There’s been a lot of foreplay leading up to Brooke Candy’s debut album, but it’s finally come with Sexorcism.
The L.A.-bred, Brooklyn-based ultra-femme rapper, singer, and visual artist has been a staple in the alternative pop music and club scenes for years. Most first came to know Candy when she guest-starred in Grimes’ landmark 2012 music video for “Genesis,” playing a sword-wielding high priestess with hot pink braided hair and two-tone eyes.
An EP and string of singles followed, with highlights like “Opulence,” “Nasty,” and “Living Out Loud,” the lattermost of which featured Candy’s close friend Sia. As the world became a more politically charged place in 2016, so did Candy, resulting in her punk-inflected protest song “My Sex,” featuring MNDR, Mykki Blanco, and Russian feminist protest rock group Pussy Riot. Candy’s work often spans genres, yet for years she felt stymied by record labels, whose traditional leadership sought to compartmentalize Candy into one genre and look.
Today, finally free from a record label, Candy is releasing her first full-length album, Sexorcism. The album feels like a dreamed-up dance party, where “sexually liberated” feels derivative of the hyper-sexualized aesthetic; Candy denies shame, actively fights against guilt, and dares listeners to get on her feminist level. The list of featured talent is as diverse as it is impressive: Charli XCX, Iggy Azalea, Erika Jayne, Violet Chachki, Rico Nasty and more. As an exercise in musical freedom, you would be hard-pressed to find a better example than Sexorcism.
“This album was a long time in the making and is one of the most cathartic things I’ve ever done for myself,” Candy tells Billboard. “The entire gestation period for the album was about nine months, so it’s like I’m giving birth to a baby. A fierce, wild, uninhibited baby.”
Jesse Saint John, the wunderkind producer who worked on multiple Sexorcism tracks and wrote Candy’s first track, “Das Me,” back in 2012, tells Billboard, “I’m just so proud of where Brooke is as an artist right now. Writing for her has been some of the funnest and most exciting creating I’ve ever done. Seeing this full body of work finally come to fruition from someone I love so much is really inspiring.”
Maliibu Miitch, the Bronx native who raps alongside Candy and Charli XCX on “XXXTC,” tells Billboard, “When I first heard it [“XXXTC”], I was super hype. I couldn’t wait to get in the booth, write my verse and lay it down. Brooke is such a talented artist so it was a lot of fun creating magic with her.”
Rico Nasty, the burgeoning hip-hop star, also gives Candy mad props, referring to her as “a legend,” and saying she felt understood by the fellow rapper’s aesthetic. “I feel like our styles match perfectly,” she tells Billboard. “She gave me space on the song to be freaky, and I love the vibe of the record!”
To celebrate the release of Sexorcism, Candy breaks down each of her 12 new tracks and gives us an insider’s look into her creative process, her passion for female liberation, and what it was like working with the album’s roster of profoundly talented feature artists.
“Nymph” is probably my favorite song on the album. I made it in L.A., during a time when I was completely, completely sober. I was just trying to be the best version of myself, while simultaneously still being obsessed with fairies and fairytale creatures and still having promiscuous, crazy sex. So I made the song inspired by a sex-crazed fairy or elf, which is essentially what I am. It sets the tone!
“XXXTC” (feat. Charli XCX & Maliibu Miitch)
Getting Charli and Maliibu to collaborate with me was really special. Maliibu is like the Foxy Brown of our generation. She has such cool inflections in her voice and she’s such a good rapper and she writes everything herself. When I mentioned the track to Charli, I said “the song is called XXXTC and you’re Charli XCX, so you might as well be on it.” And she was like, “Uh, I don’t know about that, but honestly the song is good so I’ll do it.” When I’m performing it without her, people already know her entire verse, so all I have to do is hold the microphone out into the audience and they will all sing it. Her fans love her so much. Once the lyrical content gets to her verse, everyone screams, “Orange Tesla!” I love it.
“R.I.P.” (feat. Ashnikko)
That one is just fun. A lot of the songs on this album are really fun and lighthearted. The lyrics to this one are honestly so silly. Like, “eat my p—y at my funeral.” It’s absurd and surreal, but also fun and funny. And Ashnikko is fantastic.
