By Rhiana Chickering
Growing up in Chicago, Elizabeth Harris wrote poetry based on the struggles of living in the city. She was often bullied at high school for not having as many clothes as her peers.
“I started out doing poetry when I was about 13 in churches,” she said. “[When I was] 14, someone told me, ‘Why don’t you switch it to rap?,’ so at that time, I turned to rap and never looked back.”
CupcakKe will perform at Gabe’s, 210 Iowa Ave, at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, along with musical artist Haus of Eden.
Since then, Harris has taken the name “CupcakKe” and begun posting music on her Facebook page, where her first songs received more than 1,000 views, making her life exciting and often overwhelming.
CupcakKe’s “sex-positive music” has caught the attention of hip-hop fans across the nation, even prompting outstanding reviews from magazines, such as Rolling Stone, which declared her second studio album S.T.D one of the best rap albums of 2016, and The Fader, which considered CupcakKe to be one of the 21 rappers to be excited about. Candid lyrics with one-liners elicit shock-humor, but beyond her raunchy verses, CupcakKe values honesty, delving into her thoughts and experiences.
“[My career] has changed a lot,” Harris said. “[I] created [more] albums, a lot of interviewers want to interview me, [I received] a lot more bookings since the album [Ephorize] came out. I am on tour now, and I have 20 dates in a row, so I’m really booked now, [so] I am very grateful.”
Harris recently released her third and most exciting album yet. Ephorize consists of songs rap fanatics will dance and party to.
With its outstanding production and extremely honest lyrics Ephorize marks another great music success for Harris. Even she says Ephorize is more exciting and takes a lighter tone than her previous discography. “[My previous albums] were more stern and serious, [but] this one is more light,” she said.
Even though the tone of Harris’ music slightly changed, her creative process and vulnerability have remained.
“The thought process and feelings I put into [my music] and sharing my life experiences [with people] is what I love about creating music,” she said. “The truth is everything, so I try to put a lot of truth in it, and life experiences is just the best way to get good songs.”
Her thought process illustrates just how much feeling and care she dedicates to her music. Rather than writing a mediocre song in 30 minutes or so, Harris takes her time to create a high-quality catalogue.
“I might write a verse within an hour, then come back and write the hook a couple days later, then come back in another couple days and do the second verse,” Harris said. “I like to take [my] time, and I like to put a lot of thought and effort into my music instead of writing just anything within 30 minutes.”
During the Flyover Festival this weekend in Iowa City, crowds may witness Harris perform some of the songs in her discography. Even better, interacting with the audience and hearing their voices sing portions of her songs are what Harris loves most about performing, giving audiences something to look forward to.
“Every performance is always different in its own way,” Harris said. “I [particularly] like when I make the crowd moan during ‘CPR.’ ”