The sample behind Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's 'WAP' is a Baltimore club classic

Sameer Rao
The Baltimore Sun
Cardi B performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on October 6, 2019 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

BALTIMORE — Baltimore club music is known for its fast pace, frenetic legs-heavy dancing and hard-knocking beats.

So it may seem strange that a sample from a Baltimore club classic — specifically the 1993 hit "Whores in this House" by radio personality and one-time Baltimore resident Frank Ski — would figure so prominently in a slow-paced, trap-heavy song like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's recent hit, "WAP."

Yet to Ski, it makes sense that the raunchy "WAP," whose official music video racked up over 102 million views since debuting on YouTube on Aug. 6, would rely on a Baltimore club sample.

"Now, hip-hop is very popular, and ('WAP') is what they call 'trap' style, so it's very slowed down, the tempo is very slow," Ski said Wednesday. "But actually, the tempo is just half. It's not slow, really, if you understand production, it's just cut in half of what a club dance tempo would be."

Ski, whose real name is Frank Rodriguez, said that he is heartened by the attention brought to his song by its use in "WAP." He called "WAP," which is the first single off Cardi B's upcoming second album, an "incredible production," praised the artistry of its Colin Tilley-directed music video, and said it could bring about more interest in Baltimore's history of dance music.

(Warning: the two videos contain explicit language)

"As soon as that song came out, it has brought on a resurgence of dance music," Ski said. "So I expect, honestly, truly, that within the next few months, you're going to see a resurgence of a lot of music that has come out of Baltimore."

The voice on the hook is not Ski's, but his collaborator, Al "T" McLaran. Ski said that McLaran came up with the military cadence of the refrain because of McLaran's own military training. He also noted that the original song came out of his own Super Sundays club nights, which took place at various clubs across the city. He called the reception to the song on the dance floor "crazy."

"It was a big song," he said. "The thing that kept it from getting even bigger back then was the (explicit) lyrics ... which, in those times, in '93, it was difficult to get by with anything. Not like it is today ... radio has changed a lot."

Ski said that he heard that the sample would be used before the coronavirus pandemic hit. He had spoken to someone with Quality Control Music, which used to manage Cardi B, and learned that she would be sampling "Whores in this House" for a then-forthcoming track.

"WAP" has incurred backlash from some commentators, including conservative media personality Ben Shapiro, for its explicit lyrics about sex. In his praise for the song, Ski said that male artists using similar language would likely face less criticism.

Ski used to anchor the morning show at the now-defunct V103 before working at 92Q, both in Baltimore. He moved to Atlanta in 1998, and still works in radio there (although he now does the afternoon show for Washington D.C.'s WHUR).

He believes Baltimore music will soon get its overdue credit nationally.

"Baltimore club music has been an historic genre that has been emulated and interpolated and copied for such a long time," he said. "Much of what you hear in (electronic dance music) and what not is really a lot of Baltimore drums and things that a lot of DJs, some who aren't even alive anymore, did a lot of blood, sweat and tears in our small city of Baltimore. And I think Baltimore deserves a lot of credit for their intuitiveness in creating this genre. Hopefully, this song will re-emerge that genre again, and maybe a lot of other DJs in Baltimore will begin to get some of the credit that they so well deserve."