“C-m” (feat. Iggy Azalea)
I wanted a song about a woman getting hers. So that was a big inspiration. Like, women: get yours, get yours first, and then maybe just leave. And when I was thinking of features for the album, I thought of women who are unapologetic and represent sex, and Iggy is just so sexy and really represents female empowerment. She killed it, and to be honest, I did not expect for Iggy to get that nasty on the track. I was like, “Whoa, girl!”
“Rim” (feat. Violet Chachki & Aquaria)
This track is like a direct ripoff of Madonna’s “Erotica,” but, obviously, this is 10 times sillier. Madonna gives you that sexy whisper, but I give you sexy Minnie Mouse with a d–k in her mouth. I’ve known Violet and Aquaria for a while now. I knew Aquaria before she won Drag Race, and Violet is an icon. They’re both such incredible, incredible performers and queens, super high quality, high glam all the time. So I had to have them both on this with me.
“Swing” (feat. Bree Runway)
I’m Italian, so we thought it would be funny to write a song that compares d–ks to different pastas, and then have a chorus that lets everyone know that I’m like the mafia boss. But the verses are really silly. I’m talking about rigatoni a lot. But then the beat gets really hard, so Bree is perfect for this one ’cause she can spit like no other.
“Encore” (feat. La Goony Chonga)
I swear to God, in L.A., La Goony Chonga is the scene. She’s a badass who raps in Spanish and has incredible style and is so sexy. It’s funny, I roll into the recording studio in biker shorts, a hoodie, dirty hair. But she’s in a full look, beat face, nails done. She’s always in it, she’s so good, and I loved the idea of having another language on my album so that anyone who can speak Spanish can get something special out of it too.
“Freak Like Me” (feat. TOOPOOR)
Jessie Saint John was in the studio with me and at that time I was like, I don’t even know if I should even be in music anymore. But he told me, “You have a voice that reaches a lot of people who need it. You’re someone who will talk about the things no one else will, and you have a voice no one else has.” I was feeling like a freak, so I wanted to make a pop song that speaks to 13-year-old me, empower her. And when I discovered TOOPOOR I was like, “Wow this girl is a f–king freak too! She’d be perfect for the track.”
“Boss Bitch” (feat. Ashnikko)
Ashnikko actually wrote this song originally for herself, but when she played it for me I was immediately like, “Can I please have this one?” It spoke to me because of everything that I stand for, and it was boppy too and fun. But when I sang it by myself, it didn’t feel as powerful. So I told her she had to stay on the track with me. She’s a really cool girl and a great role model for young women. She’s just as much of a boss b–ch as I am, so it only makes sense. Why can’t we all be boss b–ches?
“Drip” (feat. Erika Jayne)
Erika has a power to her. She’s a force that I’ve never felt before. When she walks into a room, she makes you want to sit up and listen to what she has to say. Our astrological charts are also exactly the same. Like, to the tee. She’s so f–king powerful, she gives off a feminine mystique that is truly f–king magical. She’s from the Housewives but she really transcends the Housewives. Like, she was on Larry King Live! This woman gets what she wants, and I knew I had to collaborate with her. She’s fierce as f–k and I love her so much.
So, this one is about my vagina. It’s just fun and silly, but it’s also a nod to sex workers and strippers. They’re all banging, and they’re all hustlers. Like me!
“FMU” (feat. Rico Nasty)
Boys Noize reached out to see if I wanted to collaborate, and I was like, “You’re f–king Boys Noize, yes.” So he sent me this awesome beat. Around that same time, this girl Axle invited me to an all-female biker convention she throws every year in the forest of Bend, Oregon. She told me that “My Sex” had become their anthem, and that I was welcome any time, that I could stay in her cabin and party with them whenever. They all ride up on their motorcycles and dance naked together and take jello shots and get totally wasted… so of course I was like, “I’m in.”
The entire time I was there, I was thinking to myself, “What the f–k kind of song can I make now that these chicks would listen to on their journey? What lyrical content would they vibe with?” So it took on that tone, like when I sing “Motorcycle bitch click / takin’ names and sucking d–k.” Once I finished it, I sent it back to Boys Noize, who thought it needed something extra. And like three seconds later, I get a text from him of him and Rico in the studio recording her verse! I think she breaks up my cadence perfectly and she takes it to a place where it gets really punchy, she’s immensely talented. To me, “FMU” is the most feminist song on the album, the most female-empowered.