Despite being delayed by more than an hour, cupcakKe put on a phenomenally explicit, energetic and exciting show to an adoring full-house crowd at NextNOW Fest.
The line to get into The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center's Kay Theatre wrapped into the depths of the building by 9:30 p.m., an hour before cupcakKe's designated set time, and a handful of hopeful fans ended up being turned away as the theater reached capacity.
At about 10:40 p.m., a Clarice employee came on stage with cupcakKe on FaceTime to announce that the rapper was stuck at the airport and would be there in 40 minutes. Fans stuck around and kept the party going until she finally graced the stage at 11:55 p.m.
A playlist of popular music played over speakers while people danced and tossed around balloons made from free condoms passed out before the show. Three student comedians even put on a performance to hold over the crowd over until their queen arrived.
cupcakKe wasted no time when she hit the stage. She announced, "The rain thought it was wet, but my pussy was wetter" and jumped into her song "Vagina." The crowd enthusiastically rapped along with the NSFW performer as she romped across the stage.
She flashed her boobs and played with her nipples on stage on multiple occasions, earning gasps from the crowd each time. She reached peak vulgarity when she rubbed her hands on her nether regions and then stuck her finger in her mouth. She requested a towel from the stage hands by saying, "I'm trying to wipe my pussy off please," and then gave the towel to a happy fan (perhaps too happy) in the first few rows.
While the sexuality of it all was fun and empowering, ultimately it was a veil in front of cupcakKe's impeccable rapping skills. Her flows are unique, in that each song sounds different — she dominates any tempo or bassline with witty lines and creative rhythm.
On the surface, her lyrics are nasty in the best ways, but they often carry messages of solidarity with the LGBT community and power in sexuality, which is part of why she was booked for NextNOW, said Megan Pagado Wells, associate director of the Artist Partner Program at The Clarice.
"What's exciting about cupcakKe is she has [name recognition] but she's also an artist who really has something to say, which is part of what we also try to accomplish with NextNOW Fest," Pagado Wells said. "So her music has addressed issues including child abuse and homelessness and racial justice and she's an ally of the LGBTQ community, in addition to being a strong female voice who's owning her sexuality."
The performance ended at about 12:25 a.m., clocking in at 30 minutes. cupcakKe ignored requests to end the set from people backstage so she could perform one last song, "Deepthroat." She squeezed her boobs into a selfie with somebody on the front row, and in a parting message emblematic of her general "hoe, but make it responsible" mantra, she uttered "Be safe" into the mic on her way off the stage.