REVIEW: Red Bull Music Festival delivers on Valentine’s Day

On Feb. 14, the Red Bull Music Festival featured lively performances from rap and pop artists Junglepussy (above), CupcakKe and Trina. (Bridgette Boggs/Daily Trojan)

On Valentine’s Day, three powerhouse performers took the stage at Majestic Downtown at The Reserve, empowering audiences with female-centric ideas about relationships, self-love and self-improvement. As a part of the Red Bull Music Festival, each performer brought something distinct to the stage, from Junglepussy’s sensual swagger, to CupcakKe’s candid takes on sex, to Trina’s seasoned stage presence.

The first performer of the night, Brooklyn native Junglepussy, stepped onstage sporting bedazzled jeans and a dizzying combination of swagger and vulnerability. Junglepussy’s provocative songwriting jumpstarted her career in 2012, as she often speaks freely about her sexuality and self-worth.

Junglepussy performed numerous songs from her 2015 album “Pregnant with Success.” Through her music, Junglepussy makes it clear that her achievements are inherently female in nature, creating a significant space for women within the male-dominated field of hip-hop.

Before singing “Country Boy” — a song that showcases her Jamaican and Trinidadian roots — she read aloud one of three love letters typed on her phone.

“When you step into an ungrateful motherf-cker’s life, you actually don’t know they are [ungrateful] until they don’t know what to do with your awesomeness,” she said. “They try to hold the very things that attracted them to you against you.”

Upon hearing this, many women from the audience shouted variations of “F-ck him!” in support of her message of empowerment.

Junglepussy’s performance shined from her natural ability to engage with the audience  through her music.

Chicago-based rapper CupcakKe was the youngest performer of the night, and had the advantage of immediate recognition among younger audiences.

CupcakKe started her set with her most popular songs, such as “Deepthroat” and “Duck Duck Goose.”

The rapper also performed her newest hit, “Squidward Nose,” for the first time in front of a live audience and gave a shoutout to her sizeable LGBTQ fanbase with the song “LGBT.”

Before leaving the stage, CupcakKe turned around and candidly admitted she would be having a lot of sex that night — a statement that was met with laughter, shouts of support and cheering.

Unfortunately, CupcaKke’s upbeat energy seemed to fade throughout the concert, and her performance fell flat after Junglepussy’s charged performance.

Before the evening ended, the last — and perhaps most anticipated — artist came onto stage with a flurry of poise, glam and confidence. While the previous two performers rose to popularity relatively recently, Miami-born Trina rose to popularity in the early 2000s after being discovered by local Dirty South rapper Trick Daddy. Her debut album, “Da Baddest Bitch,” cemented her status as an influential new-wave female rapper among the likes Lil’ Kim, Remy Ma and Missy Elliott.

Trina brought a crew of backup dancers as she strutted onto the stage. Despite the clear effort put into Trina’s robust production, the small stage felt cramped with upwards of seven people on it at any given time.   

Trina began her set with “Here We Go,” an emotionally charged number detailing breakups.

After performing “If It Ain’t Me,” she handed out roses to audience members for Valentine’s Day. She then transitioned into her most recent songs, released on mixtapes rather than an album.

While Trina’s performance had more production value than those of her peers, it compromised the intimacy with theatrics, while Junglepussy and CupcakKe spoke directly to their audience. Trina seemed to be going through the scripted motions of her songs for mere performance rather than an attempt to build a genuine, raw connection with a live crowd, and she failed to share any personal anecdotes. Ultimately, Trina’s performance could’ve been more successful, if she had a larger stage to work with.

All three of these performers are aware of the power society strips away from women in terms of relationships, self-esteem and sexual expression. The performers forcibly took their power back this Valentine’s Day with a lively, female-centric music festival.