Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s highly-anticipated collaborative single “WAP” arrived with an eye-popping video which hit some 26 million views in less than 24 hours, and continues to climb (currently at 83 million views). And while much of the talk surrounding it has been about the song’s provocative themes, female empowerment underscores the visual, as Patientce Foster, who served as co-creative director (along with Kollin Carter) explains.
The Delaware native was Cardi’s independent publicist for five years, which quickly segued into many other positions. The two parted ways amicably for a few months, but in March, a casual conversation about Cardi’s evolution led the rapper to ask Foster to return and focus more on brand management and creative. Soon after, “WAP” would be their main focus.
The crew faced its share of roadblocks during the COVID-19 pandemic and the entire shoot took place over the course of two days. Among those making cameos are Normani, Rosalía, Mulatto, Sukihana, Rubi Rose and Kylie Jenner. Variety caught up with Patientce, who walked us through the making of the “WAP” video.
How did you and Cardi first meet?
Patientce Foster: In my salon. My now business partner brought her to Delaware for an appearance at a strip club, he sent her to me to get her hair and makeup done. We met again at a Gypsy Sport fashion show a month later. I was interning for a PR company because I’ve always wanted to be a publicist, but I never had the opportunity — I was 26 and had a two-year-old son — and ran into her backstage. She asked, “Are you here doing hair?” I said, “No, I’m actually a publicist.” She said “Oh, I need one of those!” They invited me to a dinner that night, in September 2015. … She asked me, “I want to do a makeup line, but this one lady who’s going to be my publicist told me I couldn’t use the names I wanted.” I asked for the names. She said “I want to name one color P–y Poppin’ Pink. Would you tell me to change it or do you like the name?” I said, “I think the name aligns with who you are, we should call it P–y Poppin’ Pink.” That was it, I was hired.
“WAP” got 26 million views in less than 24 hours; Were you expecting such numbers?
We made something timeless. Our creativity and vision was well-executed. It feels good because I was there from the beginning. I was able to experience the success of “Bodak Yellow.” That question people ask: do you guys think you can do it again? After I saw the numbers of “WAP,” I thought, “Hell yeah we can do it again!” I felt so assured because the way Cardi’s drive is, how she skyrocketed. People think it’s luck, but it’s strategy. Being original, individual, transparent, and authentic, having a solid and consistent team behind you, that drives her success.
What was your role as co-creative director for this visual?
She came to me and her wardrobe stylist [and co-creative director] Kollin Carter and said: “These are the things I want to do. I want a lot of color, I want animals.” She shot out all these super random ideas. My role was taking her super random vision and finding the individuals to execute it, delegating different positions and creating the overall creative.
Between me and her and Kollin, we came up with the list of females to put in the video. After we were done, she said, “Alright, you gotta go get them.” I reached out to all of them, including Kylie. Me and Kris [Jenner] already had a pre-existing relationship so I shot her a text. The process of securing individuals for a song they weren’t allowed to hear — I couldn’t tell them the details — I had to work really hard to secure these females.
How did Cardi decide on the cameos?
Cardi, Kollin and I all felt it’s very important to have a Black woman in the video. When it comes to the industry, you see a lot of light-skinned women, white women, Latino women, those women always seem to get chosen over darker-skinned women. Normani’s a powerhouse, she doesn’t get all the credit she deserves for who she is. She’s a crazy dancer. If we can get a powerful Black queen to give a phenomenal dance moment, it has to be Normani.
Rosalia came up in conversation as someone to represent the Latin females. Colin reached out via DM to Rosalia and she responded within five minutes. She was, like, “I love Cardi. Whatever it is, I’m down.”
Mulatto’s one of the emerging rappers well on her way. It’s really important for Cardi to share her platform. That’s the first thing she said: “I want up-and-coming female rappers.” She felt Mulatto’s been making waves and if anyone deserved this moment, it’d be Mulatto.
Sukihana’s actually from Delaware too. When the conversation came up about emerging female rappers, I couldn’t not bring her up. It ended up being perfect because Cardi already followed her and she really liked her.
Rubi Rose was actually one of the first females that Cardi mentioned. She really loves her attitude and her voice. She’s definitely next up.
Kylie, we really wanted a woman who’s super respected and super influential. Someone who’d leveled up in an iconic way — she’s a billionaire — because we wanted women in different phases of their success. Some are at the peak of their success, some are emerging, some are in the middle. What woman is at the height of her game and killing it? How do you have that conversation without talking about Kylie Jenner? We talked, went over in our heads all the different scenarios and narratives the public would come up with and what they’d say. We were, like, “F– it, we’re not making a video for the public’s popular opinion.” We want a video that speaks to the narrative Cardi wanted: a house full of powerful women. Whether you like it or not, you cannot exclude her from females who are dominating.
