We didn’t rank Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” number one on our top singles of 2017 for no reason. When “Bodak Yellow” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Cardi B made history. “Bodak” became the longest running #1 for a female rapper. She was also the first solo female rapper to reach the chart’s summit since Lauryn Hill in 1998. Guest spots on G-Eazy’s “No Limit” and Migos’ “MotorSport” proved her record streak at #1 was just the start. She further became the first female rapper to land 3 tracks in the Hot 100’s top 10. Cardi’s rise to fame culminates with the release of her stellar debut album Invasion of Privacy.
Cardi announced the album’s release less than two weeks before the release. It’s a non-traditional album release strategy, to say the least. It begged the question, why? Was the album rushed? Was it to beat the pregnancy rumors before the reveal? Whatever the reason, Invasion of Privacy indicates that Cardi possesses the potential for longevity in music.
Clocking in at just 13 tracks, Invasion of Privacy proves to be an optimal length for Cardi B’s debut album. The album allows Cardi to flex her ability to craft clever lyrics and captivate using powerful flows and deliveries. There are no fillers. Cardi covers all her bases and proves that she has no intention of being a flash in the pan.
“They gave a bitch two options: Strippin’ or lose”
There’s magic in a strong opening track on a hip hop album. It’s even something of a tradition. They set the tone for each album as a body of work. Cardi continues the tradition and comes out of the gate swinging on her opener “Get Up 10”. From the instant the track starts she professes that her options were “strippin or lose”, and she was not about to do the latter. “Get money, go hard” is her motto, and she lays all of her struggles and obstacles as she raps non-stop for 3 minutes with no hook (which she already excelled at on “Red Barz“). There’s only a quasi-hook that appears in the last minute. She’s succeeded in turning her struggle into a rap about rags to riches.
On “Drip”, Cardi reunites with fiancé Offset and Migos after victories on “Lick” and “MotorSport”. However, she demonstrates that Migos are there solely to back her up. Cardi opens the song and leads the charge. She delivers the strongest and hardest verse of the pack, boasting, “won MVP and I’m still the rookie” and “run through your hood like bitch I’m the mayor”. Cardi’s one verse indicates that she could have bodied 3 verses of “Drip” on her own. Next time, relegate the Migos to a remix.
Pulling A Lil’ Kim
Cardi’s skills impress on every track on Invasion of Privacy. On “Bickenhead” she boasts her ability to pull a Lil’ Kim and turn misogyny into female empowerment. She transforms Project Pat’s ode to mindless women, “Chickenhead”, into a no-fucks-given get-money female anthem. It’s significant that she updated the original, but the effortless makeover of misogyny into female empowerment is magnanimous. Plus, she delivers “guap guap, get some chicken, guap guap, get some bread” with such authority that it’s an instant earworm.
While she flexes and boasts throughout much of Invasion of Privacy, Cardi doesn’t shy away from being vulnerable. On the magnificent “Thru Your Phone”, Cardi unleashes a seething attack on a cheating man. She goes through his phone and finds naked photos of another chick. Cardi threatens to throw his side chick’s “boobs on the gram”, and that he’s going to turn her into Left Eye. She’s mad but heartbroken, evidenced by referencing “Beyoncé on my stereo, ‘Resentment’ on repeat.” Her pain is real, flow is impeccable, and lyrics are razor sharp. As if that wasn’t enough she’s the one singing the soft, high alto hook. It’s a mind-boggling juxtaposition next to her deep-voiced, gruff verses.
“Thru Your Phone” is significantly stronger than precursor “Be Careful”. Both have strong beats, and strong lyrics, but their difference lies in the delivery. Cardi’s delivery on “Be Careful” sounds like she’s looking for places to catch a breath. With another take or two or multiple takes spliced together, it could have been stellar. This is further evidenced by her powerful vocal delivery of “Be Careful” during Saturday Night Live.
B is for Best Life
Perhaps the album’s most surprising feature comes from Chance the Rapper, on the impeccable “Best Life.” The two hip-hop newcomers unite to celebrate how much they’re loving living their best lives (and stan for Beyoncé, who is mentioned by both). Cardi further celebrates herself on self-appreciating bops “She Bad,” “Money Bag“ and second single “Bartier Cardi,” energized and ready for the club or the cookout. Meanwhile, Cardi continues to unite with her equally up-and-coming peers, joining forces with Kehlani on the laid back “Ring,” which is another highlight.
Claiming Her Crown
There is something special about Cardi B that we’ve not yet seen in female rap: she is a Latina. Cardi is a Dominican hailing from the Bronx, NYC, and the Latin music community has swiftly embraced her. Case in point: “I Like It.” The song features Latin superstars Bad Bunny and J Balvin, and a masterfully utilized sample of the classic “I Like It Like That.” The song is infectious and the perfect combination of Hip-Hop, Latin music and crossover potential. Apparently, she’s already shot a video. The song is bound to be a hit in Latin America, but it definitely has the potential to takeover US airwaves ala “Despacito” – no Bieber necessary.
“I Do” featuring SZA closes the album on a stellar note. It’s essentially a victory lap of the last 12 songs. Cardi continues to unapologetically flex. She flexes about sex: “pussy so good I say my own name during sex” She flexes about her success, “for the record, I set record, record sales”, “my little 15 minutes lasted long as hell”. And, one of her best, she flexes about being a lady with “only time I’m a lady’s when I lay these hoes to rest”. It’s the perfect ending to an amazing debut album. All hail Cardi B.