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Album Review: "Ephorize", Cupcakke

If you’re like me, up until this point you’d never heard much about CupcaKKe that wasn’t in the context of a joke, for her trademark uncomfortably sexual and over-the-top lyrics. She was always kind of shown to you in an ironic way or for shock value. And I can’t pretend I don’t understand why; after listening to a song as in your face as Deepthroat, it’s kind of hard not to feel at least a little violated or not be so excited to listen to a full-length release of hers. But there’s actually a good amount of material here that has legitimate substance and character to it you shouldn’t miss.

Don’t get me wrong; you should still know what you’re getting into with any CupcaKKe project. She’s still very much in her element here, especially on cuts like Duck Duck Goose and Spoiled Milk Titties, delivering graphic bars on gross sexual details you never asked to hear about. But that’s not even close to the entirety of things to cover on the album; writing it off as that would be not only unfair to her, but kind of an insult to our integrity as music nerds. Most people labeling it as a total joke seem to be a result of them not giving it a chance. I mean, you don’t have to love CupcaKKe to acknowledge that she can rap. She’s got a tight flow, really clever bars in a good amount of places, and I’d say she has a lot of potential as a hip hop artist. Still, that doesn’t make Ephorize a perfect project as a whole, or even a great one.

Lyrically, there’s a wide range of topics to work with. Cupcakke can go straight from hilarious and witty to serious to sexual with no problem. Cuts like Self Interview and 2 Minutes successfully take a more introspective approach in their songwriting, in the former of which CupcaKKe totally tears apart her own ego, questioning all of her habits. 2 Minutes gets into the reality of trying to make enough money to support yourself these days, and caught me off guard right off the bat with its solemn tone. Wisdom Teeth and Cartoons show off CupcaKKe’s clever wordplay; Cinnamon Toast Crunch is also a banger pack full of hilarious one-liners and one of the most successful tracks here. Unfortunately, despite having good intentions, Crayons and Exit come across as surface-level and preachy. And Spoiled Milk Titties and Duck Duck Goose kind of speak for themselves, I think. I have no problem with sexual themes in music, but these lyrics are just go a little too far for me to enjoy; I think unfortunately a lot of people can sympathize with this.

From a production standpoint, this album won’t blow you too dramatically in one direction or the other. The best moments aren’t anything to lose your mind over, but neither are the poor ones. At its worst it’s a little overdone and more dramatic than it needs to be, like on Wisdom Teeth. Exit and Total are pretty overproduced as well, with their generic dance/house-inspired beats. A good amount of the rest are trap-inspired and catchy but ultimately mediocre. At its best, there are a few areas with dark, sleek and infectious beats and drumming. Cartoons is one of the album’s highlights, with its glassy, fast synth leads. 2 Minutes has a quiet and serious tone with its pianos and spacey vocal harmonies. Navel takes a different approach with breezy flutes and subtle pianos. The horn leads in Crayons make it stand out slightly as well. Still, I didn’t leave the project with much to remember or take away from it sonically.

For the most part, this was a surprising listen for me. It’s not a flawless project, but I see a lot of potential here. CupcaKKe’s rapping is impressive nearly the whole way through. Several tracks were witty, hilarious, or conceptually on point. It’d be a mistake to categorize her as a novelty rapper; she has a lot going for her and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Definitely curious to see what direction she chooses to go in next.


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