How do you feel about fans petitioning to remove Kylie Jenner?
It’s bullshit to be honest. There’s so many real issues going on. To make a petition about taking a woman out of a conversation that’s about including women, is counterproductive. It’s contradictory to the climate in which everyone says they’re fighting for. Everyone wants progress, equality, their rights for women, their rights for Black people. If we’re still having these conversations because of people’s own personal bias where we should exclude people, it doesn’t work that way. I’m not going to let … Cardi’s not going to let the insecurity of individuals we’ve never met before perpetuate their own insecurities on us. We don’t have anything to do with why you don’t like this female, so the petition is a joke to me. I laughed, as if we’d actually remove anyone from the video. Everyone was thought of carefully. It wasn’t a last-minute decision, the purpose was creating a bigger conversation about women in power and influence. It shouldn’t matter if the woman’s white or Black. If a woman’s making strides, she strides for the next woman. Period.
What were the challenges of shooting “WAP?”
Shooting a video of that magnitude in the middle of a pandemic was a challenge. We only had two days, budget was at its max. Once the label couldn’t pay anymore, Cardi’s paying for things out of her pocket to get what she wanted. … Cardi’s very intuitive to what’s going on around her and what’s being said. She felt she was being counted out, that people had so easily forgotten the work she’d done and achieved. She had this moment where she’s not to be rushed when it comes to creating, she wants to make good music on her own time. But she felt she had music to put out now. We keep calling it a second season, a new era. Beyonce has literally dominated the entire narrative of evolution, that’s what Cardi wants to be known for: to be bold and to elevate. The motivation was, “OK, you want to put out music and resurface, but you can’t just resurface like this is 2015 or 2016. You have to do it the way the greats do it, because you’re great. You have to reemerge the way Adele would, or Beyonce. You’re stepping back out, but how are you stepping back out?”
Were social distancing protocols followed? How?
They were definitely enforced, we followed them the best we could. One thing for certain was there’s a specific budget allocated for COVID. Anybody on set had two wristbands — meaning you were tested before you got on set. Everyone was tested, we got our results in 15 minutes. If you’re positive, you couldn’t be there. Everyone down to craft services and security everyone had to wear a mask on set. There was a compliance officer, we created a super safe environment which helped everybody work comfortably.
You worked with director Colin Tilley and Kollin Carter. What role did each person serve?
Kollin Carter was also creative director. Kollin’s her wardrobe stylist, an overall fashion visionary. He has the eye for colors and prints, that super essential design element. Colin Tilley had the resources and the eye, so we’re able to build out every set. There’s very little green screen use. The purple and green, the pool, the leopard room, the tiger room, the snake room, the hallway, those were actually built-out sets.
What was your favorite scene or shot of the movie?
The leopard room. Once that door opened, it was another level. It climaxed at that point. Her hair‘s super sick, the chainlink ponytail, her outfit, it’s like, “They’re not done yet, there’s more.”
You mention Cardi brings out the best in people, how has she helped elevate you?
As a publicist, it’s very black and white. You have one job to do, but she never kept me out of other conversations or away from the table when it comes to opportunities. She’s always allowing me to level up in my position. If you’re good and prove what you’re capable of, she’ll allow you to inherit the responsibility and do whatever you have your mind set on. Getting the creative direction credit was such a big deal to me because so many people think they’re boxed in by their profession. Working with Cardi, she doesn’t care if you’re an assistant. If you do well, prove to grow and you can elevate with her, she’ll allow you to elevate right on out of that box. Overall she’s allowed me to elevate as a woman of color, to build my resume, to be a part of so many conversations that’s made me super well-rounded and well-experienced. I definitely owe that elevation to her.
How have you seen her change over the last five years?
I’ve seen her mature and become more decisive in what she wants. She used to take a very laidback approach, she trusted everybody. She trusts everybody to do their job, but she’s become a lot more present in her business. She’s more assertive. She knows exactly what she wants and where she wants to be in the next 10 years.
This video isn’t only NSFW, it’s borderline NSFWFH. What does it say about music and female rappers today embracing and being open about their sexuality?
Women are tired of feeling censored for this “woman.” Female rappers today are reshaping the definition of feminism and what a woman is. A woman can be outspoken and unapologetic. A woman can be in tune with her body and speak about it without being talked down on and called names. Female rappers today are owning who they are and their bodies, making their own decisions whether a man likes it or not.
You say this video is just the beginning, what can we expect next?
A full circle evolution. Not just in imagery, visuals, or music, you’re going to see her grow into a mogul. You’re going to see her grow into a political influence, a multi-faceted woman and mother. She’s not your phase one, circus female. There’s so much more to her. We’re working to make sure we develop in a way that she can share this growth with the world.