I like Cardi B a lot. Who doesn’t? It’s almost impossible not to enjoy her brand of in-your-face in-your-faceism. She keeps it real, and that authenticity has endeared her to folks near and far. When “Bodak Yellow” dropped and broke records and wormholed its way into your subconscious—I actually can’t just say “moves” anymore without saying “money” in front of it; all moves are money moves, IDC IDC IDC—most (I’m comfortable saying most) people wondered if she just happened to trip and fall into a hit. Shit happens. One-hit wonders are a thing.
Trinidad James knows what I’m talking about. Whew!
But the truth is, Belcalis is fun, and when she hops on a song, she’s usually the most exciting part of it. I don’t remember anybody else’s verse on “MotorSport,” and Nicki Minaj MERKED that record. And yet, Cardi. Did you know that if you Google “motorsport,” the song comes up before the actual sport? I wonder how NASCAR feels about that. They shouldn’t; Cardi makes money moves.
So of course I’ve been waiting for her debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy, to drop, which it did today. I wasn’t even going to care if it was good or not—it is, though—because I was going to enjoy it anyway. Cardi is great for one-liners and songs that me and you, your mama and your cousin, too, will be singing at the club all summer. In fact, I can’t think of a more perfect time to drop this album than right now as we’re all RARING for some 70-degree days, day parties and being drunk and in bed by 9:30 p.m. with the sounds of “Bickenhead” dancing around our craniums.
My favorite song so far is the Chance the Rapper-assisted “Best Life.” It’s fun, it goes and Chance unloads in his typical upbeat, fun, optimistic sound of blackness. Do you see what I did there? You probably do. That was a money move. But I haven’t skipped any songs either. I let the whole thing play. When she sings, “Little bitch, you can’t fuck with me if you wanted to,” she’s not talking about me. I do fucks with you, Cardi, and I believe you believe in me.
You know, last year when “Bodak Yellow” was traipsing in its red bottoms—the bloody shoes—all over your radio station, I was contacted by an outlet asking me to write a social commentary on what its ascent to the top of the charts means culturally. I had nothing. And I still don’t.
Truly, I think sometimes a song is just better than all other songs out there and it does what happens when songs are better than all other songs. It wasn’t a game changer, displacement due to gentrification wasn’t about to end, and we weren’t about to see the realization of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
What we did have was a summertime banger from an unlikely source—or what we thought was unlikely. Now she’s a household name, finessing the rap game, and I know you see what I did there. She’s the rapper who somehow manages to force everybody to say, “I mean, I kind of fucks with Cardi ... ” even when you only listen to groups like PRhyme.
So what does it all mean? I don’t know. Shit. The album just came out. It’s dope; what more can I say? It already went gold because of a technicality that allowed “Bodak Yellow” spins to count toward its certification. Cardi strikes again and shit. Will this make Nicki Minaj hit up Marley Marl and come back with her own Mama Said Knock You Out album?
I’m half joking, but I actually would LOVE that. Shit, what if she even took that title track beat—like Cardi did with Project Pat’s “Chickenhead”—and remade the video? We’d all be #TeamNicki in no time. As if there’s a competition for our hearts. As if.
For now though, the album is less than 24 hours old and is still in the hospital getting vitals run before it can head out into the world and change it. I know that I’m enjoying the project, and I’m sure most of you will, too. It’s been a while since I’ve rolled down my windows for an entire album not released before 2001, with the only exception being T.I.’s 2006 album, King. For now I’m going to enjoy this Cardi album and muse about what it means, if anything, for the culture. Mostly, it’s just an album, and Cardi is gonna Cardi.
But one thing is true about Invasion of Privacy: Cardi continues to make money moves. I bet even she’ll dance to that.