Hip Hop breakout CupcakKe lights up campus


Elizabeth Harris, better known by her stage name CupcakKe, performed at a KOXY concert March 30 in Sycamore Glen. East Coast native rapper Khalif Diouf, known as Le1f, and 2018 Apollo Night winner Chance Ward (senior) opened the event. The Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) provided additional funding.

Entering onto a platform stage amid flashing pink lights and a booming beat, CupcakKe performed “Vagina,” “Deep Throat” and “LGBT,” in addition to her other hits.

After CupcakKe began her set, technical difficulties with the microphone and speakers caused a 20-minute delay in which CupcaKke left the stage. KOXY rushed to fix the issue and CupcakKe was able to start again, according to KOXY Event Director Grace Haggerty (sophomore).

The interruption was not enough to ruin the crowd’s energy, according to Grace Metos (sophomore).

“People were dancing a ton and getting into the music regardless of the technical difficulties,” Metos said.

Elizabeth Taylor (senior) agreed that while the delay was at first surprising, CupcakKe’s return was met with enthusiasm.

“As soon as the speakers stopped working and she left for that brief period, a lot of people decided to leave, and the crowd lost a lot of hype,” Taylor said. “As soon as she came [back] on though, although it was brief, everyone was super stoked and getting down to her performance.”

CupcakKe initially got her start in music by writing poetry and performing in churches around the Chicago area at 14 years old, according to a Rolling Stone article. Her first videos on YouTube received over 10,000 views, with her first hit single “Vagina” going viral in 2015.

“She has had a pretty diehard cult following for the past year, especially among the college student demographic,” Haggerty said.

CupcakKe’s music centers around sex-positivity, LGBTQ issues and social justice issues, according to Haggerty. CupcakKe also met and took pictures with many students after the performance, according to Isabella Auffenorde (sophomore).

“I ran into her as she was leaving. She was very nice and stopped for a picture with us,” Auffernorde said via email.

Viral music videos and a skyrocketing social media presence have both contributed to CupcakKe’s fast rise to fame, according to Haggerty. According to her website, Rolling Stone made her second album, “S.T.D.” one of their top rap albums of the year in 2016; Fader Magazine also named her as one of their top 21 artists to be excited about.

“CupcakKe’s work broadens acceptance of sexuality. She’s a total queen!” Pierce DiMauro (sophomore) said. “I’m framing my selfie with her.”

According to Haggerty, KOXY was thrilled to be able to book such a prominent artist for an on-campus show because it boosted efforts to get students more excited about their events.

According to Dahlia Theriault (sophomore), promotion artist for KOXY, the entire KOXY staff is very close-knit and worked together in order to help make this event happen. Theriault has been listening to CupcakKe since her first year at Occidental and was excited about the performance.

“I feel like more people are talking about CupcakKe than they are talking about Goldlink, it’s super exciting,” Theriault said.

Chance Ward (senior) performs in Sycamore Glen at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Friday, March 30, 2018. Cherry Han/The Occidental

Chance Ward was the first opener of the night.

“Chance had a fantastic set and did a great job involving the crowd and setting the tone for the night,” Haggerty said via email.

According to Haggerty, the KOXY staff was impressed with Ward’s performance at Apollo Night and wanted them to open for CupcakKe.

“I feel really blessed and lucky,” Ward said. “I just started rapping this year, and to be able to share the stage with two talented artists that I look up to was surreal.”

Ward plans on spending time in the recording studio in the last semester of their college career to finish their extended play record, also known as an EP.

Generally, KOXY prefers to choose student openers for larger performances in order to attract more students to the show, according to Haggerty.

“We really like to have student openers because they usually bring their friends, and people love to see their friends perform and have a good time,” Haggerty said.

Le1f performs in Sycamore Glen at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Friday, March 30, 2018. Cherry Han/The Occidental

Le1f was the second opener of the night and was booked by KOXY Event Planner Luis Arias (first year).

The night and the show’s eclectic lineup left Haggerty hopeful for the future of KOXY and the potential events to come.

“[I was] really excited to see what this will do for KOXY,” Haggerty said. “I think a lot of people who [came had] never been to a KOXY show before.”