Mulatto, Rubi Rose, and Sukihana: Meet the Women of “WAP”
A tiger, a Jenner, and a Stallion? The music world never stood a chance. When it dropped last summer, the music video for Cardi B’s culture-devouring hit “WAP” was so jam-packed with scene-stealing cameos and over-the-top visuals that it broke YouTube streaming records. But for all of its star power, “WAP” also introduced audiences to three of hip-hop’s rising stars. Say hello to the new King Cobras of rap.
Mulatto, now 21, began rapping at the age of 10. By 16, she had won the top prize on Jermaine Dupri’s competition show The Rap Game. “It had its pros and cons,” says the Ohio native. “Being that young and doing television, I was easily manipulated. I’d say whatever they wanted me to say. But at the same time, it gave me the exposure that I needed.” This year, Mulatto, whose name is Alyssa Michelle Stephens, released her debut album Queen of Da Souf. Soon after, she was nominated for Best New Hip Hop Artist at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards and landed a coveted spot on the cover of XXL’s annual Freshman Class issue.
“When I got that call, I swore my manager was pranking me,” Mulatto says of being approached to appear in the “WAP” video. “My mind could not register the fact that Cardi B even knew who I was, let alone wanted me to be in her video. I will always love her for that, because she knew what putting us in that video would do for our careers. It’s a beautiful time right now for female rap. We’re creating a whole new agenda. We’re supporting each other and collabing. The industry, fan bases, and blogs want us to beef, but we’re making it a friendly sport.”
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE: Where does your drive come from?
MULATTO: My parents. They moved [to Atlanta] straight out of high school with no family here and just built it from the ground up. My momma had me at 15 years old. I come from a hustler mentality. Both my parents really got it out of the mud. In our household, it was never a plan B, plan C, anything like that. It was plan A and we stick to it. You put in that work, and you pray hard to make sure that plan happens. I credit my parents for my ambition.
UKIOMOGE: What was your reaction when you got the offer to be in the WAP video?
MULATTO: I was like, “Cardi B don’t even know who I am.” My mind could not register the fact that she even knew who I was, let alone wanted me to be in her music video. Then I found out that Suki and Rubi were going to be in it. Then I found out that it wasn’t just Cardi’s song, it was also Megan’s song. I was super stoked to be a part of it from the jump. I was like, “Wow, this is going to be so big.” I will always love Cardi because she knew what putting us in that video would do for our careers. It’s just really selfless, so I will always respect her for that.
UKIOMOGBE: Women in rap are really dominating right now. And of course, you’re a part of that. How does it feel to be included in this moment?
MULATTO: It’s crazy. I’ve been rapping since I was 10 years old. I always say I wouldn’t have chosen any other time to be taking off or for my career to be going up. It’s a beautiful thing right now for female rap, it’s like we’re just creating a whole new agenda. We’re supporting each other and collabing. The industry, the fan bases, and the blogs would like for us to beef. In the past, female rappers were always put against each other and supposed to be seen as competition, but we’re making it a friendly sport. I love it.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you envision yourself rapping for the rest of your life?
MULATTO: I’m going to forever have a love for music. I just don’t think I’m going to rap forever. I see myself getting into brand partnerships, acting, modeling, and just branching off. I feel like music is my way in the door. And then from there, it’s up. I’m going to have so many different things going on. I definitely idolize Rihanna’s career path.
When asked to describe herself in one word, Sukihana answered immediately: “She-wolf.” The 29-year-old, Atlanta-based rapper spent her formative years at a creative arts school, where she cultivated her stage presence. “I’m used to being on camera because that’s what I do,” she says. Born Destiny Henderson, Sukihana began releasing music two years ago on YouTube and Sound- Cloud, before making it official with her debut mixtape, Wolf Pussy, released earlier this year. She currently stars alongside Trina on the docu-soap Love & Hip Hop: Miami.
“I was in the hair salon when they called me,” says Sukihana about being asked to appear in the “WAP” video. “It was like, ‘Hey, you want to be in Cardi’s video? Cardi says she loves you, girl. I was like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ Me and my girls were all screaming. She didn’t have to share her platform with me. I really appreciate her for that.” When asked about whether her three children have listened to the song, she says, “I don’t let them listen to my music at all. But I’m not making music for my kids. I’m making music to take care of my kids.”
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE: How’d you get the name Sukihana?
SUKIHANA: Sukihana is a little Japanese restaurant, it’s like cousin’s with Benihana. A guy named me that because he said I taste like Sukihana. I just kept the name. If I could, I would change it to Kill Bill. I might as well do it.
UKIOMOGBE: How long have you had an OnlyFans account and why’d you start it?
SUKIHANA: I’ve only had it for a few months and made it during the pandemic. I just wanted to try it out to see what would happen, and it made me rich. I really normalized it, not for the people that actually work it, but for the music industry. Scared money don’t make no money. I never had a problem with putting a roof over my children’s heads. If I got to do what I got to do, then I’m going to do it.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you remember where you were when you got the call to be in the “WAP” video?
SUKIHANA: I was in the hair salon and they called me. It was like, “Hey, you want to be in Cardi’s video? Cardi says she loves you, girl.” I was like, “What? Are you fucking kidding me?” Me and my girls were all screaming. It was a really good day for me. It was like thought, “How did I just get called with this good news out of nowhere? What did I do to deserve that?” I didn’t understand, but I was really happy. It was definitely because I paid my dues. I’ve been working hard. Next thing I know, I was getting flown out to Cali and we did this video. It was everything.
