f— what it is.” I don’t have to, I’m not going to explain like, “Oh my gosh, why should she come to Yale ’cause of this.” No. I’m coming to Yale, this is what it is and I’m about to perform and make everyone scream, “Suck d—.”
What was that last part again?
I’m going to perform and make everyone scream, you know, the sexual lyrics. They’re going to scream, they’re going [to] love it, they’re going to love the whole performance.
Where did you grow up?
I lived in downtown Chicago.
How do you feel about performing at Yale? Do you think it will be special?
No, I think of it like another concert, another booking. I’ll come out and perform. Just another performance to me.
Would you like me to quickly show you an op-ed one student wrote criticizing your music for being too vulgar? It could give you an idea of how you’re being received by some at Yale.
What’s the response you want me to say? Even if I read it right now, I mean it’s still the same reaction from me, which is I don’t give a f— and I’m still going to perform at Yale. There’s no other response for me but, OK, I’m looking at this shit, OK, somebody is criticizing me, OK, who gives a f— if someone doesn’t want me at Yale because I have sexual lyrics, then that’s just what it is. They booked me for a reason. I’m sure the people of Yale know exactly what they booked me for and what was the reason for it. It’s another performance, even if the college don’t like it, they’re going to like it when I get there.
Do people in general ever give you trouble for your songs?
I just go out and sing the songs, and most people like it. Even if they don’t like it, then they’re just saying, “Oh, I don’t like it.” It’s fine. Most people like it.
Do you think you are empowering to women?
Of course, definitely.
I’m just a confident person. When women see another confidant female they feel, you know, they love another confident woman. I am a woman, and I know I love another confident woman. When they see confidence, when she’s being herself you know she’s not trying to be this or that, everyone, man or woman, is going to love you because you’re not trying to be nothing else. When they see confidence or me having roles, or anything, and they say, “Oh, she’s still beautiful and confident, she’s still going out there and not letting no one get to her,” everyone connects to that because it’s everything that they want to be. Everyone wants to be confident at this point.
What’s your favorite music video that you’ve done?
One of my best music videos right now I think is “Duck Duck Goose.”
Do you think your music videos encourage sexual objectification?
If someone says basically your music videos, the question is, what you’re saying is basically, the way I carry myself, if someone is offended by it, what do I think of it? I don’t think of it. It is not a thought that comes to my head. I don’t give a f—. Women are going to be women just like men are going to be men, OK, the way men talk about sex is how I’m doing it. I’m a female talking about sex, there’s no difference. Don’t be a double standard. And that’s it.
You have a large following in the LGBTQ community. Why is that?
I don’t know, I just got gay friends and gay fans, gay friends and gay fans. When people see you treating people equally and not bashing people or saying rude things to people then everyone in the world is going to love you, whether you’re gay or not, people will love you.
Was there a specific song that brought you many LGBTQ fans?
I think it was “Vagina,” yeah, “Vagina.”
Could you talk about growing up in Chicago? Were there any hurdles you faced?
No hurdles, just life is life. No hurdles at all, life is life. You know, as a young kid, I was struggling growing up, but I overcame it and here I am today, nothing that’s shocking. Just a typical, you know, I had it hard basically growing up. So I was homeless, I lived in a shelter. I had it hard. But God got me through. God got me here.
Do you consider yourself to be a religious person?
Yeah, I started off rapping in a church. I am a Christian.
Was it always rap that you wanted to do?
I was doing poetry, I was doing Christian poetry in a church around three years and then at 13, 14, one of those ages, and then someone said, “Hey, turn your poetry into rap,” and that’s what I did. And they I say I turned it to rap and it never came back.
You’re very young for a successful artist — when did your career really pick up?
At 17 years old it started. It was 16 or 17. And “Vagina” was the song. I put it out one day and the next day it just blew up basically.
How do you pronounce your name? Does it sound like the word cupcake or is it Cup-cack-ay?
Is Cupcakke supposed to be a reference to bukkake?
No, no I just wanted to add the big K at the end.
Do you have a message for your fans at Yale?
Can’t wait to see y’all!
Britton O’daly | firstname.lastname@example.org