UKIOMOGBE: How has your life changed since the video dropped?
SUKIHANA: Ever since Cardi put me on that platform, it has opened doors for me. A lot of people want to work with me. I’m getting put in different magazines now. It’s been a big help and I’m really excited because a lot of people are looking at me. I’m really happy that she did that, because she didn’t have to share her platform with me. I really appreciate her for that.
UKIOMOGBE: Looking back on your career thus far, what are you most proud of?
SUKIHANA: I’m most proud of beating the odds, honestly, because a lot of people told me I wouldn’t be able to do this. They told me I wouldn’t be able to do it with kids. A lot of people were hating on me and I’m just so happy I made it out of the life that I used to live. I’m glad that I made it away from those bad guys that I used to date. I’m happy I made it from being in bad relationships. I’m just happy I beat the odds. I have everything that they said I couldn’t have. I have my children, I have real love, I have success, I have a ring. I didn’t change my features, because some people say my nose or face isn’t suitable for television because it’s not the Hollywood look. But me making it to where I am, it makes me feel good because I stayed true to myself. That’s something I’m really proud of.
The rapper Rubi Rose grew up under the watchful eye of her Mormon parents in Lexington, Kentucky. “Were they strict?” says the 23-year-old. “Hell fuck- ing yes. I wasn’t allowed to show anything above my knees, I went to church every Sunday, and I had bible study every week.” But after moving to Atlanta in her junior year of high school, Rose gained a foot- hold in the world of hip-hop, first with an appearance in Migos’s “Bad and Boujee” video, and then as an artist in her own right. After scoring hits with the singles “Big Mouth” and “He in His Feelings,” she’ll release her debut album, Poison, later this year.
“Offset DM’d me on Instagram to do a video, but didn’t say what it was for,” says Rose about first being approached for the “WAP” video.“I was like, ‘I’ll do the video if I can get a feature off you,’ and then he never responded. But then a PR lady hit me up and it went from there. When we actually got to set, there was a big-ass greenscreen and a guy on a mic just hyping me up. We decided to dance and shake ass and be crazy. After that video, I gained, like, 200,000 followers on Instagram. My streams went up. I was planning to go to law school, but with all this shit going on right now, hopefully [it’ll be] one day in the future. Maybe I can put my degree to use and be in politics or some crazy shit.”
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE: Why did you decide to become a rapper?
RUBI ROSE: It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but was kind of scared. At first, I started DJ’ing and then I realized that wasn’t for me. Then, I just started getting on beats and just playing around. I started to really take it seriously, so my ex gave me a song and it started from there.
UKIOMOGBE: How do your parents feel about your success?
ROSE: My mom is very proud. I don’t speak to my dad. I grew up Mormon, but after my parents divorced, we stopped going to church. Were they strict? Hell fucking yes, hell yes. Growing up Mormon was very different from the way I live my life now. I wasn’t allowed to show anything above my knees. I went to church every Sunday. Bible study every week. I was very reserved.
UKIOMOGBE: When did you know that you “made it?” Was it one moment or a culmination of things?
ROSE: I knew when L.A. Reid told me that I was going to be a star. I mean, there were other things that made me feel good about myself, but I really respected him and he believed in me. I knew my future was going to be bright. I met him at the label in Beverly Hills. I was so nervous. They had me perform my song like eight times in the room, because that was the only song I had. He has helped me change my life in a lot of ways, so I’m thankful.
UKIOMOGBE: How did you become involved in the “WAP” video?
ROSE: Offset DM’ed me on Instagram. He asked me to do a video but didn’t say what it was for. I was like, “I’ll do the video if I can get a feature off you,” and then he never responded. But then a PR lady hit me up and then it went from there. When we actually got to set, there was a big ass green screen and a guy on a mic just hyping you up. We decided to dance and shake ass and be crazy. After that video, I gained like 200,000 followers. My streams went up. The Cardi co-sign changed my life.
UKIOMOGBE: Regarding your OnlyFans, you made $100k in 1-2 days by posting photos from your Instagram account?
ROSE: Most of them were from Instagram, but some weren’t. I had my longer twerk videos and unreleased music. It was some exclusive content, but not nude content. For the most part, OnlyFans has definitely impacted me for the better. When I made $100K, I had hella artists reach out to collab. The negative impact was that some brands didn’t want to fuck with me because they looked at me like the “OnlyFans” girl but the fact is, I’m strategic about my shit. I’m an artist that knows how to monetize off of these platforms. I never showed my pussy but I did capitalize off that shit. I know what the fuck I’m doing.
UKIOMOGBE: Looking back on your career thus far, what are you most proud of?
ROSE: I’m most proud of the artist I’ve become. I’m creating a lane for bad bitches to do whatever the fuck they put their mind to. I want people to know that I’m more than just a pretty girl that makes music. I got my degree, I’m in the studio working on my art every day, and there’s a lot more to come.
Styling: Jyotisha Bridges
Hair: Sean Christopher Fears
Makeup: Gina Espinoza
On-Set Creative Direction: Dominic West